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Skye Trail in August

Skye Trail in August


Postby Tom_DM » Fri Oct 30, 2020 3:37 pm

Route description: Skye Trail

Date walked: 27/08/2020

Time taken: 7 days

Distance: 128 km

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I walked the Skye trail with a mate in late August 2020, wild camping with two tents. We mostly followed the route and schedule suggested on this website, except for the Trotternish Ridge section, which we started on the afternoon on day 1 and finished on the morning of day 3. If you're planning on wild camping this seems like the most sensible way to do it. We didn't encounter any major problems along the way; the main issues I can see people having are lack of food resupply (the Co-op in Portree is your only real option) and the potential for bad conditions on the ridge. Here’s how it went:

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The view from inside the Lookout Bothy


Day 0: Arrival at Rubha Hunish

This walk is fairly easily accessible by public transport. We got the 10am Citylink bus from Fort William to Portree which dropped us off in Somerled square, where we only had to wait around half an hour for the 57C bus to Duntulm. The bus stop is about 1km before the car park where most people start the walk, but the bus driver kindly dropped us off at the car park anyway. It was an easy walk from there to the Lookout Bothy at Rubha Hunish, where we spent the night. We were incredibly lucky with the weather on this day and had amazing views of Harris and back across Skye. There’s a rainwater butt outside the bothy which is very handy as there’s not much other water nearby.

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Harris as seen from the Lookout


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We got so lucky with the weather this day


Day 1: Rubha Hunish to The Quiraing (ish)
The walk along the coast was easy enough to begin with, but either there isn’t much of a recognisable path or we failed to find it. After a while though the ground got very boggy, making for slow, frustrating and damp progress.

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Coastal views


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There were some brave sheep right on the edge around here


It’s a fairly short section, so we made it to Flodigarry in good time and pushed on up the hill past the lovely little lochs to take some ks of the long ridge day looming ahead. We set up camp in the Quiraing area with a fantastic view. There was enough water running off the mountainside to cook with and drink, but I’m not sure if this would always be there. There’s a decent sized stream by the Quiraing Car Park though.

Day 2: The Quiraing (ish) to Somewhere on the Ridge
This was definitely the toughest day of the trip and we regretted not pushing ourselves a bit further on day 1. The path is easy enough to follow, but it was a very long day with a lot of climbing, horizontal rain and strong winds making my bag straps slap me across the face. The views were incredible but often mainly served to give a few minutes warning of the approaching rainclouds.

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The Ridge


A very fit and prepared walker could probably walk the whole Trotternish Ridge section in a day if they really want to, but if you’re wild camping it seems silly not to break it up into chunks by adding a bit onto the days either side. There wasn’t much water up on the ridge except for a few muddy dribbles and stagnant ponds that I wouldn’t touch without very good purification, so if you see any decent water up there it’s worth filling a bottle or two. We eventually set up camp around three quarters of the way though the ridge as it was beginning to get dark. We probably didn’t choose the best camping spot in hindsight as it was absurdly windy, but we got the tents up and slept alright.

Day 3: Somewhere on the Ridge to Portree
We weren’t too upset to see the back of the ridge but it still took most of the morning to make it to Old Man of Storr, where our big backpacks and walking poles got us heavily judged by all the daytrippers. The views over the island were once again incredible, and whilst it was a bit cold and wet and windy up top, we were probably pretty lucky with the weather and visibility overall.

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Old Man of Storr


Once back at almost sea level, the next section towards Portree was a welcome change. It was fairly easy-going with views of Storr in one direction and of Raasay in the other, although the path wasn’t always that easy to find. There still wasn’t much water for the first couple of hours after Storr, so it’s probably easiest to carry a bit with you if you can. There was a climb that felt like an absolute breeze after what we’d just done, then we climbed down and set up camp by a stream a few ks outside Portree.

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The Storr


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View from our campsite


Day 4: Portree to Sligachan
After an easy morning walk along the coastal path we reloaded on food at the Portree Co-op; this was the only place to get food on the walk, so all of our food supplies were planned around it (there’s actually a shop in Elgol and a Tea Room in Torrin, but both of these were closed. There was a very small shop called Mrs Mack’s Farm Shop just off the trail in Torrin selling snacks, drinks and ice-cream. I wouldn’t want to be dependent on any of these for food, but they could be a nice bonus.). There’s also a public toilet in Portree if you fancy giving your trowel arm a rest. Most of the journey from Portree to Sligachan was fairly easy roadwalking – useful to help us catch up the pace a little but not the most exciting. If you’re really pushed for time you could probably cheat and get a bus instead without missing too much, although the final section along Loch Sligachan was impressive to look at.

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Loch Sligachan


We set up camp on some flat ground near a river and the sea about 1km before Sligachan, which had the worst swarm of midges I’ve ever encountered. This was the only time that they were really bad on this trip though.

Day 5: Sligachan to Elgol
We finally caught up with the advertised schedule and headed through Sligachan and off towards today’s goal of Elgol. For the most part this was easy enough, with a well-marked track through the impressive valley and plenty of places to reload on water. The bothy at Camasunary looked very nice, spacious and modern with room for loads of people, but we reached it too early in the day to spend the night there.

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The bothy at Camasunary


The final section of the day towards Elgol is fun but slow and sometimes scary – it follows a path on the cliffs, sometimes with ominous drops on one side and sharp plants scraping half your skin off on the other. It’s picturesque and not particularly technically challenging and we made it to Elgol in good time. There’s a public toilet here, although from my experience it only scored marginally higher than the trowel and bush method. We set up camp on a flat bit of ground just outside the town, right by a river.

Day 6: Elgol to Torrin
As I write this report I realise that I have very few memories and no photos from day 6. This might mean that it wasn’t the most exciting day, or maybe I was just too exhausted to reach for my camera by this point. Anyway, this day was mostly straightforward footpath walking with coastal views, with a chunk of road walking either side of Torrin, where we made a vital Irn Bru pitstop at Mrs Mack’s. We planned on setting up camp at this point, but we had to walk for about an hour or so past Torrin to find somewhere decent, which was unusual for this trip. This evening the rain that we’d avoided for the past few days hit hard, which made for a fun combination with the coastal wind.

Day 7: Torrin to Broadford
The final day! My legs were definitely feeling it at this point. This one started easy enough with a pleasant coastal stroll featuring a beach or two. Then as we headed back inland the rain and wind hit hard and made the final trudge a bit less pleasant than we’d have liked and kept my camera firmly in its dry bag. The path is easy enough to find and follow and it’s a fairly straightforward jaunt into Broadford, but with us having been spoilt for the weather earlier it also didn’t offer the best views of the island. Still, we made it into Broadford in good time and moderate to fair spirits. We stocked up on beer, water and snacks from the Co-op, hit up the chippie and then headed into the woods just North-West of the town to camp for the final night, before getting the Citylink bus back home in the morning.

Summary

Overall, this hike was great fun and I’d thoroughly recommend it. It’s probably wise to have some knowledge and understanding of hiking in Scotland, but for the semi-casual hiker graduating from the West Highland Way it’s probably a decent option. That said, I did it in August with decent weather and I imagine things can get pretty hairy up on the ridge if you’re not prepared for them, especially at colder times of the year.

Water was mostly easy to come across and on most days I didn’t carry it with me, except where I’ve said otherwise.

It was almost always easy to find somewhere good to camp – much easier than on the other hikes I’ve done in Scotland.

If you don’t have time to do the full 7 days, I’d recommend the first half over the second half.

The paths were generally easy to find with a map, but there were no route markers anywhere, so be ready for this.

Phone service was surprisingly good, I’d say I had some kind of signal about 80% of the time.

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There's too many nice views to fit them all into the report
Tom_DM
 
Posts: 1
Munros:18   Corbetts:1
Joined: Oct 28, 2020

4 people think this report is great.
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