This is one of my favourite short walks. In a circuit of around 7km, it mixes a section of forestry road, an optional moorland summit, and a breathtaking path along the top of some remarkable inland cliffs. Wildlife and huge views complete a great, low effort, experience. Be cautious though. The cliff edge is indistinct in parts and it would be a one way only trip to the bottom...
Beinn an Sguirr is not the proper hill that its name suggests. It is a long and impressive landslip escarpment, running above Oans Point in the south west of Loch Snizort. The walk begins at the road end in Gillen, at NG267594.
Go through the gate at the end of the road and follow the well made track from there, ignoring three possible left turns, until you reach the junction at NG266582. Turn left there, still on a good forestry road. This climbs steadily upwards, soon leaving the forest and opening onto moorland.
Near the top of the hill you have a choice of route:
- A sign at NG279579 marks the start of a rough, waymarked path over Cnoc Breac. This is effectively a short-cut, missing out the first part of the cliff-top walk, but having the bonus of enhancing the great views. From the top you have a panorama from Dunvegan Head in the west, to the Cuillin in the south, and eastwards across Loch Snizort to the Trotternish Ridge. This route is boggy in places.
The alternative is to carry on along the forest road, now descending, until you reach a small cairn and signpost at NG287585. Turn left off the road, through a short wet section between two blocks of forest, and you will find yourself on the cliff-top. All the way along there is a visible path. After a bit, this meets up with the alternative 'short-cut' route.
Before the end of the cliff section the trees come very close to the edge in places. If you are unsure of your safety, it's quite possible to cut into the forest briefly at these parts. Along this section there is a great opportunity to see eagles at close quarters. They are often to be found circling and swooping around the cliff edge - sometimes bursting suddenly into sight from below you.
When your path rejoins a forestry track on your left, follow it to the right to a T junction, turn left and, when you reach the ruins of an old village, go through a gate on your right and continue back to your starting point at Gillen.