A Small-Town Girl’s Short Guide to Portnalong

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Portnalong isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think of visiting the Isle of Skye. There are no tourist attractions in Portnalong itself; the nearest is probably the Talisker Distillery in Carbost, about an hour’s walk away. There are only a few accommodations to choose from and the bus only comes by twice or thrice a day, except on Sundays, when it does not come by at all. But perhaps it’s for that very reason that Portnalong is, as the cliché goes, the perfect place to get away from it all.

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How to get to Portnalong

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From London or Edinburgh, take the train to Inverness. (If you’re coming from London, I highly recommend the Caledonian Sleeper.)

From Inverness, take the train to Kyle of Localsh.

From Kyle of Localsh, take the Scottish Citylink bus (915 or 916, the Glasgow to Uig route) and get off at Sligachan. Cross the road and wait for the white Murdo A MacDonald 608 bus (the Portree – Fiskavaig route) which will take you to Portnalong.

The Kyle of Localsh bus stop

The Kyle of Localsh bus stop

The Sligachan bus stop

The Sligachan bus stop

That’s the route we took when we visited Portnalong last September. There are other ways to get there, of course, depending on where you’re coming from. If you’re going by Fort William, you can take the train to Mallaig, the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Armadale, and then a bus to Portnalong. Whatever your situation, the best way to figure out routes and times is to use the Traveline Scotland planner.
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What to do in Portnalong

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Go on a trek uphill (just follow this route)…

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What the ground looks like on these hills

What the ground looks like on these hills

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…or downhill to the harbor (by following this route)…

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…and back up…

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…or just find a good nook for a book, read, let your mind wander, do nothing — it’s just as rewarding.

Where to stay in Portnalong

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We stayed at the Skyewalker Hostel, which has been recognized by Hostelworld for several years now as the best in Scotland.

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Hotels in Skye

Hotels in Inverness

Hotels in Scotland

 



Booking.com


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Portnalong | © Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

 

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Inverness to Kyle of Localsh

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Inverness to Kyle of Localsh

They say it’s the journey, not the destination. On the train ride from Inverness to Kyle of Localsh, that’s certainly true.

The train journeys between Fort William and Mallaig and between Inverness and Kyle of Localsh are generally acknowledged to be among the best in the world in terms of scenery. More people seem to favor the former but — and perhaps it was the late afternoon timing of our ride from Mallaig to Fort William, or perhaps it was because we took it after we’d been to Skye, to whose landscapes most other things would pale in comparison — I actually loved the Inverness-Kyle of Localsh route more.

Mountains. Trees. Sheep. Streams. Near-perfect mirror images of the sky from lochs so brilliantly blue. Unlike the train ride that conveyed us to Inverness, which treated us to views the Scottish highlands in its moody finest, the ride that carried us away was done under blazing sunshine. Here’s a video featuring some of the sigh-inducing scenery from that journey…

…and for those who, like me, are sometimes too lazy to click on videos, here are a few of the highlights in roughly chronological (that is, Inverness to Kyle of Localsh) order.

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Anytime fares from Inverness to Kyle of Localsh cost £22.60, while advance fares — which are sometimes still available the day before — can go as low as £13.30. From Kyle of Localsh, you can take a bus to the Isle of Skye, which is even more gorgeous, but that’s another post. Happy Monday everyone!

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© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.