Our latest Insider Guide is brought to you by Maddy Turnbull, owner of the fabulous retro styled holiday retreat, Mungo’s Den. Here she opens up her address book to share with us the best places to buy locally made products, enjoy fresh local food and drink, stay in stylish accommodation, and visit on the stunning Isle of Skye.
Where in Britain is it?
The Isle of Skye is situated off the dramatic West Highland coast of Scotland and is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides. The island has been inhabited since the Middle Stone Age, and although most inhabitants are English speaking, the native language of the islanders is still Scottish Gaelic.
Why should I go there?
For many, Skye is an inspirational island with stunning scenery provided by magnificent mountains, beaches, cliffs and forest walks. Climbers, ramblers, artists and photographers are drawn by the panoramic views and the challenge to either capture images, or conquer the mighty peaks and ridges.
Native wildlife includes wild deer and stags, golden eagles, minke whales and dolphins, and you can watch local fishermen landing their catches on the shore, or marvel at local crofters herding their highland cattle. There’s a strong folk music tradition on the island and you’re never far from a live music event or impromptu gathering of locals on their pipes and fiddles at the nearest pub. While the idyllic main town of Portree, with its pretty painted houses on the harbour, offers great amenities including gift shops, craft fairs and fresh local produce.
If you’re travelling during the summer, the most romantic way to arrive is on the Skye Ferry from Glenelg, through the swirling tide-race of Kylerhea, which is an experience in itself and the spectacular scenery makes the journey well worth the effort. Skye is a beautiful jewel in Scotland’s crown and you will not leave disappointed!
Will I find interesting local products to buy?
The Isle of Skye has a fantastic heritage for local arts and crafts with a vibrant creative community. With its origins in the traditional skills of weaving and spinning, it has grown to inspire a wealth of creative skills and now offers a wide variety of locally made products.
The Portree Craft Gallery offers local crafts and seasonal markets throughout the year and brings together handmade goods by the likes of Knott Kraft, Skye Knyts & Lynne Pryde; as well as mouth-watering bakery, jams and local produce from The Isle of Skye Baking Company and The Skye Food Company. Another favourite is Skye Fudge and Isle of Skye Chocolates which are handmade with love by the fabulous Skye confectioner, and our friend, Carole whose creations taste heavenly!
For gifts with a unique highland twist, try Skye Skyns who offer luxurious sheepskin products handmade on Skye, while for contemporary tartan chic you can’t beat The Tartan Company shop in Portree. For clothing browse the fabulous collections at Ragamuffin, Skye Batiks and Over the Rainbow.
If you’re looking for unusual yarns or fine wools, visit Shilisdair Dyehouse in Waternish orThe Handspinner Having Fun at Broadford Old Pier. For contemporary Scottish jewellery pay a visit to Alley Cat Gifts in Portree or Skye Silver in Dunvegan. At the local potteries at Edinbane, Uig and Halistra you’ll find potters at their wheels and a great selection of handmade ceramics. There are also many galleries around the island where you can view the latest exhibitions, or choose a special reminder of your time spent here.
A final mention has to go to my favourite shop, Breakish Byres, a delightful emporium of curios, antiques and bric-a-brac near Broadford. You never know what wonderful, old-time and retro pieces will be available for sale from day to day. They helped us source many great items whilst furnishing Mungo’s Den - definitely worth a browse if you’re passing!
Where can I eat locally sourced food?
Fresh local produce is something we have in abundance on Skye, and our natural harvests from sea or shore are some of the finest in the world. You can purchase fresh local seafood delicacies from Isle of Skye Oysters at Carbost, Oakes Marine Hand Dived Scallops at Sconser, and Isle of Skye Smokehouse in Broadford.
Our excellent meat and seafood larder is complemented by some of the best dining experiences on the island. A firm favourite is The Three Chimneys at Colbost, offering award-winning cuisine in a dramatic landscape. Another excellent choice for formal dining is the Michelin starred Kinloch Lodge in Sleat, owned by cookery writer Lady Claire MacDonald. If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, try Loch Bay Seafood Restaurant in Stein or Harbour View in Portree – both highly acclaimed for their understated, fresh local seafood
If you’re looking for a bistro style cafe, try Cafe Arriba in Portree which serves an excellent selection of local, organic and vegetarian dishes. The atmosphere is relaxed, with great views over the harbour and they serve an aromatic selection of great, freshly ground coffee – perfect as a wee pick-me-up for the weary tourist!
Can I stay somewhere with a bit of character?
At Mungo’s Den you’ll find boutique self-catering accommodation of the highest standard. Once an old telephone exchange and post office; it has been lovingly restored by us to offer you a luxurious, stylish and eco-friendly experience. It has quirky charm & character, full of original vintage objects that speak of timeless quality. Perfect as a highland hideaway, it’s nestled within the sleepy, crofting hamlet of Portnalong on the Minginish Peninsula of North West Skye.
You will be warmly welcomed with an organic hamper full of fresh local produce, fairtrade Red wine, bottles of local brew and other organic goodies. We can also deliver other items ready for your arrival – we are part of Skye’s Foodlink community, offering a good network of local organic producers who can provide anything from locally reared meats and shellfish to pastries and home baking!
The bespoke kitchen is handcrafted from original Victorian doors and the heating beneath the reclaimed slate floor keeps the Den cosy & warm, while the woodburning stove adds a romantic feel. The beds have indulgent handmade mattresses for a perfect night’s sleep, crisp organic cotton sheets and quality bed linen. The bathroom offers pure decadence with a roll-top bath, organic towels, soft fluffy bathrobes and handmade toiletries from our friends at The Highland Soap Company.
We want you to relax and enjoy your holiday on Skye, so for your convenience we provide a full Sky TV package, iPod dock and free Wi-fi for when you tire of the views! Come & be part of Mungo’s magic – join us at the Den!
What should I see, do or visit while I’m there?
The amazing Trotternish Ridge and Quiraing at Staffin is a must see, as are the Cuillin Mountains and the Old Man of Storr. A visit to Talisker Distillery, the only whiskey distillery on Skye is a very popular attraction, and The Skye Museum of Island Life at Kilmuir gives a fascinating insight into the island’s history, while Dunvegan Castle opens the door to the island’s ancestral past. For younger visitors Glendale Toy Museum is a worthy visit, along with Skye Reptile World at Broadford. The Fairy Glen near Uig, Coral Beaches past Dunvegan and Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle are all well worth a visit, as the beautiful, otherworldly and natural wonders of Skye.
Skye is a popular destination all year round, although most of the attractions are open from March to October.
The Clan Donald Bluebell Festival takes place in May, followed by the Spring Garden & Craft Fair at Armadale Castle. In summer, the landscape is a carpet of glorious colour, with wild Scottish heather filling the senses. The famous Glamaig Hill Race takes place in July, whilst the Skye Highland Games (pictured) are a popular attraction in August. The Blas Festival and Skye Jazz Festival in September and October round off the summer music season in style.
The Christmas markets & the snow-covered peaks make Skye a very popular choice as a cosy Highland winter retreat. We hope you will spend it with us!
To book accommodation at this retro style hideaway, visit the Mungo’s Den website.
Interested in visiting Skye? Take a look at the official Skye website.
For more information about food from Skye, visit the Taste Local website.
To find out about crafts from Skye, visit the Skye Arts and Crafts website.
Map of The Isle of Skye
Would you like to write a Great Escapes feature? If your local area is a hive of talent and creativity, and you’d like to share your address book secrets with our readers, we’d love to hear from you. Just send an email to email@example.com.