Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned explorer, a local guide can help you discover the hidden gems and untold stories that make Skye such a fascinating and unforgettable destination. So grab your hiking boots and camera, and let’s dive into the world of Skye’s expert guides.
Rosie Somerville has been exploring her homeland of Skye since long before she established herself as a tour guide in 1997. Her knowledge of the island and all of it’s quirks – it’s history, geology, wildlife and burgeoning arts scene, has made her an indispensable resource for those seeking to delve a little deeper into Skye’s untold stories.
At the beginning of her journey, Rosie offered low-level hiking tours of the island with transportation in one of her trusty off-road Land Rovers. Since then, the company has expanded and Rosie now spends much of her time managing the incoming cruise ships which spend time in Portree, Dunvegan and Kyle of Lochalsh. Nevertheless, Rosie’s walking tours remain the heart and soul of her operation, where her captivating storytelling shines through.
For those of you with a particular interest in Highland history, Skyetrak offer hikes into the villages of Borreraig and Susinish, both of which were forcibly evacuated during the highland clearances. The people of these villages were turfed out of their homes by Lord MacDonald in 1853 – who burned down their family homes to create space for livestock to graze – a more profitable use for his land and resources. It would be almost impossible to stumble across these landmarks by accident, and one would be completely clueless as to the rich history that is attached to the area. Rosie’s deep knowledge of Skye’s history brings the stories of these abandoned communities to life, adding a poignant layer of meaning to an already unforgettable experience. The grief and sense of loss that pervades these sites may well tug at your heartstrings, but it’s this connection to the land and its people that makes Rosie’s tours so unique. This is not just a geeky historical tour but a deeply personal and meaningful journey through one of Scotland’s most captivating regions. If you’re looking to dig deeper into Skye’s hidden gems, Rosie Somerville and Skyetrak are the perfect guides for the job.
Unlike many other tour companies, Skyefari takes a sustainable approach to tourism, offering small group tours in 4x4s and vans that are designed to have minimal impact on the environment. David Lambie – owner and tour guide – is a professional ecologist with an extensive background in conservation, making him a bit of an expert in all of the creatures that roam the island. His wildlife tours are designed to showcase the most exciting of Skye’s wildlife, most notably the ‘Skye Five’: the golden eagle, red deer, otter, seal and white-tailed eagle. These trips are a unique chance to see some of these rare animals up close in the wild: time slips away as you watch otter cubs play on the peaceful shoreline at Kylerhea, or gaze in wonder at the sheer mass of white-tailed eagle, dominating the sky as it swoops and tumbles.
On your mission to find these beasts you will undoubtably also stumble across all manners of magnificent creatures, from darting oystercatchers to shy porpoise and curious pine Martens. Every minute counts on this tour, which visits a number of wildlife hotspots – many of which are on private land that cannot be accessed without special permission. This is a must for budding wildlife photographers, with incredible photo opportunities around every corner.
Choosing to walk with a guide from Skye Adventure is a top pick when tackling any of the Cuillin munros. These alpine-style mountains, unlike the rolling hills that characterise most of Scotland’s munros, are notoriously difficult to navigate and are safest done in the hands of a local mountain guide, who will make sure you always put your best foot forward and avoid getting into any dangerous situations. The vast, incredibly deep corries in the Cuillin can seem to appear from nowhere, and steady paths can often dwindle into knife-edge ridges. The guides from Skye Adventure are born and bred highlanders who have been exploring the Cuillins since they were wee kids: as they bound up the mountain paths (with you in tow), expect chit-chat around the history of the hills and the island, spoken with an easy familiarity and an infectious passion.
The ‘In Pinn’, as it is fondly referred to by the climbing community, is a needle shaped rock formation sitting atop Sgùrr Dearg (Gaelic for ‘Red Peak’), and is widely revered as the most challenging of the munros. The path begins at the Glenbrittle Youth Hostel as a steady incline past stunning waterfalls and corries. Fill up a bottle at the fast flowing waterfalls: the water is clean, having travelled only a few metres from the source. There is a little scrambling required as you approach the shadow of the In Pinn itself, which soon begins to dominate the skyline. Many who view the peak at this point manage to talk themselves out of the climb, as the drops on either side give way to a hellish amount of exposure. There is a silver lining: the course gabbro that makes up the Cuillin range is fairly easy to climb due to its excellent grip and the In Pinn is no exception, the scramble up the side contains plenty of wee footholds and ledges to use to propel yourself forward.
After taking a moment at the top to catch your breath and take in the intoxicating views across the range and out to the Inner Hebrides, your guide will get you roped up for an easy abseil down the side of the rock. Conquering this munro is a true test of nerve, but nothing else on Skye quite compares.