Portree – the capital of Skye! To those of you who have not had the very real pleasure of visiting the Isle of Skye I bet that conjures up mental images of a bustling city so I had better explain further or you're going to be in for a shock! Portree is a lovely, but relatively small town situated on the East Coast of Skye, and it makes an ideal base for exploring, as it is quite central to the island. It is sheltered to the west by the island itself and to the east by the Isle of Raasay and beyond that the mainland of Scotland. The name Portree denotes Kings Harbour and recalls a visit by James V. A short, steep road descends to the harbour where you can see the lifeboat moored awaiting action. There is a lifeboat day, usually on August Bank Holiday Saturday, when you can see the lifeboat performing 'rescues' in the harbour. There are many pleasure craft here and boat trips leave at regular intervals. We went on a trip to see a salmon farm and then on to see the seals basking on one of the many smaller islands in The Sound of Raasay. On the way the skipper caught a fish and attracted a sea eagle to feed close to the boat! The shopping in Portree consists of the staple shops, butcher, baker, newsagent, Post Office etc, together with a selection of excellent gift and antique shops. There is also a small branch of Safeways in the town and a larger Co-op on the outskirts going out towards Dunvegan. So, if you’re self-catering there’s no problem getting supplies. There are also a couple of good shops selling hiking and climbing supplies so there’s no excuse for trying any climbing ill prepared! The major banks, Clydesdale and Royal Bank of Scotland, are also represented in Portree. Meall House overlooking the harbour, which now houses the Tourist Information Office, is the oldest building in Portree and was once used as a prison. There is a good selection of hotels, guesthouses,
self-catering accommodation and campsites in the area. The present Royal Hotel stands on the site of Mac Nabs Inn where said Bonnie Prince Charlie goodbye to Flora Macdonald in 1746 before exile to France. The Cuillin Hills Hotel, The Bosville Hotel and The Portree Hotel are three more of the main hotels in the centre of Portree. The Portree House Hotel is situated just out of Portree on the Uig road and has a restaurant serving excellent food. We always pay at least one visit there when we’re on the island. On the subject of food, Portree has a wide variety of eating establishments. The hotels all have restaurants providing meals, but, if you’re budget doesn’t run to this, there are many pubs serving pub grub. There are also a couple of good takeaways. There’s a fish and chip shop on the side of the main car park and another on the harbour side. There is a Chinese takeaway down one of the side streets in the centre of Portree, which is very good and an Indian restaurant down by the car park. I can’t vouch for the Indian restaurant, as we haven’t tried that one yet. There is also a fish restaurant on the harbour side, which looks good but is again as yet untried by us. We hope to remedy that next time we visit. The pubs in the town also have live music in the evenings, usually traditional stuff – accordion, bagpipes, guitar etc. We didn’t really bother much with this so again I can’t comment any further than to say it is available.