Sleat - Leitir Fura
Leitir Fura is an abandoned village in a magnificent setting above the Sound of Sleat. The views from the village, and indeed from much of the walk, are excellent. This is a well waymarked circular route of about 7km. The paths are good and clear, but can be muddy in places. The starting point is a car park, about a mile along a forestry road in Kinloch Forest at NG704161. It is signed from the A851, four miles south of Broadford, almost opposite the Drumfearn road end. At the car park you will find information boards with a map and details of the walk.
From the car park, you continue along the forestry road on foot, soon turning left onto an old drovers' road. It was along this track that cattle from south Skye were driven, to be swum across the narrows at Kylerhea to the markets on the mainland. In recent times this section of the drovers' road has been much improved, making for pleasant and easy progress. A great deal of the Sitka forest has been cleared too, and efforts are being made to restore the native woodland. This is leaving a much more natural look to the area and opening up the views over Loch na Dal and the Sound of Sleat to the mainland.
Bridge on the path to Leitir Fura
After a couple of miles, the path drops downhill to the remains of the village. Here is a great spot for a picnic among the ruins. You can see across to Loch Hourn, to Ben Sgritheall, to Sandaig Island - the setting of Gavin Maxwell's 'Ring of Bright Water' - to Isle Ornsay and all the way south to Mallaig. This village is not a victim of the notorious clearances. Those who lived here abandoned it voluntarily at the beginning of the nineteenth centuty, albeit their lives were not made easy by the landowner. The people here were woodsmen, eventually denied access to the very woods from which they made their living. The ruins look very natural, but some work has been done to expose them from the undergrowth, giving a good sense of how this place would have seemed when the twenty or so families were still in residence.
From the village, the path drops down further to reach the main forestry road, by which you return to the start point.
Along the way, look out for wooden posts that hold pieces of relevant Gaelic verse on hinged plaques. On the reverse side of each is an English translation. I particularly like this one:
but walled against their people’s
needs and wilful goats.
To tan a nation’s hides,
rich oak and birch were stripped
of bark and dignity.