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Skye’s prehistoric trails and mesmerising landscapes make for a magical trip

Portree before sunset, Isle of Skye (Getty Images)
Portree before sunset, Isle of Skye (Getty Images)

WE’RE standing on the beach at low tide, hands in pockets, heads down.

No one moves.

“Is it or isn’t it?” quizzes our 11-year-old, breaking the silence. We kneel down on the wet rock for a closer look. And sure enough there it is – a giant dinosaur footprint.

“Wow,” mouths “mini-me”, breathless with excitement. Wow indeed, agree her father and I.

An Corran at Staffin on the Isle of Skye is an awe-inspiring spot. A staggering 165 million years ago dinosaurs roamed here, leaving their marks in a bed of sandstone.

They were ornithopods, plant-eating creatures who walked on two legs, and who, along with the cetiosaurus, stegosaurus and the meat-eating Megalosaurus, make up Skye’s reputation as the “Dinosaur Isle”.

The best time to view the prints is at low tide and after a winter storm.

And it’s all the better if you can find someone in the know to guide you. Making an advance booking with Staffin Dinosaur Museum is highly advised.

© Getty Images
Abandoned bridge (Getty Images)

We head back to our home for the weekend, the luxury Skeabost Hotel, stopping off on the way to take in the Old Man of Storr, probably the most famous and busiest walk on the island. Said to have been created by a giant landslide, it is part of the Trotternish Ridge, and is one of the most photographed landscapes in the world.

By the time we reach our hotel, just a 10-minute drive from Portree, we are exhausted and ready to be pampered. Cue its attentive team who guide us to our table in the conservatory where we dine like kings and watch the sun set on Loch Snizort.

We listen as our waiter explains that on summer mornings fishermen pull lobsters from the loch which by evening are on diners’ tables – heaven!

A little early for the season, we however feast on creel-caught langoustines and crab cocktail, pan-roast fillet of salmon, and 30-day aged fillet of beef – every one delicious.

This hotel holds two AA rosettes for food. In the hands of head chef James Dixon, it took the title of Fine Dining Hotel of the Year for the Islands in 2017 and Informal Dining Restaurant of the Year in 2018.

Once a Victorian hunting lodge, Skeabost has a colourful history. Built in 1870 by Lachlan MacDonald on a fortune made from Indian indigo, it was owned in the 1920s by whisky exporter Duncan MacLeod who is said to have been in cahoots with Al Capone.

Over the sea to Skye – The Skye Bridge (Getty Images)

The lodge was transformed into a hotel three years ago by the Sonas group who own two other four-star boutique retreats on the island: Duisdale, a Victorian mansion developed in a contemporary style and Toravaig, which took the prize at the recent Scottish Hotel of the Year Awards.

Our room boasts a sprawling four-poster bed and a cavernous bathroom with his and her sinks, a walk-in shower and roll-top bath.

Little wonder then that it was Scottish Island Hotel of the Year in both 2016 and 2017.

After so much pampering there is only one treat that could top our visit. So it’s off to the Fairy Pools for a dose of natural beauty.

With the snow-capped Black Cuillin Mountains for their backdrop, these crystal-clear, cascading pools at Glenbrittle appear to move from deep blue to aquamarine in the light. Like a scene from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, they have a mesmerising effect on hoards of visitors who converge here.

There’s something magical about the Isle of Skye but you have to see it to believe it.

Facts

One night’s bed and breakfast at the Skeabost Hotel costs £125 per person or £250 per room. . To book a stay at any of the three hotels in the Sonas group, call 01471 820200 or visit skyehotel.co.uk