Family Hikes on the Isle of Skye: Epic Adventures for All Kids

Scotland is a popular vacation destination, and there are many reasons why people love it. It is full of natural beauty, history, and fun things to do. One of the most popular places to visit in Scotland is the Isle of Skye, where one of the top activities is hiking. Although there are some challenging trails on this island, there are also many that are perfect for family hikes. Even very young children can enjoy some of these trails. These hikes are also budget-friendly since all of them are FREE!

Please note: Though these are all great places for family hikes, they are, for the most part, completely natural areas without protective barriers or guardrails. Please watch your children closely at all times, especially near cliffs and water. Also, there are no restroom facilities at these locations. Pack toilet paper in case nature calls during your walk.

The Fairy Glen

Fairy Glen Family Hikes

Fairy Glen Views

The strange cone-shaped hills of this glen look like fairies made them. You can decide for yourself if this is true as you roam among blackface sheep while exploring this magical landscape. Words don’t do this site justice, so I will let the pictures do the talking.

Fairy Glen 2 Family Hikes

Otherworldly Scenery of the Fairy Glen

Misty Fairy Glen Family Hikes

The Fairy Glen in the mist

Why It’s Great for Family Hikes

This is a place that even small children can enjoy. Though there is a trail, most people simply wander among the hills, making this an easy hike for kids. In fact, this is the easiest of all the Skye family hikes in our opinion. There is a rocky hill called Castle Ewan that is easy to climb and affords amazing views from its summit. However, do not let your children get near the edge of Castle Ewan as there is nothing to stop them from falling.

 

Practicalities

In the off-season, it’s possible to park in the layby that serves as the Glen’s parking lot. There is only room for three to four cars, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. If you don’t have a car, if it’s during the busy season (spring and summer), or don’t want to take a chance with parking, then book a spot on one of the tour buses that stop at the Glen.  Go Skye! and Skye Scenic Tours both stop here on their day tours. Go Skye!’s shuttle bus also stops here.

The Glen is located near the town of Uig, but is difficult to find as it is not signposted. Get a good map, and ask for help finding it if necessary.

Neist Point Lighthouse Walk

Neist Point Lighthouse Family Hikes

Lighthouse at Neist Point

This lighthouse is located on the Skye’s westernmost point. Though you can’t go inside of the lighthouse, you can get close to it and enjoy the incredible views from Niest Point. You might even see whales in the summer months.

The total walk to the lighthouse and back is around 1.5 miles. The paved path make this trail easy to follow, but the steep stairs and hills add an element of challenge.

Why It’s Great for Family Hikes

Who doesn’t like lighthouses? This hike gives kids interesting things to see. First, there’s the lighthouse itself. Second, as I mentioned, you might see some amazing sea life from the cliffside views. Finally, there is a field just off the trail near the lighthouse where hikers build little towers out of the stones scattered about. Of course, we made our own, too.

Neist Point Rock Formations Family Hikes

Field of Rock Formations Built by Hikers

I do not recommend this hike for children under six. There are A LOT of stairs on this path. My legs were shaking after the descent, and I was grateful for the rock tower diversion that gave me time to recover for the climb back up the stairs. I could not imagine carrying a child on this path. Had our daughter been any younger, she could not have done this hike.

Please note: Sudden, strong gusts of wind are common on Neist Point. To be safe, stay on the path or in the rocky field at all times. Do not venture near the edge of the cliffs, and always watch your children.

Practicalities

Neist Point is near the town of Glendale. The site is signposted, and there is parking available, though limited. Go Skye!’s shuttle also makes a stop here.

Fairy Pools

Fairy Pools Family Hikes

Fairy Pools

If you can only see one thing on this amazing island, make it the fairy pools. Of all our Skye hikes, this was the most beautiful. It consists of a series of small, crystal clear pools and waterfalls. You’ll get some fantastic views of the nearby Cuillin Hills while there, too. The walk to the main waterfall and back is only about 1.5 miles total, but you can walk much further if you feel like it.

Why It’s Great for Family Hikes

Though Bella completed the hike with little assistance from us, we saw several families hiking with children in carriers. They handled it just fine, though I recommend taking extra precautions when the ground is wet and slippery (which is often).

Kids will be fascinated by the pools of water and the many waterfalls splashing into them. If you’re brave, you can even splash around with them in the water, but be aware that it is always cold. We saw a few brave souls swimming when we visited.

This walk was a good confidence-booster for Bella, since she didn’t need much help. It also kept her entertained enough for us to extend our walk past the main waterfall, where we got even better views of mountains and fields.

Cuillin Hills Family Hikes

Views of the Cuillin Hills from Fairy Pools

Practicalities

Located near the town of Carbost, the pools are easy to find as they are signposted. There is a mid-sized parking lot onsite, but it often fills up by mid-afternoon. We suggest arriving early in the day. Alternately, the Go Skye shuttle makes a stop here, as do most day tours of Skye.

The Quiraing

Quiraing Rocks Family Hikes

Quiraing Rock Formations

This was the most challenging of the walks we took on Skye, but it was worth the effort. On this walk, you encounter cliffs, plateaus, valleys, and streams. Wait for a clear day, and bring your camera for some out-of-this-world vacation photos.

The total loop of this hike is around 4.25 miles, so prepare for a long day if you stop to enjoy the scenery.

Why It’s Great for Family Hikes

Quiraing Family Hikes

Out of This World Views from the Quiraing

This trail works best for older children. Completing it with a six-year-old was somewhat frightening. Towards the beginning, you must cross a stream by climbing over a slippery gorge, and you walk along narrow cliff edges for portions of the hike. Kids aged ten and up should be okay on this walk. We saw many children of this age handling it with ease.

There is so much to explore on this hike. Between the strange rock formations, the ocean views, and the daredevil sheep climbing about, kids may feel like they are on another planet. There is also just enough challenge to give it an element of excitement for outdoorsy youngsters. Even I felt like I was on a great adventure.

Practicalities

This one’s also easy to find. Look for the signs near Uig or Staffin. The parking lot fills quickly in the summer, but you can also park along the roadway. Go Skye!’s shuttle stops here, too, as do their day tours. Skye Scenic Tours also incudes the Quiraing in their full day tour of Skye.

The Old Man of Storr

Family Hikes Old Man of Storr

The Old Man of Storr

This may be Skye’s most iconic walk. On it, you hike up to the rock formation known as the Old Man of Storr, but you also get some great views of the surrounding area on a clear day.

The loop of the full hike is about 2.5 miles, though you don’t have to take the full walk to have a good experience.

Why It’s Great for Family Hikes

Views Storr Family Hikes

Enjoying the Views from the Old Man of Storr

Though there is definitely a bit of an incline to parts of this walk, most of it isn’t challenging. It’s a great hike for letting your kids burn off some energy and explore near the well-marked path. But I do not recommend making the full climb up to Old Man itself with kids. It is steep and slippery, and there is a danger of falling rocks. Instead, stop in the field beneath the rock formations. This is also a great place to eat a picnic lunch and enjoy the views before heading back down. Kids ages five and older should be able to handle this hike easily, but the steep sections may tire them. Be prepared to take breaks if necessary.

Practicalities

Since this is a very popular walk, it is easy to find. Park in the small parking lot or in the extended layby if the lot is full. The Old Man of Storr is very close to Portree, Skye’s largest town, where you can catch GoSkye!’s shuttle to Storr if you don’t want to drive.

Go Take a Hike!

We hope our suggestions help you have the best family adventure possible during your stay on the Isle of Skye. And if you’ve never thought of visiting, we hope we’ve changed your mind. These family hikes are just some of the many places to explore on this fascinating island. It’s a great vacation destination for kids of all ages (and adults, too!), and we hope you’ll share your experiences with us in our comments section.

 

 

 

4 Comments

  • ALiteraryFeast.com May 26, 2017 at 1:28 am

    I love this article so much! Hiking and the Isle of Skye… can it get any better? I want to go so badly. Some of my ancestors had a castle there. Maybe they’ll give m special treatment. 🙂

    Reply
    • kamieberry May 26, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      My pictures can’t even do it justice. It is that beautiful! There are lots of clan societies in Scotland. If you visit your ancestral castle, the docents love to talk to you. They’ll tell you all about your family/clan history. Many of the castles also have libraries where you can do some family research, and there is a very large heritage center in Inverness (where I used to live) where you can research to your heart’s content. I highly recommend it!

      Reply
      • ALiteraryFeast.com May 26, 2017 at 5:45 pm

        You lived in Inverness? I’m so jealous. How long and what did you do there?

        Reply
        • kamieberry May 28, 2017 at 12:14 am

          We lived there about a year. We bought a business on a Tier 2 Visa and thought we might stay there permanently. Sadly, life as an immigrant was a bit too difficult, so we came home. We had trouble with housing (it’s hard to rent when you’re an immigrant and there are no loans availble), and it was just too cold (only 2 days 70 degrees or over the whole year we were there). We still own the business, though.

          Reply

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