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My personal one week adventure on the Skye Trail

My personal one week adventure on the Skye Trail


Postby rmuetz » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:52 pm

Route description: Skye Trail

Date walked: 22/05/2017

Time taken: 7 days

Distance: 130 km

Ascent: 4300m

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I fell in love with the Isle of Skye in 2009. I came back in 2012 and 2014. My wife and me explored the island and made all kind of walks, especially the popular walks like „Quiraing“, „The Old Man of Storr“ or „Fairy Pools“. Even the walk from Elgol to Loch Coruisk via the „Bad Step“ and back by boat we did before. Two years ago I dreamt of making a long distance walk on Skye, which will link the places I visited before.

Stage 2 Old Man of Storr.jpg
Old Man of Storr (Stage 2)


Finally my plans became concrete in January 2017 and with the help of the great guide book of Helen and Paul Webster I decided to walk on my own. I admire walkers, who do camping in the wilderness, but I prefer having a bed and a shower in the evening and a Scottish Breakfast in the morning! So I booked B&B`s in Flodigarry, Portree, Glasnakille and Broadford as well as one night in legendary Sligachan Hotel.

The question of transport became clear to me after comparing times and costs. I decided to take a rental car from Edinburgh airport, not only for being more flexible, but also for having a car on site for my trip to the Orkneys after finishing the Skye Trail.

Arrival on Skye

After a night in Dunkeld/Perthshire I travelled via Inverness to Skye. On the way to Skye I had the chance for several stops at famous places like the Urquhart Castle at Loch Ness or the Eilean Donan Castle. Arriving on the Isle of Skye, I made a short break at the Old Sligachan Bridge, wondering, if I will manage walking all the way from the northernmost point of Skye to Sligachan and further on. After the break I drove on to Portree and bought some foodstuff to pack my rucksack for the next days. Arriving at Flodigarry I experienced a warm welcome in a lovely B&B.


Day 1 Rubbha Hunish – Quiraing

Rubbha Hunish.jpg
Nearby Rubbha Hunish (Stage 1)


After a great breakfast Mrs MacPherson, the owner of the B&B offered me a lift to the starting point of the Skye Trail nearby Rubbha Hunish. I accepted with a thankful smile and packed my rucksack only for the day, being aware of spending another night in the B&B at Flodigarry, providing that I will manage getting back here somehow! Mrs Mac Pherson dropped me off close to the red telephone box, the starting point of my one week adventure! The weather was fine, a little bit windy, but sunny. The first steps on my way I felt a mixture of excitement and joy. The coastline at the northernmost point of Skye, the landscape around as well as the Highland Cattle and sheep lying on the path of the trail effected a full Highlands feeling to me!

Because I decided before to cut the distance of the very long stage of the Trotternish Ridge the other day and add it to the first stage, my destination was the parking site at the Staffin to Uig road nearby the Quiraing. For that reason I also decided not to descent to the Hunish Headland to have enough time in the afternoon to manage getting back to my B&B.

My way passed the Lookout, one of the legendary Bothies all-round Scotland and further on along the coastline. As the way supposed to turn right, away from the coastline, it was a little bit tricky to find it. That was the first time, I got an impression of walking an unofficial trail with no signs and not even a path for some of the way. Finally I managed to reach the ruins of St Moluag`s Church. Although there is no path along the cliffs, the further way was easy, a little bit up and down. The very good weather conditions also helped me to arrive at Flodigarry after only 4 hours.

Clifftops.jpg
Heading along clifftops (Stage 1)


In Flodigarry I made a short break on a bench at the hostel. I didn`t feel hungry yet – because of the great Scottish breakfast I had this morning, so I continued my way up to the Quiraing. I paticularly love this part of Skye, for me it is one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world! I had been to the Quiraing three times before, but it was the first time, I walked the whole distance. I finally got hungry, so I made a lunch break on the banks of the small picturesque Loch Langaig. Unfortunately it began to rain, so I soon continued my way up to the Quiraing. In spite of the rain showers I enjoyed my walk through the mystic rock formations and I recognized, that the landscape of the Quiraing never looks the same, depending on the weather conditions and the time of the year. After 2 hours from Flodigarry I arrived at the car park at the Staffin to Uig road.

The Quiraing.jpg
Rain over the Quiraing (Stage 2)


Because the Quiraing is a very popular place for tourists, there are always people around. As the rain was getting stronger, I asked some people, who got in their cars, if I could get a lift. After only a few minutes I sat inside the car of a young couple from Sweden. They were driving to Portree, so I asked them to drop me off at Staffin. There I spent about 3 hours in the Café of Columba 1400, running by a charity Organization who supports young people. I was happy to manage the first stage of the Skye Trail and the Quiraing in addition without any problems and within only 6 hours. I even regretted not to explore the Rubbha Hunish Headland. But I enjoyed the dry, warm and cosy place having tea and Scones. After dinner I left the Café in time for getting the bus back to Flodigarry.

Day 2 The Storr – Portree

The weather conditions with heavy fog nudged me to change stages 2 and 3 of the Skye Trail. In retrospect it was the best decision I could make on my whole route. After breakfast I packed my rucksack, this time for two days, said goodbye to Mrs MacPherson, left Flodigarry by car and parked at the Storr car park half an hour later. I looked up to the mountains, which were covered in dense fog.

Solitude.jpg
Solitude in wide landscape (Stage 3)


I felt relieved, that I have chosen an easier stage from the Storr car park to Portree, just along the cliffs, today. But on that day it was challenging too! During the first two hours it was more or less easy to navigate. Close to the coast it was misty and there was some drizzle rain, but as long I was able to see the coast, I won`t get lost. I wondered about walking in a landscape of absolute solitude, although Portree is only a few miles away! On that day, I didn`t meet any other walkers. I had a strange but also peaceful feeling of privateness. The higher I walked up the hills, the more the mist turned into dense fog. At the steep slope of one of the cliff tops, sheltered from the wind, I had my lunch break. I hardly wasn`t able to see the coastline.

Lost in the fog.jpg
Fog made it difficult to navigate (Stage 3)


After half an hour I continued my way up the cliff and further on walked slightly landwards into the fog. After less than 15 minutes I lost my orientation. There was no path anymore, which was so far visible for some of the way and the coastline was out of sight, too. I know, that I have to go southwards, so I only had to watch having the wind on the right. After another 5 minutes I noticed, that the wind was coming from the left side. In that moment I knew, that I need a more precise navigation method. I fetched my 40 years old compass and used it for the very first time! I walked straight into the direction of south south east and after approximately another 15 minutes I reached a steep V-shaped valley, which I went downhill for 5 minutes, reaching a clear path meandering down to the coast. I was very happy, that I finally found my way and I recognized the importance of a good equipment, including a compass.

Schnucki in Kilt.jpg
Schnucki in Kilt - my mascot for the Skye Trail (Stage 3)


It was funny, as I walked down, the first „proof of civilisation“ was a cruise ship, which lay at anchor in the bay! The rest of the way was just a promenade along the coast to Portree. This stage took me 6 hours. I straight went into my favorite Cafe in Portree, the Cafe Arriba at the harbour. After some refreshments and a delicious meal I walked on to my previously booked B&B in Portree.



Day 3 Quiraing – The Storr (Trotternish Ridge)

As I looked out of the window that morning, I saw a fragment of blue sky. After a great and rich breakfast at Gleann an Ronnaich B&B I walked to the bus station in Portree to get the bus in the direction of Staffin. I asked the bus driver dropping me off at the junction of the Staffin to Uig road. After only a few minutes, a car stopped and I hitchhiked the road up to the car park of the Quiraing. From there I started my long walk over the Trotternish Ridge at 9.30 a.m.

The weather compared to the day before was great, still cloudy, but dry and no mist around. So I took the first ascent to Bioda Buidhe motivated and quite fast. There were some other walkers a few hundreds of metres in front of me and throughout the day I met a dozen other persons, mostly walkers but also some runners! I looked forward to walking all the way to the Storr. After a steep descent the long and steady climb of Beinn Edra began. The summit of „only“ 611 m is a great viewpoint and from there I had a perfect overview of the Trotternish Ridge as well as a view to the sea and to the neighbour Island of Raasay. Later at home while viewing the fotos I made with my Smartphone and compiling a small album of my trip, I titled this stage of the Skye Trail „Walking like in heaven“.

Trotternish Ridge.jpg
Walking like in heaven - The Trotternish Ridge (Stage 2)


After 2 more hours of walking on the ridge I decided to make a lunch break nearby a long old stone wall. Because it was sunny and warm, I laid down a while, before I continued my walk at around 3 O` Clock in the afternoon. After the break more steep descents and ascents challenged me and I drank a lot of water, because the up and downs as well as the warm temperature made me sweating. The walk uphill of the steep flank of the Storr seemed to be interminable. Finally I reached the summit of „The Storr“ with an height of 719 m at 6 p.m. I had been here in 2009, just climbed from the car park to the Storr, so I knew the way down or I supposed to know it. Of course I was looking forward to seeing the famous „Old Man of Storr“ again. Just before reaching the view point for the Old Man of Storr, the path was a little bit tricky, crossing very steep slopes. Then right at the view point I ran out of water. For the Trotternish Ridge I carried a bladder of water with 2 ½ litres and indeed my body lacked this amount of water! Never mind, I had another hour to go down to the main road, so I enjoyed the view of the Old Man of Storr for a while, which already lay in the shadow of the Storr.

The Storr.jpg
View from the Storr (Stage 2)


After nearly 10 hours I arrived at my car, which I parked there the day before in the morning. Fortunately I had some water bottles inside, so I immediately quenched my thirst. 20 minutes later I parked in front of the B&B in Portree. After a long shower I ate the rest of my lunch and afterwards I only wanted relaxing and lying on the bed.

Day 4 Portree – Sligachan

After another great Full Scottish Breakfast I packed my rucksack for 3 days and drove straight to Broadford. I parked my car there on a public car park, bought some foodstuff for the next days and walked to the bus station. Because I had still some time, I sat down on a bench in front of the Café Sia. I suppose, the temperature already was at 25 C, so I had a cool drink. I guess, that this day was the warmest day I ever experienced in Scotland. Later on my way I even saw sheep lying in the shade!

The bus carried me back to Portree, where I took up my walk. Although this stage of the Skye Trail is probably one of the more easier ones, the first part of the stage, just walking slightly up and down the road of the Braes, was exhausting to me. The bench at the memorial to the Battle of the Braes was a welcoming spot for my lunch break today. From there you can overlook the coastline and the ferry crossing to the Isle of Raasay. After the break, thank goodness, the monotonous walking on the road had an end, as I turned into the path along Loch Sligachan.

Loch Sligachan.jpg
Walk along Loch Sligachan (Stage 4)


I liked this part of the trail very much. I walked there without meeting someone else. Because of the dry and warm weather the river crossings weren`t a problem at all. I even refreshed myself with cool water at one of the waterfalls. The fresh water tasted delicious. When approaching Sligachan campsite it was a little bit tricky to find the way through the salt flats and moorland. 30 minutes later I sat on a bench outside Seumas`Bar at Hotel Sligachan, holding a pint of cool beer in my hands! I enjoyed it very much to stay in the history charged hotel, looking around the several public rooms like the Collie´s Lounge or sitting in Mackenzies Bar.

Day 5 Sligachan – Glasnakille (via Loch Coruisk)

I looked forward to walking this stage of the Skye Trail, because I walked sections of it before (but never the whole distance). The weather was still fine, cloudy but bright. The weather forecast said rain in the afternoon, so I delayed my decision, if adding the detour via Loch Coruisk. The walk over the Old Sligachan Bridge and the further path of the Glen Sligachan between the Red and Black Cuillins offered great views. The crossing of the burns also here in Glen Sligachan was no problem.

Glen Sligachan.jpg
Beautiful Glen Sligachan (Stage 5)


The weather stayed cloudy but dry, so I took the right folk up towards a low mountain saddle, where the path then leads down to Loch Coruisk. On the top of the saddle, I paused at the big cairn with the first view of the great Loch Coruisk. Walking down the path was strenuous to me, because of countless big stones and high steps. Finally I reached Loch Coruisk, where I had been twice before. I had my lunch at the banks and enjoyed the calm place for a while. Only few people were walking around, who probably came via boat from Elgol.

Loch Coruisk.jpg
Well worth a detour - Loch Coruisk (Stage 5)


I didn`t want to stay for long, because I knew, that`s still a long distance to go. I felt a touch of excitement while thinking of the Bad Step. I climbed it 3 years before, when I made a walk from Elgol to Loch Coruisk together with my wife and family. We had wet conditions that day and although it was quite challenging for us, especially because of the slippery rocks, we managed to pass it. The walk along the coastline here is really special and outstanding – a place where, in my opinion, you could feel the wilderness of Skye intensely at the foot of mountains with the coast and Lochs around. In my view the walk there is not risky as long as you are well prepared and walk very carefully.

While climbing down the Bad Step, it began to rain. Later on I reached the Bay at Camasunary. In 2014 after heavy rain at night I experienced, how wet your walking boots could get, while crossing the river at the west end of the bay. So this time I brought light bathing shoes. But I didn`t need to take off my walking boots. The stepping stones sticked clearly out of the water. At the New Camasunary Bothy I made a short break. There I learnt more about the idea behind the Scottish Bothies and that they are maintained by volunteers. I thanked for this in the Bothy Book.

Walk to Elgol.jpg
Coastline between Loch Corusik and Elgol (Stage 5)


Because I ran out of water the second time, I filled up my water bladder with fresh water from a nearby burn. The light, but steady rain continued and I walked on to Elgol and further on another 2 miles to Glasnakille. On my way several runners passed me. After 10 hours I finally arrived at Rowan Cottage, a lovely and cosy B&B in Glasnakille. Loch Coruisk was well worth the detour, but it made a strenuous day. So I enjoyed a hot shower and a delicious dinner, which I booked in advance.

Day 6 Glasnakille – Torrin

I took my time for breakfast and for talking with Christine, the owner of the B&B. After the strenuous stage the day before I enjoyed taking it slowly. Indeed it was an easy walk today. The weather was cloudy, but no rain and in the afternoon it even became sunny.

View Loch Slapin and Sleat.jpg
View of Loch Slapin and Sleat (Stage 6)


I walked along picturesque Loch Slapin with views to Sleat and I had some sightseeing at Dun Ringill, a ruin of a castle at the shore. After only 5 hours I arrived in Torrin, where I sat down outside the Blue Shed Café. There I met Alex again, also a German guy, who walked the Skye Trail. I met him before at breakfast in Sligachan. We enjoyed it, sitting in the sun and drinking coffee. When I planned my trip I wasn`t lucky to get a room in a B&B in Torrin, so I booked a room in a B&B in Broadford for the last two days of the trail. It was not a problem to hitchhike from Torrin to Broadford.

Day 7 Torrin - Broadford

After breakfast Angie, the owner of the B&B, offered me a lift back to Torrin. Most of the way of the last stage I walked before, but the opposite direction. It`s an easy and beautiful walk along the coastline. While looking back you can view the panorama of the great Cuillin Ridge.

Cuillin Ridge.jpg
Nearby Torrin with view of the Cuillin Ridge (Stage 7)


Further on you can explore the remains of Suinish and Borveraig, former settlements, which were forcibly emptied of its inhabitants as part of the Highland Clearances. Close to Borveraig I watched the small waterfall and because of the midges there I quickly continued my walk up away from the coast.

As the Beinn na Caillich came in sight, I sat down on a small rock and made my lunch break. I like that view very much and although there are countless beautiful and spectacular views along the Skye Trail, I particularly have the view of Beinn na Caillich in mind, when thinking back. Again I was lucky with the weather with only some light showers today. The very last section of the Skye Trail follows the so-called Marble Line, the route of a former railway line that ran between some marble quarries and Broadford.

Beinn na Caillich.jpg
Panorama of Beinn na Caillich close to Broadford (Stage 7)


Conclusion

After 7 days, 130 km and more or less 4.300 metres of ascent I finally reached Broadford in the afternoon. My personal adventure came to an end. I enjoyed just staying in the cosy B&B, having a bath and relaxing. In the evening I met Alex again in the Café Sia. While eating the delicious wood oven pizza and drinking beer from the Skye brewery we exchanged our experiences of walking the Skye Trail. Of course we finished the day with a glass of Talisker! Slàinte mhath!

My adventure.jpg
My personal adventure 2017


Text and fotos: Ralf Mützel, Neumarkt/Germany
rmuetz
Hill Bagger
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 7, 2018

Re: My personal one week adventure on the Skye Trail

Postby nick70 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:03 pm

Excellent report and pictures, I really enjoyed reading that.

My wife and I are thinking of visiting Skye this summer and will hopefully get to walk some parts of the trail, so reading your report has proved very helpful.

Glad you enjoyed our country and "haste ye back" :D
nick70
 

Re: My personal one week adventure on the Skye Trail

Postby Tusenbein » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:55 pm

Thanks for sharing!

I plan to do the Skye Trail as well. Is there any chance that you have the OS 1:25.000 maps but do not need them any longer? :) (for a few bobs of course)

Tusenbein
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Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 14, 2018

3 people think this report is great.
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