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. The route has been waymarked, so navigation is easy, but the ground can be soft in places. Wellies are ideal for this one.

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. Just as the track is coming to an end by the house with the red roof, go left up a rougher track. Almost immediately a white arrow on a rock directs you half right, down a short slope. The path from here is clear enough. Just follow the waymarks over a stile, along an ancient cart track and over a second stile, from where you will see the bulk of the castle looming ahead of you. Follow the field boundary along the shore to reach the castle.

Dun Maraig

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.