Date walked: 27/05/2013
Time taken: 6 hours
I was looking forward to this long distance walk in more ways than one. Although I have been to Skye dozens of times before, and in doing so done many sections of this walk before, I had never done it as a whole, also I would be taking our friend Jane with us and introducing her for her first visit to the delights of this magical Island, I first met Jane on the TGO challenge in 2011.
When I mentioned that I was going to do this long distance walk, she jumped at the chance of joining us.
As Jane puts it….
“A trip to the Isle of Skye has long been on my ‘to do’ list, since I was a child in fact, when I didn’t even realise I had a ‘to do list’!! I can remember singing the Skye Boat Song at school and imagining Skye to be a mystical, magical place. I suppose those thoughts have been buried for quite a number of years until recently, when I have discovered the joys of walking in Scotland (did I say joys!!) and I have met people who have the knowledge and patience to enable a novice like me to experience the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of the Scottish Highlands.
One such person is Alan, who I met in 2011 on the TGO Challenge. The challenge was my first experience of backpacking and wild camping, I like to jump in at the deep end!!!! I have kept in touch with Alan, and joined in on a WalkHighlands meet in Snowdonia in October 2011, where I met his wife Ele. So to cut a long story short, Alan and Ele invited me to join them to walk the Skye Trail, needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity and have been looking forward to it since!! I am expecting the weather to be foul as it always is if ever I don my walking boots and head North, so to Alan and Ele, I apologise in advance for that!!
Skye through the eyes of a newbie and an old hand!!!….let the adventure begin”
Jane travelled to our home in N Wales from Hastings on the Friday evening.
After catching up over a meal and a few drinks on the Friday evening, we packed the car Saturday morning and were away by 10.30am, headed to the Highlands for another first for Jane… a Saturday night in the Clachaig Inn, Glencoe, where we met up with several friends who travelled up to join us.
The gang in the Clachaig
We left a cloudy Glencoe and headed for one of my favourite west coast villages Applecross, this journey north would take us through Glen Shiel, where as if on cue the cloud broke and the sun shone for the rest of the journey. We stopped for lunch at Plockton, where Jane was spellbound by it’s peacefull beauty.
Our journey then took us around Loch Carron before heading over the dramatic Bealach na Ba, the highest road pass in Scotland.
Bealach na Ba
We stopped at the Applecross campsite where we watched the sunset from the Inn with a few ales and a meal.
Jane’s thoughts of the first couple of days of our trip.….
What to say about the start of this adventure, it has been such a mixture of awe inspiring scenery, meeting lovely people in Glencoe on Saturday (they told me to say that!!), who I felt I already knew through hearing Alan and Ele,s chat and who made me feel very welcome and visiting places that I have dreamt of visiting but never thought I would!!!
The trip from Wrexham heading North was filled with anticipation for me and once past Glasgow and with Loch Lomond in our sights I could feel the excitement building, I felt like a child on a big adventure!! I have been through Glencoe on a couple of occasions in the past but have never enjoyed a drink in The Clachaig Inn, shame on me, I hear you say!! So after setting up camp in the ‘ultra quiet area’ and eating our meal we headed up the road to join the rest of the crew, some of whom I had met in Snowdonia, we had a lovely evening and The Clachaig lived up to it’s reputation and then some!!!!. The trip back to the campsite was the noisiest I have witnessed for sometime, but very entertaining!!!
The following morning after packing up the car and saying our goodbyes we head North and the further north we get the bigger the grin on my face, I had run out of superlatives by the time we got to Shiel Bridge, with still so much more to come, Eilean Donan castle, Plockton, Bealach na ba and fish and chips and sunset at The Applecross Inn. On day 3 of Alan, Ele and Jane’s big adventure, everything has been so perfect, even the sun came out and it pains me to say that I can only find myself giving Alan compliment after compliment and he is just lapping them up!!!! What lies ahead?...I have no idea but I can’t wait……
My wife Ele had decided not to do the walk with us, so she would be our taxi and back-up for each day, this meant we could go light-weight with just day sacks and also cut out some road walking if we did not fancy any of the sections of tarmac.
Doing it this way I decided we could cut the walks into Six days instead of the usual seven days shown in the Walkhighland “Long distance trails” section.
I won’t describe the walk in too much detail as very good detailed information on all sections can be found here….
The Skye Trail
Usually the walking from Broadford to Elgin would be done over 2 days, but that’s with a fair amount of road walking involved, so we took the option of skipping a long section around Loch Slappin and therefore being able to do it in one day.
Monday 18th May 2013.
Weather Mainly cloudy, calm to start, breezy later, cool.
Loch Cill Chriosd to Loch Slapin.
11.4km, 7.1m ^329 ,v348m. Part 2 of walk 6.20km, 3.85m. ^177 ,v157m
We drove to the ruined chapel by Loch Cill Chiosd on the Broadford to Elgol road.
Start of walk
From there we picking up the path that leads south over the hillside and then drops to down to Loch Eishort and the sad and lonely deserted village of Boreraig, which is one of the best and most intact examples of a cleared village on Skye.
Dropping down to Boreraig
The village was emptied, completely and by force, in 1853. As in many other places in Scotland at that time, the landlords favoured sheep to people on their lands. Many of the inhabitants from here were 'assisted' to travel to Australia or New Zealand. This was a large village and the remains of the houses are in amazing condition after more than 150 years. This is truly a haunting place, a place to stop and imagine the injustices that would have been inflicted here all those years ago.
From the village we followed the path westwards along the coast passing a normally fine waterfall called Allt na Peighinn, today it was just a trickle.
At Rubha Suisnish the path turns north following a path with great views across Loch Slapin to Bla Bheinn, not that we could see Bla Bheinn today which was cloud capped.
We re-met with Ele at the small bay of Camas Malag where we would set camp later.
Here we took our option of skipping a long section a road walking around Loch Slapin. After the short drive Ele dropped us at Kilmarie where a path led along the coast to a minor road that climbs over the hillside west to Elgol, a lovely little village with a fantastic view of the Cuillins, unfortunately the Cuillins were also cloud bound today, but still they looked dramatic under the brooding cloud.
Jane’s thought of today’s walk…
Today was our first day on Skye, as we cross the bridge to Run by Snow Patrol (even Alan’s taste in music is good…damn and blast!!). I can’t wait to get the pack on and get some walking done!! Alan is full of useful information and historical facts and when we reach the clearance village, we take a moment to ponder the plight of the inhabitants before moving on along the coastal path, complete with a seal for good measure!! Every twist and turn in the path greets us with a stunning view and although today has been overcast, the clouds add a certain something!! As I am typing this the others are preparing to have a fire on the beach, so it would be rude not to join them……as I might have mentioned…..perfect!!!
Monday night we wild-camped by Loch Slapin, and although it remained cloudy and cool, we had a great night by our camp fire with music, beer, wine and laughter.
Weather Cloudy, cool breeze.
Elgol to Sligachan
17.5km, 10.9m, ^312.[u]
This section of the walk is one of the highlights of the Skye trail as it goes though the heart of the Cuillins. First it follows the coast along a path high above Loch Scavaig to Camasunary, walking this path you have what is probably one of the finest views of the Cuillins of Skye ahead of you, again not today as most of the peaks were again in the cloud.
Coastal walk, Camasunary Bay.
After this lovely walk along the cliff top we popped into Camasunary Bothy for a break. I have good memories of a night I spent here some years ago.
Egge from Camasunary
The track goes inland from here and continues past Loch na Creitheach which is dwarfed by the high Cuillins on either side of this stark glen.
Loch na Creitheach
Loch na Creitheach
Loch an Athain
For such a mountainous place this is an easy path only rising to a high point of around 95 meters. Once past the high point the path continues down Glen Sligachan to the Hotel and campsite where were due to camp on Thursday night.
[u] Jane’s thought of todays walk….
Today’s walk has been both scenic and dramatic, the first part from Elgol to Camasunary, was delightful! It took us along cliff edge paths with stunning views of the Cuillins, after a short break and a quick map reading lesson….me being the pupil of course!! We headed along the pass with the very dramatic black Cuillins to the left and the slightly softer, less rugged red Cuillins to the right, with a couple of lochs for good measure! This was a lovely, easy and most enjoyable walk!
Tuesday night: Portree Campsite.
WeatherSunshine and a few showers, cold strong northerly winds.
Sligachan to Portree (via Ben Tianavaig…not normally done on Skye trail)
18.0km, 11.2m ^637 ,v614m.
We drove back to Sligathan walked through the campsite and followed the path along the north side of Loch Sligachan, the two river crossings causing no problem today.
Cuillins from Sligachan
Cuillins from Sligachan
North coast from the road
One shower hit us halfway along the scenic Lochside path but soon passed. We eventually reached a minor road at Penifiler, from there we had several miles of road walking to the village of Camastianavaig…we both agreed that there are worse roads than this to walk. We had a break at the small bay at Camastianavaig, a lovely setting and the sun shone to order.
After our break we diverted off the Skye trail to climb Ben Tianavaig, a small hill with big views, one I had done a few years ago which I knew Jane would enjoy. It did not disappoint, what a great view, by now Jane was running out of superlatives! We also had some terrific winds to deal with up high, luckily we found a spot to shelter for 20 minutes as some dark clouds passed, then we got some sun drenched pictures…well worth the wait.
Ben Tianavaig, view North.
There was a path up to the summit, but its pathless and rough going on the north side, just as we neared our waiting taxi (Ele) at Penifiler another shower of hail blasted us for a five minutes.
Jane’s thought of today’s walk….
Today’s walk started off with a nice easy path along the coast and apart from the odd, brief shower the sun shone on us and at the appropriate times too!! The walk along the road wasn’t too tedious and a few minutes respite in Camastianavaig bay was just heaven, a beautiful view, sunshine and a seat!!!.....what luxury!! So then to the climb up Ben Tianavaig, which looked much worse than it was and was well worth the effort!! Stunning views and as Alan wanted to wait until the sun came out again for the benefit of photos, I was more than happy to take full advantage of relaxing and taking in the view. The walk down was altogether a different matter, impossible to keep up with Alan who should be called ‘mountain goat’ not ‘mountain star’!! Ele was a welcome sight as always, another great day for sure!
Wednesday night: Portee campsite.
Weather Gails, cold, cloudy, sleet and snow.
Portree to The Storr.
11.5km, 7.2m. ^554 ,v476m.
This was our shortest walking day, and just as well with the weather that was thrown at us today. Just a few dry spells between horizontal sleet and snow, and all of it hitting us face on. We left Portree campsite for a short road section before a bit of a climb to the fabulous cliff-top. From there it’s easy going (apart from the winds that blasted us!) along the top of the dramatic east coast with superb views across the Sound of Raasay to the mainland, not that we saw much of the mainland today, much of it was cloud covered and beside we had heads down trying to dodge the stinging snow and hail that hit us full on periodically.
Clifftop walking through one of the many showers
View to the Storr
Our walk finished by the road by Loch Leathan just below the Old man of Storr.
Jane’s thought of todays walk….
Well our good fortune with the weather was never going to last all week and today was the day! rain, wind, sleet and a little bit of snow, I am feeling thoroughly weather beaten but I think our walk today along the cliffs could be described as exhilarating. We managed to find a couple of spots for a short break, sheltered from the elements!! A short day but stunning never the less. As I see Skye in all the different weather I have realised that each one adds it’s own take on the island and none of them disappoint!
Thursday night: With the cold winds and showers we whimped out of our planned camp at Sligathan, instead we booked into the Sligathan bunkhouse, much to the ladies approval.
WeatherCloudy to start, sunny later, light cool breeze.
The Storr to The Quiraing Carpark on B-road at the high pass.
20.3km, 12.6m ^1396 ,v1317m
After our short walk yesterday, this was our longest and hardest day walking the along the switchback Trotternish Ridge (8 ups and downs).
Again this is another highlight of the Skye trail, but a stark contrast to the rest of the Skye trail which is mainly at a low level, this section climbs to a high point of 668m over the summit of Hartaval and several other summits around 600m.
Although this is a long and tiring walk the rewards are well worth the effort, as this must be one of the most dramatic ridge traverses in Britain.
The forecast was for better weather today, as we drove from Sligathan the sun was shining through patchy clouds, but low cloud hung over The Storr and a chilly wind meant we donned all of our warm gear as we walked up the path to the old man of Storr. We passing through this iconic and pre-historic-like landscape which was aptly mist shrouded intermittently to give it an eerie atmospheric feel. Once up on the ridge it’s an absolute joy to walk…well apart from the many up climbs.
This is the 2nd time I’ve walked the ridge, the first time I wild-camped on one of the summits half-way, at least it was a bit easier today with only day-packs.
By the time we had walked passed Hartaval the cloud had started to rise and break, soon to leave us walking in sunshine for the remainder of the walk. Jane was flagging by the time we reached the Bealach nan Coisichean and the last steep upward section to the summit of Bioda Buidhe, I believe several swear words were uttered on this last climb, thankfully it was worth all the effort on this never to be forgotten day.
Big sky from the Trotternish Ridge
Again our welcome taxi was waiting at the car park on the road pass from Staffin to Uig.
Jane’s thought of todays walk….
I started the day in anticipation of the day ahead, not really knowing what to expect!! A few ‘ups and downs’ were the words that had been used to describe the walk today!!....hmmm!!! and 14 miles!!! that’s ok I thought!! so, apart from the downs and the enormously steep ups, today has been a wondrous day, we couldn’t have had better weather if we had planned it ourselves! The views have been just stunning and a little overwhelming at times! And I soon learnt that 14 miles on the South Downs is a very different matter to 14 miles over this kind of terrain!! To my annoyance Alan makes it all look so easy!!......gggrrrgghhh!!! And so to the last hill, what a monster and I swear it was vertical! There were indeed some very choice words under my breath, my legs seemed to have stopped working at this point but it was all so worth the effort and I would recommend this as a ‘must do’ walk. Ele was a most welcome sight at the end as ever.
Friday night: Uig campsite.
The Quiraing to Rhuba Hunish
15.9km, 9.9mi, ^451 ,v677m
Weather Cloudy, breezy, some light rain later.
A short drive back to the car-park at the pass got us walking on the path that leads to the wonderful rocky landscape of the Quirang.
It was on this path in June 2010 that we witnessed a horrible accident, as my Trip Report at the time recalls…
“We left the car park and after walking along the path for 10mins, suddenly a man who was only yards ahead of us slipped, fell and catapulted down a very steep 80% gradient gully to land on loose rocks and boulders, his wife screaming as he fell, he came to halt after about 50 ft, Wow, it was hard to believe what I was seeing, immediately I rushed downwards, finding a steep route to the right of the gully, imagining after what I had just witnessed that I would find him with broken bones at least or even worse…dead. I shouted down to him as I made my way down as to how he was and was something broken, thankfully he replied nothing broken, I was with him within 1 minute, blood was pouring from a big 5 inch scull deep head cut, and I could also see an egg like bump on his forehead, but apart from although his body was bruised and battered he was “lucky” not to have any more serious injuries. I immediately told him he would need hospital treatment, and luckily I had a phone signal, so phoned 999 for an Ambulance and Mountain rescue, to cut a 1.5 hour story short, the paramedics came about 30mins later, patched him up, decided they couldn’t get him from where he was and alerted the RAF for a helicopter to get him out, they arrived and winched him on a stretcher as we cowered under the hurricane like downdraft, and took him to Broadford hospital.”
Thankfully we passed this spot without incident today.
The path from the Quiraing
After passing the eerie Quirang the path drops down to the road at Flodigarry. From there we walked along the road for about 1 mile, then left it for a short walk to the cliff top path for an exhilarating walk high above The Minch with great views to the mainland and with the excellent visibility today distant views as far as Cape Wrath.
Just before we reached Port Gobhlaig we had to cross a small river, I crossed trying to show a tentative Jane where to step, just as I said “watch out the rock is slippy” ….slippy slidy went Jane into the river up to her waist , I pulled her out quickly before she was swept downstream following one of her walking poles which we waved goodbye to! At least she was laughing as I took the picture to remember the moment. Luckily Ele and the car were only 5 minutes walk away, so after a quick change we all set off for our final leg of the Journey to the northern tip of Skye and the end of our walk at Rubha Hunish.
A very wet Jane
The mainland from Port Gobhlaig
We Ele and I spend a wonderful night in the terrifically situated Lookout Bothy at Rubha Hunish, where we were rewarded with a view across to the whole length of the Outer Hebrides from Barra in the south to Lewis in the North with an evening of big blue skies, rainbows, sunbursts, massive brooding dark shower clouds sweeping across the Islands and the sea, and then a lovely sunset to finish off the wonderful evening.
That report with pictures are here…
Ele had joined us for this last section of the walk so was able to capture our celebrations on video…a Morecambe & Wise type run to the Bothy…well we were happy!
Made it! Rubha Hunish.
Jane’s thought of today’s walk….
Today’s walk was a relatively easy, wind down to the Look Out bothy that I have been hearing about throughout this trip and it didn’t disappoint. After heading up to the Quirang, we followed an easy path and down onto the road before cutting up onto the cliffs which were magnificent and which also gave us clear views of the mainland and the islands with the Look Out bothy in the distance. I say a relatively easy walk because it was until we came to river…… now anyone who has walked with me will know that I am not good with rivers, I dither about and usually end up with at least a foot in the water, well I outdid myself this time and fell in, sitting in the water waist high!! I would like to say that Alan was concerned but after hoiking me out of the water, his first thought was to take a photo which I am sure will appear somewhere soon!! Luckily Ele was only five minutes away with the car and our gear so after a quick change in the lay by we headed off for the last 30 minutes walk joined by Ele! By the time we had reached the bothy the weather had deteriorated and it made for an atmospheric end to our adventure. It has been a wonderful experience all round and with such good company, so I would like to end with a huge thank you to Alan and Ele for letting me join them on their trip and enabling me to share this experience with them and to meet new friends along the way!!!
Thanks also to Ele for being our Taxi and backup.
And so the end of a brilliant walk, in the company of someone who really appreciated the wonderful scenery we had walked through in the last 6 days, this walk was for you Jane, it will live in your memory forever, as it will in mine.
The video of the walk….
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Date walked: 21/06/2012
Date walked: 20/06/2012