Caisteal Uisdean (Hugh's Castle)

Caiseal Uisdean, or Hugh's Castle, is one of the less famous castles of Skye. Its history is interesting though, and it makes a good destination for a pleasant coastal walk of under 3km return. Much of the route has been made into a vehicle track, so navigation is easy. By the point where you have to leave the track, the destination is in sight.

The castle is at NG380582, on the shore of Loch Snizort, between Portree and Uig. It is an impressive and very heavy construction from early in the seventeenth century. One peculiarity is that it has no door, with access having been by ladder to the upper floor. It is possible to get inside by squeezing through a window, so long as you have not dined overly well in Skye’s restaurants.

There is a great story to go with the castle too. Apparently Hugh (Uisdean MacGillespig Chleirich), who built it, was plotting to become chief of the clan in place of his uncle, Donald Gorm Mor. He planned to invite Donald Gorm to the castle and arrange for his assassination while he was there. Sadly for Hugh, his letter to the assassin and the invitation to dinner were each sent to the wrong person, thus giving Donald Gorm all the details of the plot. He was less than impressed.

Hugh was "invited" to Duntulm Castle where he was force-fed salt beef and salt fish, allowed nothing to drink, and then walled up in a dungeon to die an agonising death. Not nice!

Caisteal Uisdean walls

The walk begins at Cuidrach. Head south on the track that leaves the public road at NG379595. As the route nears the castle you will see the polytunnels of The Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company tucked in by the shore of the loch. From there you can simply follow the field boundary along the shore to reach the castle.

Isle of Skye Sea Salt

There is another point of interest on this walk. Look out for the small tidal island of Dun Maraig in the bay near the starting point. It has the vague remains of a fort on it. Once it was connected to the shore by a causeway, and it is still possible to walk across to it at very low tide.
Perhaps more interestingly, the small island was won as the star prize in a 1994 German TV game show by a Stefan Schluznus of Bremen. A pretty useless, but fun, sort of prize.

Dun Maraig