OTTERS, SEALS & SCOTLAND’S MOST FAMOUS FORTRESS
Before you say goodbye to SKYE, there’s time for a visit this morning to the KYLERHEA OTTER HAVEN, an apt name for this unspoilt stretch of beautiful coastline on the island’s eastern tip. From Sligachan, follow the A87 towards Kyle of Lochalsh for 20 miles before turning right onto a winding, 7-mile-long single-track road, which offers sublime views over the strait separating Skye from the mainland as it descends into Kylerhea itself. The shoreline viewing hide, an easy 1km walk along a flat path from the Forestry Commission car park, is one of the best places in Britain to see wild otters. But even if they’re not playing ball, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see seals basking on the rocks or bobbing about in the water, and you may also spot dolphins and porpoises racing through the Narrows. There’s another hide near the car park [open from the end of March until the end of August, Monday to Friday from 10am to 5.30pm], with wonderful views over Kyle Rhea; the informative RSPB guides here are great with children and will provide them with activity packs and binoculars to spot the resident raptors – Kylerhea is also home to Britain’s largest bird of prey, the white-tailed sea eagle.
From Kylerhea, head back to the A87 and turn right, following the road across the Skye Bridge and into Kyle of Lochalsh, back on the mainland, from where it’s 8.5 miles along the A87 to EILEAN DONAN CASTLE [open daily until 6pm | £7.50, under-16s £5, under-5s free; family tickets (up to 3 children) £20]. It's easy to see why this is allegedly the most photographed castle in Scotland – standing on its own island and reached by a low-slung bridge, it enjoys a gorgeous setting at the head of 3 sea lochs and beneath the Kintail Mountains. The castle that you see today was lovingly restored in 1932 after the English blew the previous one up over 200 years previous, but it’s still an impressive sight, and there are enough interactive displays and assorted weaponry (Claymore swords, duelling pistols, Highland daggers and cannon balls) to keep the kids entertained for an hour or two.
From one of Scotland’s most iconic images to another: after Eilean Donan, your final stop of the day is DRUMNADROCHIT, near the photogenic Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness. It’s a 55-mile (about an hour and a quarter away), along the A87, the A887 and then the A82, which traces the loch’s western shore for 11 miles on its way up to Drumnadrochit, where there are campervan pitches at Borlum Farm and several lay-bys for freedom camping north of town.
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