Family Friendly Hostels
Portree Independent Hostel - which was once the village post office - is excellent for families with children of all ages, with cots available for babies and small children. The large companionable kitchen/dining room is the original post office sorting office, and still encourages the exchange of news only now its by people chatting and eating together instead of by letter. The "get-to-know-you" kitchen has resulted in at least three marriages that the hostel is taking credit for!
Geology of Scotland
The dramatic landscape of the Isle of Skye is formed from 1000 million years of rock formations. The Sleat Peninsula contains some of the oldest rocks in Europe, with the Trotternish Ridge hosting the most spectacular landslides in Britain. Portree Independent Hostel is perfect for large group stays wishing to explore the geology of Skye. Within a few miles are famous Skye landmarks including the Old Man of Storr, a 165 foot column of sheer rock, the Needle, a 120 foot pinnacle and the basalt columns of the Kilt Rock at Staffin Bay. Inland from Staffin Bay is The Quiraing, the only one of the Trotternish ridges which is still moving, with its series of spectacular pinnacles and flat table. Further information on the geology of Skye can be found on http://www.skye.co.uk/outdoors-geology.php
Local Food Produce
If you want see fishing boats land their catch, visit Portree harbour where the freshly caught seafood can be purchased. The fish farm, Dawn Fresh Farming at Broadford sells fresh salmon. Skye Harvest at Staffin is good for fruit and vegetables and Skye Fruit and Fungi is good for fruit and mushrooms.
Boat trips leave from Portree Harbour to watch the dolphins and see the seabird colonies.
The Isle of Skye is a walkers' paradise. Have a look at the website Walkhighlands. Paul and Helen Webster, who own this site, lived on Skye for some years. All the walks from 1.5kms to a week's walking of a 127 kms are well researched by them.
Where to hear the Gaelic language
In Skye, the Gaelic language is alive and well. The Tongadale and Pier Hotels in Portree are owned by native speakers and their Gaelic speaking friends gather in their pubs for a yarn. Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic medium college down at Sleat, holds summer courses and language is taught in the Schools
Where to hear the Bagpipes
The invitational Silver Chanter Piobaereach [classical pipe music] Competition is held at Dunvegan Castle immediately after the Portree Highland Games in early August each year. The 8 best piobaereach players from around the world are invited to take part. Overseas winners have manly come from New Zealand and Canada. The 2010 winner was from Scotland.
The Isle of Skye Pipe Band plays weekly during the summer in the Square at Portree. Portree Independant Hostel sponsors the pipe band, which wears the hostel owner's own tartan. The pipe major flies the hostel owner's Coat of Arms from the big drone of his bagpipes.
If any hostel visitor wishes to have the unique experience of taking the pipe band salute after it's display in the square, please ask the Portree Independent Hostel's reception to contact the pipe major with regard to available dates.
The MacCrimmons, hereditary pipers to the Macleod chiefs were situated at Borreraig, where they established a piping college which is now in Edinburgh. A cairn at Borreraig honours 10 generations of piping MacCrimmons.
Field work at High Pasture Cave at Strath has recorded settlements from Mesolithic to Hunter- Gatherers to Bronze and Iron Ages to Viking and Medieval periods.
The Hunter-Gather site at An Corran at Staffin is one of the oldest archaeology sites in Scotland. The dinosaur footprints found at the same site by Cathie Booth of Glen View Hotel are the biggest footprints found in Scotland, being over 50 cms in length.
Skye is absolutely littered with cairns, duns [forts], standing stones and souterrians [earth houses].
Carn Liath is a 4 m tall chambered cairn near kensalyre some 5 miles outside Portree. The tomb has been excavated and a stone coffin was found.
Claigan Souterrain is north past Dunvegan Castle to Claigan, where there's a small carpark.
Dun Grianan sits at the end of a low promontory in Loch Mealt, Trotternish which was a good defensive position for a fort.
Dun Skudburgh is a stone age fort in a spectacular defensive position on a steep-sided hill above Loch Snizort.
Dun Beag and Dun Mor at Struan: Dun Beag is the best preserved broch on Skye. Access is from the main Dunvegan- Sligachan Rooad, Dun Mor is 1/2km up the road.
Kilvaxter Souterrain: In May 2000 after heavy rain, a hole suddenly opened in a field at Kilvaxter, Kilmuir. In 2006 it was opened to the public. Some time ago, while ploughing, one of our hostel members family fell into a large hole which suddenly opened up, plough, horse and all, it was a broch.
Knock Ullinish Souterrain: This is an easy accessible earth house at the foot of Knock Ullinish.
Sornaichean Coir Flinn: This pair of standing stones is on the roadside near Kensalyre. It is said they were erected here by Fingal and his fellow hunters to suspend a pot in which whole red deer were cooked.
Tungadale Souterrrain: The best route is off the Dunvegan-Sligachan road via Tungadale forest track. Soutrrains mainly consist of a long tunnel and a chamber. They are dark and not for the faint hearted. A torch is needed, also waterproof clothing, as they are often muddy.
The High Pasture Cave, the significant archaeological find by London university students in 1972, is on the road from Broadford to Elgol.
Archaeologists on the Island of Skye are investigating a 12th century Viking ship building site, which is unique to Scotland. A world first.
Remains including timbers dating from the 1100s, a stone built quay and a man made entrance canal have been found at Loch n h-Airde on the Rubh Dunain peninsula on Skye's west coast.
The Scottish Clans
The Isle of Skye Clans are Macdonald, Macleod, Nicolson, MasQueen and Mackinnon. Recent DNA shows that the Macdonalds and Nicolsons are of Viking descent, and, that the Macleods are Gaels, contrary to previous beliefs.
Dunvegan Castle, the seat of the chief of the Macleods is open to the public during summer. When the chief's banner flies from the mast at Dunvegan Castle, he is in residence.
The Clan Donald Centre at Sleat is open to visitors. The ruins of Armadale Castle with it's beautiful gardens at the centre is the Macdonald High Chief's seat.
Portree is Clan Macdonald territory. The Portree Independent Hostel offers special rates for clan groups.
If you have ancestors from Skye or even want to know if you have a Scottish name, the Clan Donald Centre is the place to visit on Sleat. The centre holds census reports, parish records, monumental inscriptions, maps and a database of Skye families. The Macdonald Estate papers can be found nowhere else and the staff at the Centre's library are very helpful.
Mountain biking on Skye is considered by some as having the best single track trail in the UK. The Trotternish peninsula circuit is a loop through the dramatic scenery of the Quirang with its rocky pinnacles on one side, and, views across Rona and Raasay, to the mainland on the other side. The Sligachan loop takes in the dramatic scenery of the Cuillins, and is considered a true endurance test.
The village of Elgol, Neist Point Lighthouse, Duntulm and the Cuillins are favourite places for viewing sunsets.
The Highland Clearances
On the way to Elgol, there are many ruins of croft houses, burnt to the ground at the time of the clearances. The people were herded on to ships at Portree, forced migrants bound for the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As the ships disappeared from sight, those left behind knew it was the last time they would see their loved ones. Maclean, a town in NSW, is twinned with Portree, many of the descendants of those migrants live at Maclean.
Traditional Live music
The Isles Hotel, opposite the Portree Independent Hostel has live music each night in the bar.