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A bit too popular: the Coral Beach on Skye

A bit too popular: the Coral Beach on Skye

Postby dbogosian » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:10 am

Route description: Coral Beaches, Claigan near Dunvegan

Date walked: 03/06/2018

Time taken: 2 hours

Distance: 4 km

Ascent: 30m

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Reaching the start of the Coral Beach walk requires a lengthy slog on a road which is barely deserving of that label: it looks like it hasn't been maintained since a squadron of Goering's JU-87s used it for target practice! After 4 miles of futile attempts to avoid the bomb craters, I reached the car park which was surprisingly capacious; nevertheless, it was full! Fortunately, one person was just leaving, and I managed to squeeze in. This was not quite at the height of the season, and I shudder to think what it would be like then. Apparently this beach is a not-very-well-kept secret among travelers.

The path is quite level and easy to follow, no maps needed. After a little while you start to see the white sand beach up ahead, behind a lovely curve of rocky beach. There are several island visible just offshore.
The rocky beach before the coral beach

As you get closer, the white sand gets more and more visible, as well as the prominent hill behind the beach (Cnoc Mor) which forms a dramatic backdrop as well as an excellent viewing platform.
The coral beach, in sight

The coral beach and the hilltop of Cnoc Mor

The beach itself is pretty cool. The sand is a bright pale colour that shimmers in the sunlight. Upon closer inspection, you find all manner of bits in there: fragments of shells, dark volcanic rocks, sea glass, but mostly it's this coral-like stuff called marl. It resembles nothing as much as Rice Krispies.
Close-up view of the "sand"

Upon climbing Cnoc Mor, the views open up a bit (but it's not very high). You have some great island vistas to the north, mainly Iosaigh and its satellites Mingay and Clett. Mingay looks like something they might have used when they were testing the early "flying machines" ca. 1900; that ramp looks purposefully built to carry a would-be aeronaut up, up, and away. Of course, in the event of an aborted launch, said aeronaut would end up in the water.
Sheer headland on Iosaigh

Islands to the north: L to R, Iosaigh, Mingay, Clett

Launching pad island (Mingay)

From the top of the hill, the view of the coral beach is quite lovely, and the water a pretty shade of aquamarine (on a nice sunny day, at least!). And if you're lucky, a yacht will sail across the channel to give your photos a delightful focal point.
Looking down onto the coral beach, from the hilltop

Sail ho!

It's worth mentioning that, on the drive back, there is a point maybe half a mile from Dunvegan Castle, where the views of the castle are splendid. Pull over, walk to the right towards the water, and soak it in, because the views of the Castle from the Castle grounds are decidedly disappointing. :(
Dunvegan Castle, brilliantly displayed

All told, a nice outing, but not one of Skye's best by any means. The crowds were disproportionately high considering the quality and interest of the scenery. There are far more conveniently accessed--and less crowded--ways of savoring Skye's dramatic shoreline and island vistas, such as this one:
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