Northwest Skye - Claigan Coral Beach
Skye is famous for many things, but great beaches are not high on the list. You'll find better ones on Harris, or Tiree, or Uist, or Berneray, or Iona. But there are a few wee gems on Skye, and the Coral Beach at Claigan is one of them. Its combination of accessibility and white sand make it a very attractive option on a warm sunny day.
Northwest Skye - Fiadhairt
Perhaps more an explorer's adventure than a walk, the Fiadhairt peninsula in Loch Dunvegan offers a lot in a small area. Although is is relatively accessible, it is isolated and seldom visited, so wildlife abounds. It is a particulary good place from which to watch the local seal colony. To walk there from the road, just north of Dunvegan, takes only 15 minutes or so, but you should allow a good couple of hours if you want to explore the area. A highlight of the trip is the well preserved broch of Dun Fiadhairt.
Begin from the gate at NG239508, on the left of the road running from Dunvegan to Claigan.
Northwest Skye - Neist Point
Designed and built by one of the "Lighthouse Stevensons" - in this case David A Stevenson, the light and its associated dwellings cost £4,350 when they were built in 1909. The station was converted to automatic operation in 1990 and the lightkeepers were withdrawn. The foghorn at the front left corner is no longer in use.
The walk is on a tarmacadamed path for most of the way, and there are no difficulties with navigation.
Northwest Skye - Oronsay
This walk to the tidal island of Oronsay is a great favourite of mine for a short outing with long views. Navigation is simple, it is only about 5km for the return trip and it is mostly easy underfoot. The path can be boggy in places after rain, and it climbs to the top of 70m cliffs at the southern end of the island. But it's all pretty easy really, and very well worth a visit.
'Oronsay' is from the Norse for a tidal island. It is a common name in the north-west of Scotland. In fact there are two Oronsays on Skye alone. This one is situated just off the end of Ullinish Point at NG318364. There is a parking area at the end of the public road (NG322373) and a clear path runs from there along Ullinish Point to the causeway.
Northwest Skye - The Secret Waterfall
The secret waterfall comes as a real and very pleasant surprise on this easy stroll along a forestry road. There is safe parking for a few vehicles where the gated forest road leaves the public road, heading northwards.
Portree - Scorrybreac Circuit
The Scorrybreac circuit is a great little walk of about 3km, just north of Portree. It is ideal as a quick leg-stretch on a dull or wet day. It is a beautiful stroll after dinner, late on a summer evening. It is a fine walk for watching the wildlife, with frequent sightings of seals, golden eagles and even sea eagles.
The start is at NG487438 by the shore at Budhmor below the Cuillin Hills Hotel. There is generally space to park down here if you arrive by car.
Portree - The Lump
A walk up to and around 'The Lump' is easily the best stroll in Portree village. It can be done in under 30 minutes, though on a fine day you might well choose to take more than double that as you soak in the views. You'll find vistas of the Cuillin, of Loch Portree, of Beinn Tianabhaig, of Portree Pier and of the boats moored in Portree Bay. As well as that, there is the Apothecary's Tower to be visited, and the site of the annual Isle of Skye Highland Games. The Lump, properly known as Sron a' Mhill, has the most beautiful Scots Pine trees on it, together with some fine rhododendrons and lots of very cute rabbits.
Portree - Waterfalls at Ollach
This is a very pleasant short circular walk - less than a mile and a half long - in the Braes area, south of Portree. Though short, it is nicely varied, with woodland path, moorland track and public road as the walking surfaces. There are good waterfalls, and an excellent viewpoint that's ideal for a quiet moment on a summer evening.
Sleat - Caisteal Maol
Caisteal Maol is a prominent ruin, sitting on a small hill just east of Kyleakin. This walk is short and straightforward, though you will cross a beach which is best avoided at high tide, and the last section up to the ruin is on steep grass. Its name, which translates as 'bare castle', was given to it after it became a ruin. Formerly it was Dunakin - the castle of Haakon.
Sleat - Dunscaith Castle
Dunscaith Castle (or Dun Scathaich) is a short, easy walk from the road at Tokavaig, on the west coast of the Sleat peninsula. Leave the road at NG600118 and follow the track that runs along the shore towards an old barn with a red corrugated iron roof. After passing to the left of the barn, the track reduces to a path that carries on over a small rise to the castle itself.
What little is left of the castle sits on a big lump of rock, about 40 ft high, just off the point to which it is connected by the remains of a bridge. Only the side walls of the bridge are intact, the floor - probably a wooden drawbridge - having long ago fallen away. It is possible to cross by shuffling sideways along a narrow ledge at the base of the wall. But it would be a bad idea to fall off - it's a long drop onto hard rock below! A good alternative is to scramble up the castle rock from beach level. That can be done without much difficulty just to the right of the bridge.
Sleat - Leitir Fura
Leitir Fura is an abandoned village in a magnificent setting above the Sound of Sleat. The views from the village, and indeed from much of the walk, are excellent. This is a well waymarked circular route of about 7km. The paths are good and clear, but can be muddy in places. The starting point is a car park, about a mile along a forestry road in Kinloch Forest at NG704161. It is signed from the A851, four miles south of Broadford, almost opposite the Drumfearn road end. At the car park you will find information boards with a map and details of the walk.
Strath - Camasunary (from Kilmarie)
One of the longer of the 'strolls' on The Skye Guide, this is nonetheless a straightforward walk. It starts from the parking spot at the side of the Elgol road at NG545172 (just south of Kilmarie) and takes you across the well built track to the beach at Camasunary. There are great views all the way, but especially so as you reach the summit of the track at Am Mam (190m). From there, a panorama of the Cuillin Ridge, Sgurr na Stri, Marsco and Bla Bheinn opens up. Choose a day with good visibility for this one!
Strath - Marble Line Path
The Marble Line Path follows the line of an old railway track between Broadford and the Strath Suardal marble quarries. It is suitable, unlike most of Skye's paths, for wheelchairs, pushchairs and less mobile walkers. The old marble quarries themselves are very interesting to explore. This part of Skye is made primarily of Durness limestone - very different from the volcanic and metamorphic rocks that make up most of the rest of the island. It is near to here that Skye Marble is still mined today.
Strath - Suisnish
The community at Suisnish was cleared in 1853, along with the nearby village at Boreraig. This walk goes to the haunting ruins of Suisnish via a good track that has been upgraded by the military. It is an easy walk, but at about 8km return, it is at the top end of what this guide classifies as a stroll.
The starting point is at the end of the Kilbride road, where it reaches the beach at Camas Malag at NG582191. (From the approach road, there is a good view to your right of the marble quarries at Torrin.) There is plenty of space to park by the beach. Navigation is no challenge at all - simply follow the obvious track all the way to Suisnish.
Trotternish - Caisteal Uisdean
Caiseal Uisdean, or Hugh's Castle, is one of the less famous castles of Skye. Its history is interesting though, and it makes a good destination for a pleasant coastal walk of under 3km return. Much of the route has been made into a vehicle track, so navigation is easy. By the point where you have to leave the track, the destination is in sight.
Trotternish - Loch Sheanta
On the east coast of Trotternish, just north of Digg, there is a small parking place at NG469698. From there, a well constructed path leads downhill to the holy loch - Loch Sheanta. The walk is short, less than 1 km return, and the navigation is easy. Loch Sheanta is quite magical. It is fed by the spouting of two of the purest, clearest springs imaginable, one at each end. It glows with an electric turquoise colour from its depths, and you can see every detail of the bottom through the almost invisible water. That in itself makes the stroll worthwhile, but there is more to it than that.
Did you know?
The last glaciers on Skye melted away as recently as 11,500 years ago.
(That's about a geological nanosecond ago.)
Walking on Skye
The walks on The Skye Guide are categorised as 'strolls', 'moderate', or 'stretching'. You may find what I call a stroll to be a major expedition, or you may think that what I call stretching is nothing much at all. It depends on your fitness and experience.
The hills and cliffs on the island can be dangerous and the weather is fickle. There are places to fall off in these parts, and not all of them are at high altitude.
It's a good idea to read this.