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Solo on the Skye Trail

Solo on the Skye Trail

Postby AlfaFoxtrot » Tue Oct 05, 2021 6:53 pm

Date walked: 06/09/2021

Time taken: 6 days

Distance: 128 km

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I walked the trail solo in September 2021, carrying tent & two days food, resupplying midway in Portree. I completed the full trail (from the Cicerone Guidebook) in 5.5 days – this isn’t going to be a detailed writeup (others have done this very well already!) but just contains a few notes and observations that may be useful to others. Overall it's a great route, going through a wide variety of terrain with great views (if the weather plays ball) and seeing a good number of Skye's highlights as well as quieter parts.

General points:
- I’ve listed the distance and elevation gain as recorded by my phone (Strava on an Android phone with a barometer). The GPS tracks looked a little wonky so the distances are probably too high (the total is a few miles off) and not sure about the elevation.
- The first ~35miles of the trail to Portree have about twice the elevation gain of the subsequent ~45miles to Broadford – it starts hard and then becomes easy! Hiking poles were well worth it the whole way for me.
- I drove to Skye and was able to leave my car at Torvaig Campsite whilst hiking – I booked a night there before and after the trail as well as halfway.

Day 1 – Rubha Hunish > Loch Langaig
Approx. 10miles, 1,900ft elevation

• There's a bus stop conveniently right outside the campsite entrance, I took one at 9.10am so was ready to start the trail at just after 10am.
• The detour around the headland isn't essential, but pleasant enough and gives good views of the cliffs and bothy.
• There’s water available on-trail from the burn in Kilmaluag, then again from a burn not long before dropping down off the clifftop to Flodigarry Bay. I expect you could get some from the hostel as well if it was open.
• Flodigarry hostel was closed, so I carried on up the driveway and along the road to camp next to Loch Langaig (about 1mile) – this is pretty close to the road but very quiet (cars & people).

Day 2 – Loch Langaig > Bearreig Bay
Approx. 20miles, 5,300ft elevation

My original plan had to been to wild camp on Trotternish Ridge somewhere – I was lured into setting off early with some blue skies and an OK-ish forecast, only for it to turn incredibly windy/rainy/foggy not long after passing the Quiriang car park and getting onto the ridge proper!

The weather didn’t ease up and it wasn’t at all appealing to setup camp - the poor visibility also meant I was reluctant to wander around the ridge trying to find one of the water sources mentioned in other posts or burns shown on the map.

Navigation is easy to start with as you just follow the edge of the cliff, but towards the end you have to peel away from the edge – I had a map+compass and a GPX trail on my phone, but with no landmarks visible I found the phone invaluable to know exactly where I was.

There was a small stream just before the Old Man where I refilled bottles, but you could also potentially do this from Loch Leathan. I then didn’t come across any more on-trail water until the stream where you drop off the cliffs before hitting Portree (a good few miles further on)

I carried on past the Old Man, down the road next to Loch Leathan and ended up camping down in Bearreaig Bay. By that point I was rather tired (the ridge is hard work and pretty steep in parts) and just setup on the grass in front of the hydro station as it was nice and flat, and I couldn’t be bothered to search further along the beach. Had the place to myself and very calm (no wind when not on the ridge!), just some humming from the hydro station.

Day 3 – Bearreig Bay > Portree
Approx. 8miles, 1800ft elevation
• Very pleasant section to Portree with great views back to Trotternish Ridge and out to sea once you’re up on the cliffs again
• As noted above I didn’t come across any on on-trail water sources until you get to the river on the steep downhill section at the end of the cliffs
• I arrived in Portree after a few hours and took the rest of the day to relax, get some ‘real’ food, wash clothes a bit and recharge devices.

Day 4 – Portree > Camasunary
Approx. 21miles, 1,600ft elevation

I walked from the campsite down into Portree to rejoin the trail and then out along the main road. I got to the salt marsh bit to discover that the path was very much underwater – think I was just unlucky with the tide times but meant I continued along the main road as per the guidebook

• In hindsight I would not really recommend this at all – there’s no footpath so you’re just on the (narrow) hard shoulder, and even this disappears across the small bridges so it makes for a fairly non-relaxing walk out as it’s a fast road.
• The subsequent road walk along the small road is quiet but to be honest very dull and hard on the feet. The weather was OK when I did it, but you don’t (IMO) get nice views until after the turn off for Peinchorran. From here it’s a short but pleasant walk through the hamlet to the start of Loch Sligachan.
• Overall I would be tempted to just skip from the centre of Portree to the turnoff.
• The minor road crosses various small streams so you could pick up water along the way – once you hit Loch Sligachan (and in Glen Sligachan) the trail crosses loads of water sources.
• Sligachan campsite was closed, I stopped in at the pub for a coffee and snack and they were happy for me to come in with muddy shoes and my pack
• I made it to Camsunary Bay and had the bothy to myself initially, joined by a couple later on which still left plenty of space and a lovely place to spend the night.

Day 5 – Camsunary > Loch Slapin (about 2miles past Torrin)
Approx. 16miles, 2,100ft elevation

• I particularly enjoyed the first section, the views of the Cuilins across the water are great. I had no issues with the path and drop-offs, didn’t feel in danger and wouldn’t have said it really slowed me down (although you are climbing quite steeply out of both bays).
• The guidebook gives the alternate route over Bla Bheinn – I climbed this a few days after finishing the trail with a day bag and I think doing it with a full pack would be both pretty masochistic (IMO the descent would be the hardest) as well as missing out on the nice coastal section.
• On-trail water from a river not long after you hit the road before the Jethro Tull house, and again once you’re down and walking round the loch towards Torrin
• I carried on through Torrin and ended up camping a few miles later, pretty much on the trail looking over Loch Slapin (sadly passing by the lovely flat grass at the bay after the quarry, as it says for sheep grazing only!)
• The trail crossed several streams so water wasn’t a problem

Day 6 – Loch Slapin > Broadford
Approx. 9miles, 1,000ft elevation
• Nothing much to add really – a pleasant walk round the coast with different scenery, followed by one fairly gentle climb up before the cruise down into Broadford (then regular buses back to Portree)
• Various streams along the way for water
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 5, 2021

Re: Solo on the Skye Trail

Postby Scottk » Sun Oct 17, 2021 6:35 pm

I camped on the lovely grass! It was very nice but quite hard to get pegs in due to the stones. I came from the other direction and didn’t see the sign until I was leaving the next morning. Think the sign is to deter cars and camped vans. I have still to finish the trail as the weather turned very stormy with gale force winds.
Posts: 346
Joined: Aug 22, 2017

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