Caisteal Maol, Kyleakin, Skye

Caisteal Maol is a prominent ruin, sitting on a small hill just east of Kyleakin. This walk is short and straightforward, though you will cross a beach which is best avoided at high tide, and the last section up to the ruin is on steep grass. Its name, which translates as 'bare castle', was given to it after it became a ruin. Formerly it was Dunakin - the castle of Haakon.

King Haakon was a Norwegian (Viking) ruler who sailed through the narrows here on his way to defeat at the Battle of Largs in 1263. The castle was last occupied around 1600.

Start from NG752263, near the main car parks in Kyleakin. Take the road, next to the SYHA hostel, that is signed to South Obbe. This road leads across the river bridge, and then turns left along the south side of An t-Ob. The road ends close to a small pier, at a turning circle where you will find the start of the footpath to the castle. The path is marked by a plaque set into the ground.

The castle is a magnificent viewpoint. It is easy to understand why it was built here in this commanding position above the Kyle of Lochalsh. It is said that ships passing through the Kyle once had to pay a toll to Saucy Mary, a Norwegian princess who lived in the castle. Only when the toll was paid would she allow them through by lowering a huge chain strung between Skye and the mainland. Today the view is much changed by the addition of the Skye Bridge. I know some see it as an ugly manifestation of unwelcome progress. It may be less romantic than the old ferry crossing, but I rather like it.

Kyleakin from Caisteal Maol

It is possible, and rewarding, to walk further along the coast to the beautiful Rubha Ard Treisnis and thence to Loch na Beiste, but it is rough and boggy going beyond the castle.