It’s the ruggedly handsome island I’ve always daydreamed about. With a couple of days leave still left to take before Christmas, I decided to fulfil my romantic little reveries and book a long weekend over the sea to Skye.

I’m far from unique in my idealised vision of the island, which explains its brimming population every summer, when domestic and international visitors alike descend upon Skye to see its surrounding beau idéal for themselves.

High season runs from April to October, so our late November/early December trip was very off-peak – something people didn’t hesitate to warn me about before we went. Since my plans consisted of walks and seeing some iconic landscapes- while staying in a self-catered cottage – I wasn’t too bothered about this.

However, people were not over exaggerating when they said the island closes down over winter. Anywhere really outside of Portree or Uig (the main two towns) is completely dead – something we discovered on our last night when we thought we’d venture out for dinner, only to discover the only place open for miles (including back over the bridge to the mainland!) was ‘Taste of India’ in Kyleakin. It was lovely but didn’t necessarily fulfil my vision of a cosy, island restaurant experience!

Unfortunately for us our wee visit coincided with Storm Diana, so a lot of our outdoor adventures were accompanied by wind, rain and hail. To be fair, it’s Scotland in November so it’s to be expected, though obviously a visit during the dryer months might suit people who aren’t necessarily used to such meteorological factors. 

Here are some of the things we got up to during our two full days on Skye…

Fairy Pools

Through my incessant Instagram scrolling (no, you have a problem..) I’d seen so many amazing photographs of the Fairy Pools that I insisted they were the first thing we saw on Skye. Luckily the weather stayed clear enough for long enough that we were able to actually walk around them properly and enjoy them.

Even while experiencing the authentic Scottish weather of four seasons in one day (or rather, hour), these naturally-formed pools and waterfalls are so magical. In between the hail when the sun shone, the water was so clear and turquoise and I felt I could sit and watch them for hours. 

TOP TIP: if you’re visiting here in winter, do not be extremely optimistic like us – wear actual proper hiking boots or wellies. I had normal boots on while Dave had trainers, so we (yes, two man effort) had to squeeze his size 9 feet into my size 6 wellies I’d left stashed in the boot of the car. Prepare yo’ feet, readers. Also, the car park opposite was a fiver to get in to so remember cash!

                                                               The Quiraing

The weather was at its worst when we went to see The Quiraing on the north of the island, so even though we couldn’t do the walk (which is a loop of around 7km), it still looked pretty epic with the low hanging mist and cloud. 

The site is widely compared to Lord of the Rings scenery, and when we visited it definitely had a touch of Mordor. I’d love to come back in Spring/Summer and do the full loop. We only did the first kilometre maybe, but even then I was blown away by it  (metaphorically as well as almost physically.) 

                                                                Portree

We made a little pit stop here on our way back from The Quiraing. We only wandered around the centre a bit but we ate by the fire at The Antlers Bar and Grill (haggis bon bons: the best) we wandered down the main street (mostly gift shops!) and got some cake at Cafe Arriba which is a cute little upstairs cafe overlooking the sea. 

                                                      Eilean Donan castle

OK, so it’s not technically on Skye but it’s close enough…

As far as castles go, Eilean Donan in my (I suspect very mainstream) opinion is the king of them. Standing above the water about a 15 minute drive from the Skye bridge, it was lit up as we passed in the darkness and the sight gave me instant goosebumps. 

The castle itself is closed in the low season but you can still walk around it. I will certainly be back one summer to go inside!  

                                                                       Mhor 84

‘Cos you can’t have a North-West road trip without stopping here! My absolute favourite little spot just off the A84. This time we visited “Store 84” (the shop right next to the restaurant) for the first time, and it was filled with some amazing things so definitely worth popping your head in. 

                                         And finally, where we stayed… 

As an Air Bnb stalwart, we of course stayed in a little Air Bnb cottage. It was in Lower Breakish, which is about 15 minute drive from the bridge. It was right on the sea front and the space was just so gorgeous and secluded.

If you want to be closer to the ‘action’ (which is somewhat limited during winter on Skye but you get my drift) this was quite a long drive from most places (45 minutes to Portree and over an hour to The Quiraing on the north of the island.)

From what I hear from others who have visited, Uig and Portree seem to be the most popular places to stay, as you’re slightly more central/nearer to the big attractions. Since there wasn’t much going on while we were there anyway (and it was also mad weather) we were more than happy to make dinners in our wee cottage, drink mulled wine and sit by the fire! 

Skye, I’ll see you again soon! 

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The stretch between December and March/April can seem fairly eternal. With the excitement of Christmas behind us, the next cause for celebration is the distant promise of leaves on trees, the long Easter weekend and the ability to gorge shamelessly on chocolate eggs.

SO, this is precisely why it’s the perfect time to book a getaway and give yourself a little sumpn sumpn to look forward to and ease those Q1 blues. It was in this spirit that KK and I embarked on our little road trip up north for a stay at the Riverbed Lodges in Glencoe.

Glencoe is one of those places you drive through and each time feel completely in awe of your surroundings. From Edinburgh it took us about 3 hours to get there, but the drive is often heralded as one of the most beautiful roads in the UK, making it about 50 times more enjoyable than your average 3 hour shlep.

You arrive up a little track road and see the lodges nestled among the trees, each with their own little set of steps and veranda. There are 8 of them in total, seven of them with a hot tub and one without. They’re 12 sqm so totally teeny, but so cute and cosy. The first thing we did was get into our comfies, take some photos and just chill out which was so nice and relaxing.

I’d be wholly behind getting a lodge with a hot tub because as far as I’m concerned there’s very little better than climbing into one on a cold day, armed with a bottle of chilled prosecco. It was pretty much an example of us living our best lives.

No it’s not a floating black bikini – if you look closely there is in fact a very translucent bod in it.

It got dark pretty quickly by the time we climbed in so we don’t have many photos of it from the first night, but rest assured that bad boy is just as great to relax in come morning with a cup of cawfee from the lodge’s nespresso machine (ugh can I just live there already).

We chose to spend our time there hanging around in either our pyjamas or in the hot tub, because quite frankly we were there to laze around, but if you wanted to actually branch out of your lodge there’s loads of stuff to do – including hill walking, skiing at the Glencoe range nearby, Segway tours, cycling, mountain biking and golfing. There are a few local restaurants you can check out too.

Included in the stay is breakfast, which includes granola, porridge, fresh milk, orange juice, croissants (with butter and pots of jam) and fruit. The bed frame folds into a little table you can eat it at or if it’s dry outside, you can have it out on the veranda – pre or post morning hot tub dip!

Whatever you choose to do there, you won’t be disappointed by the lodges and their surroundings. It was such a novelty staying right amongst the trees and mountains but in the safety of a warm little lodge haven. They’re a perfect weekend getaway for a group of pals or your other half.

If you’re thinking of booking a stay at the RiverBeds, make sure to use the code ‘kkland’ so you can enjoy prosecco, chocolates and bath robes included in your lodge.

 

Photos by KK Land

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Edinburgh’s rich history of distillation, trade, and pursuit of good times has for centuries provided fertile ground for spirit manufacturers and consumers. Leith’s edgy vibe is an increasing magnetism for modern entrepreneurs, and the area’s food and drink industry is continuing to thrive.

Taking into account my fondness for gin-drinking, good times, and of course Leith, I jumped at a recent invitation to the launch of Gleann Mór Spirits’ Leith Gin at Malmaison. The spirit (both inside my glass and outside of it) did not disappoint – and I decided to meet up with co-founder Karin Mair to find out more about the whats, hows and whys behind her new venture. View Post

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It could be that I’m just getting old, but these days I definitely get more excited about eating at a table than dancing on one. (Though if a weekend can incorporate both then it’s a hands down – or up, however you wanna boogie – winner.)

Like an anti-Trump ralley, the Six Nations rugby or the husky tones of Bob Marley, brunch is one of those things that just brings people together. As soon as anyone mentions the word, you just know your day’s on the incline.

So, as we slide serenely into the Easter weekend, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite little spots for this inbetween-y magical eating time. I’ve sampled many such spots around Edinburgh, but for the sake of retaining your interest and bigging up the ‘hood, here are my favourite Leith bruncheries. View Post

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Scandinavia is having a big moment. First it infiltrated our roads (the stoic Volvo), then our living rooms (two words: Poang chair). Now it’s on our televisions, in our bellies (their pastry game is just too strong damnit) and – with the rise of the somewhat middle-class trend of chasing “Hygge” – it’s even begun to inform our psyche.

Edinburgh, and Leith in particular, has become home to various Scandi bars and cafés over the past few years. So it seems only right to dedicate a blog post this Tuesday to my favourite Nordic eating and drinking spots in our almost-Nordic capital. View Post

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