You might want to spend all your time on the Isle of Raasay relaxing with a dram or a G&T admiring the magical views, but if you can tear your eyes away, this small but mighty island has a lot to offer.
Discover Raasay’s secret beaches and exciting wildlife, cycle around the island, or head to the outdoor centre for a kayak around the Inner Sound. Whether you are visiting for a day or staying a bit longer, here’s some fun activities (in no particular order):
Dun Caan is Raasay’s flat-topped peak that sits like a fort watching over the island as its stories unfold. Dùn means fort/fortress in Gaelic, and you will spot it in many other place names around Scotland.
With endless views overlooking Applecross on the mainland, and out west to the Cuillin on Skye, the Outer Hebrides and beyond, you won’t be disappointed.
There are various routes to reach the summit that is 432m above sea level. If you would like to take your car, there is a small parking area at the bottom of the main path.
Inverarish is the main township on Raasay, packed with inviting forest trails, fascinating history, and gorgeous views.
You can visit the Raasay Community Stores (& Post Office) for souvenirs and snacks aplenty, the Raasay Gallery, Raasay Studio, or indeed the ruins of an Iron Age broch, or the impressive remains of Raasay’s iron ore industry.
Calum’s Road epitomises the character of Raasay. Following the Highland Clearances, and until around the beginning of the 20th Century, many residents of Raasay lived in the north of the island, beyond Brochel Castle.
For years, locals petitioned Highland Council to build a road connecting Arnish in the north to the rest of the island, thus helping prevent further depopulation. Eventually, in the 1960s, Calum MacLeod began digging his own road so that his daughter could visit home more easily while away at school on Skye. He completed the road over the course of a decade with little more than a pick, a shovel, and a wheelbarrow, and you can still see the impressive scale of Calum’s endeavours today.
It’s not a holiday unless you visit a castle, is it? Brochel Castle, the seat of the MacLeods of Raasay until around the mid 17th Century, sits at the foot of Calum’s Road on the north-east of the island. There is ample parking and footpaths that lead around the base of the castle and down to the shore, although the castle itself is now fenced off due to its state of disrepair.
Historical records show evidence of a ‘fair orchard’ and a ‘Chapel’ within the grounds of Brochel Castle, and an ‘opening in the wall from which hot water or stones could be thrown upon an invader’! The castle was allegedly destroyed by the Hanoverians after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, where the Raasay MacLeods supported Bonnie Prince Charlie/ Teàrlach Òg Stiùbhart, who spent two nights hiding out on the island in the aftermath of the battle.
From the pier on Raasay, you can spot the 19th century farm steading straight ahead and a fork in the road. Turning right from there, you will find the Larch Box selling tasty treats, teas and coffees, followed by the Silver Grasshopper shop, which sits right next to the distillery selling beautiful, locally designed Sterling silver jewellery.
Circuiting to the left of the steading, around the back of Raasay House, you can take in some of the island’s rich history, including the Raasay Walled garden and ruined 11th Century St Moluag’s chapel, a Scottish Missionary and contemporary of St Columba who evangelised the Picts of Scotland in the 6th century. Keep going to reach the Pictish stone and climb up onto Temptation Hill for fine views across the Sound of Raasay towards Skye, and discover Dùn Bhorghadail and Loch na Muilneadh (The Mill Loch) on the way. Follow this up with a visit to Camus Alba (North Bay) to spot seals and otters, and perhaps some tasty dinner at Raasay House Hotel.
This stunningly beautiful walk, with views of the sun setting behind the Cuillin mountains, makes for an unforgettable experience. Hallaig was Raasay’s largest township before the Highland Clearances when ninety-four families (more than double the population of Raasay today) were cleared from the island. The grassy footpath takes you from Fearns as far as the cairn commemorating Sorley MacLean’s poem, Hallaig, which evokes the poignant history of the Hallaig township once filled with MacLean’s ancestors. Across the sea, views of Applecross and Torridon dominate the horizon and sea eagles and golden eagles are often spotted overhead. The path is gentle but becomes less defined after Hallaig wood, where you can continue on to explore the ruins of the Hallaig township.
Inver (Inbhir in Gaelic, meaning ‘river mouth’) is a beautiful secluded tranquil bay, accessed by a 30 minute walk through an ancient forest that winds down from the road at Glam on the west coast of Raasay. One of Raasay’s best kept secrets, the queen and her family would visit Inver for a picnic every year while the Royal Yacht Britannia lay moored off the coast. With views of Skye’s Trotternish Ridge, Portree bay, and if you’re lucky, some dolphins, whales or porpoises, you will never want to leave.
Our friends at the Seaflower Skye based in Portree offer wonderful boat tours to Raasay and Rona, or evening Prosecco tours around Portree Bay. Hearty seafood lunches and our Raasay spirits are served onboard their longer tours, where you can soak up the beautiful views of Rona harbour while listening to the many species of birds who nest there. A truly special experience.
The Isle of Raasay is also the perfect, secluded base from which to explore the neighbouring Isle of Skye. Remember to arrive with a full tank of fuel, or a fully charged electric car because the nearest charge points or filling stations are back in Broadford or Portree on Skye.
Join our Slàinte Club today. Our members enjoy 10% off distillery tours booked online, £5 off their first online order over £50, and are always the first to find out about new releases and stories from the island.
We are open Monday to Saturday all year round until the evening of Friday 17th December 2021.
Monday to Saturday: 10:00-17:00 (last tour of the day starts at 5pm).
The Isle of Raasay, an island rooted in centuries of illicit distilling, provides the ingredients for the perfect dram. Our lightly peated Isle of Raasay Single Malt is an expression of this magical place.
Our zesty, smooth and refreshing Isle of Raasay Gin combines an exciting selection of ten Raasay and traditional botanicals, including Raasay juniper, sweet orange peel, rhubarb root and our triple distilled spirit.
Enjoy a warm island welcome at our award-winning visitor centre and whisky hotel, Borodale House. Discover our tour options and book today, or better still, wake up in the distillery for an unforgettable experience!