For some people the idea might be strange to travel to the Highlands during winter time. After all, it is a place for outdoor adventures and what do we associate with the island winter? Cold, rain, mist, dark and crazy wind. Well let me paint you a picture:
Isle of Skye, winter time. No tourists to be found. The Old man of Storr is just for you, and you alone. The frosty wind might kiss your cheeks but the breeze brings the freshest air. The landscape at first might seem a little bit lifeless but looking at the snow hat on the top of the Quirang, in your heart you really can feel that you are alive.
And at the end of all this you finally get inside, wrap your cold hands around some heartwarming gin with a fluffy blanket and fill up your tummy with a sumptuous dinner. Somehow after a cold walk when you are inside again everything tastes and feels a thousand times better…
A very big advantage of the winter period to visit Skye is that there are not as many tourists as usual. While in the main season the most popular attractions are full with hiking groups and couples, during winter you won't have problems to find a parking space. The roads are quiet, which makes driving on the single track roads so much easier.
In my opinion one of the most magical charms Skye has is the humanless nature. Escaping from a busy, well populated city there is no better way to reconnect to nature than to stand for a few minutes on the end of a cliff and listen to the waves. I never realized how much noise we are living in before I set foot on the Island. To find this peace can be more challenging during the busy touristic season, but at wintertime we can claim the best views to ourselves.
The lack of people and all the noise they bring can make the wildlife more visible as well. With less people we will get more chance to spot sea birds, seals, otters or dolphins. But, because of the cold (and I think this is my best argument here) the midges are gone!
It is important to remember, though, that the fame of the cruel weather is not an accident. The winter time can be very wet and cold. Considering that, every traveler has to keep in mind to have proper clothing and equipment to avoid the wet foot mood. (It is a thing, trust me!) But as they say there is no cold weather, just not appropriate clothing.
However, the extreme weather has its benefits as well. The Isle of Skye is also called Eilean a' Cheo, the Island of Mist, a very appropriate name.
The mysterious and romantic Highlands are even more atmospheric when the mist is taking over. It is hard to find a more exciting theme for a picture than a robust Scottish castle or a cliff hugged by the clouds covering its secrets and stories. Not to mention the fact that it is not a real Highland experience without some crazy weather phenomenon; your face was never hit by some hail?
Like you have never even been on Skye…
If we are already talking about memories and photos, then I have to mention all the great sunrise and sunset pictures. During the colder months, the daylight becomes shorter and shorter. And even if we have less time to hike, it gives back when it comes to a romantic session of sunset. There is no need to stay up for long and wait for the color parade; on the darkest days the sun can set before 4pm. Good news for those who like to sleep in, the sunrise won't happen before 8 o'clock either, so there is no need to get up early to take a peek of nature’s favorite painting.
One more advantage of the long nights are the stars. We tend to forget that one of the most amazing views is always there above our heads, wherever we are. But with our modern lifestyle we take it away from ourselves, now we have to find secrets spots to get away from the light pollution just to take a look. Well, on the Isle of Skye at Redwood House it is enough to leave your room and look up to see this:
Which reminds me! Since we are so far north, if you are lucky enough you might set an eye on one of the coolest sky sight of all, the aurora borealis. During the winter months the chances of experiencing this natural beauty are higher; and with several mobile applications available it is really easy to receive alerts.
Winter is the period of calm meditation. The time when we can look into the past and prepare ourselves to the future. Our world is changing, we see this today even more. In the past moths we have all been through some very hard and traumatic experiences, as society and as individuals. The winter of 2020 can be a good time to take a deep breath and decide where our future is heading. It might be cold and it might be dark, but I could never imagine a better place to do so than the Isle of Skye.