While most tourists flock to Scotland’s Isle of Skye, those in the know also nip east, says writer Janice Hopper.

For a taste of island life off the beaten path, tiny Raasay – just 14 miles long by five miles wide – combines the great outdoors with warm hospitality.

Want rugged hikes, dramatic ruins, sweeping vistas and secluded beaches?

You’re in the right place.

And that’s before we get to the whisky and chocolate.

Take A Hike

Raasay is a place to go off grid and soak up the natural beauty.

Make the two-to three-hour hike to the summit of Dun Caan, past the serene Loch na Mna and Loch na Meilich, before taking in the dramatic views of the Five Sisters of Kintail hills.

If the weather’s playing ball, grab takeaway nibbles from The Larch Box cafe and dine alfresco at the island’s most beautiful beach, Inver Bay (the Queen has picnicked here, so if it’s good enough for royalty…).

Next, explore the atmospheric ruins of Hallaig or head north to the tidal island of Fladda, passing the ruins of Brochel Castle and the curiosity of Calum’s Road – built single-handedly by local Calum MacLeod to link his community to the rest of the island (Walkhighlands.co.uk).

The best way to get around Raasay is either by hiking or hiring a bike from Raasay House, £15 for half a day.

This hotel also offers activities such as RIB trips, £40 per person, coasteering, £50, and archery £20 per person.

Plus its sea-view restaurant is the place to eat and drink. Start with Sconser mussels, £7.95, followed by corn-fed chicken with Highland haggis, traditional clapshot (mashed swede and potatoes) and Raasay whisky sauce, £18.95.

Double rooms cost from £120 B&B (Raasay-house.co.uk).

The Water Of Life

Whisky has been made here for centuries, but the Isle of Raasay Distillery is the first legal one on the island.

Take a whisky and chocolate tour, £15 per person, including treats from Glenshiel Chocolate Company.

You can even kip over – doubles cost from £112 B&B (Raasaydistillery.com).

For souvenirs, The Silver Grasshopper sells jewellery, Raasay Gallery has interesting works of art, or check out The Studio for local photography.

As you bid farewell to Raasay and drive back through Skye, visit Dunvegan Castle with its ornate gardens, £14 (Dunvegancastle.com).

Plus, explore Skye’s natural wonders – the Fairy Pools, the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr and the Cuillins.

Or take a last look at the surrounding coastlines on the Seaflower catamaran.


You’ll set sail from Portree and dine on exquisite seafood while sipping wine and looking out for seals, dolphins, sea eagles and otters.

Cruises cost from £120 per person (Seaflowerskye.com).

Just let the scenery, history and folklore of the islands cast their spell.

FYI

Drive to the Isle of Skye, then catch the 25-minute ferry from Sconser over to Raasay.

Return tickets cost £4 per foot passenger or £13.50 per car (Calmac.co.uk). 

Plan your trip at Raasay.com.

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