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Adventures in Scotland

When to go to Skye?

Guided walking on the isle of Skye

On March 22, 2017 By Rebecca Field

When is it a good time to visit Skye?

We’re often asked when it is a good time to come to Scotland. For us every season has it’s advantages and perhaps disadvantages, depending on your point of view. There are definitely certain times of year which are better for hiking than others. There are also certain times of year when it is best to be in particular areas. If you’re a weather geek, you can find out for yourself which are statistically the best weeks to plan your trip by studying the “weather singularities”.

Skye Munros

Sunset over Am Basteir from Sligachan on the Isle of Skye during the Skye Munros itinerary

Weather singularities are statistically proven times of year when the same weather tends to re-occur e.g. always dry that week. In fact, these have been noted so frequently in some cases that they even have traditional names like: “St. Luke’s Summer” or “Old Wives Summer”. Andy has studied the weather very closely and plans our west coast trips around the times of year when we are statistically likely to have the best conditions. This is why one of the most frequent comments we have as guests depart is: “Haven’t we been lucky with the weather?” Mind you, that might also be due to the fact that they come expecting to be rained on every day. Any day which is dry is considered to be a bonus!

You can choose by season which would be the best time of year to plan your trip. Whether it will rain or not, is not necessarily the only factor which would influence your decision. You may also want to consider what wildlife will be around or how long the day will be.

Guided walking on the Isle of Skye

Spectacular views for the Cuillins on the Isle of Skye

Is Spring a good time to visit Skye?

The division for the Spring months may be surprising, but here in the Highlands of Scotland, Spring doesn’t really arrive until April. Skye is a wee bit more of a warmer climate than by our home base in the Cairngorms. Being closer to the sea, Spring can arrive earlier and the wildflowers will often start to put on an appearance in March. Our Spring months are more often than not April, May and June. Spring is an amazing time to visit Skye, in particular, as more often than not the dreaded midge has not awoken from her winter slumbers; the days are long and the weather is frequently dry and more often than not, sunny.

Guided walking on the Isle of Skye

It’s hard hiking the Munros on Skye but all the views make is well-worth it in blue sky weather.

The seabirds, like the gannets and guillemots’ start to return to the cliffs surrounding Skye in Spring. Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles nest on Skye. The Sea Eagles tend to lay their eggs early in the Spring with a 6 week incubation period. The chicks could well be hatching around the time we will be on Skye in May. Once the chicks hatch the Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles are very active hunting for food to feed them. Spring is a very good time to spot the eagles.

Baby lambs will be playing in the fields. Skye is certainly a good place to spot lambs. Plenty of sheep in the lower fields of Skye as well as a thriving wood industry producing both yarn and cloth.

Another advantage of Spring, particularly May, is that the daylight hours are so long. Though we’re not quite at the longest day (mid-June), you can still be out at 10pm without the need for a headtorch.

Is Summer a good time to visit Skye?

Seeing the sun still up at 10pm and 3am or earlier is something which astounds most tourists. Be sure to make sure your accommodation has good curtains though if you’d rather have a good night’s sleep. If the sun is out, it can be glaring at 4am and most of us don’t appreciate that when we’d rather be sleeping.

July is the month to see the best of the orchids.

In August, there are plenty of wading birds to be found on the shores of the lochs and the heather is out in full bloom turning the sides of the hills purple. It’s also a really good time to spot whales, dolphins and porpoises.

The biggest disadvantage of visiting Skye in the height of summer is the sheer volume of tourists with the same idea. It can be extremely difficult to find accommodation and the road’s there just aren’t built for the volume of traffic.

Hiking on the isle of Skye

The Trotternish ridge on the isle of Skye

Is Autumn a good time to visit Skye?

October is far and away the best time to spot the northern lights from Skye and November is the time to see the fireworks display at Dunvegan Castle. The display includes setting fire to a Viking longship. The difficulty for hikers though is that the sun sets before 5pm meaning that it is difficult, but not impossible, to complete a full mountain day in the light. The plus side though is that both sun rise and sun set can be glorious. It’s much easier to spot a good sunrise when it takes place around 7am rather than in the early hours of the morning.

Is Winter a good time to visit Skye?

December is an extremely good time to spot the sea eagles who are in the midst of their mating rituals now. The eagles will be soaring in the sky displaying and getting ready to pair up. Winter can also be a very good time to spot red deer who tend to come lower down the hills and can be spotted at the roadside in search of food. It’s also the best time to look for otters.

Visiting Skye with Scot Mountain Holidays

We’ve picked a prime week in May to visit Skye and pick off the Cuillin Munros. The guided trip will be fully inclusive of accommodation and meals as well as transport to the walks and pick up from Inverness airport, Fort William and Aviemore station depending on your travel arrangements.

We also have our Superlative Skye trip available to groups of 4 or more people. It’s not currently scheduled and our calendar for 2017 is rapidly filling up so do get in touch soon if you’re hoping for us to run this itinerary. We could even make a plan for 2018!

when to visit Skye

Perfect weather in May 2017 when our group picked off all the Munro summits.


Related web links:

Making the most of your time on Skye 

When to visit the Glendale area of Skye

The weather statistics for Glendale

WOW Scotland: the best time of year to visit the Highlands of Scotland 

Scotland Weather and Climate

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