Cuillin - Bealach a' Mhaim
Cuillin - Coire Lagan
The hike up from Glen Brittle beach to the lochan in Coire Lagan is easily the best way to get up close with the Cuillin, while keeping to a relatively easy and straightforward route. It is a round trip of about 7 km with a steady ascent of some 600 m (2,000 ft). The scenery surrounding you in the glacier-carved bowl of the coire is wonderful, with jagged peaks rising all about, steep scree runs falling from the Cuillin Ridge, and the most beautiful lochan nestling in the midst of it all.
Cuillin - Rubh' an Dunain
Northwest Skye - Ardtreck Point
Ardtreck Point offers an interesting walk of under 3 kilometres, taking in a fairly well preserved dun and some good views over Loch Bracadale. The going is a little rough in places, but with decent footwear there are no big challenges.
Beginning from near the end of the Ardtreck road at NG338354, follow the gated track that runs north past a couple of houses. The way is helpfully signed, and as the track reaches the high point, heading left across the field will take you to a pedestrian gate opening onto a patch of boggy moorland.
Northwest Skye - Beinn an Sguirr
This is one of my favourite short walks. In a circuit of around 7km, it mixes a section of forestry road, an optional moorland summit, and a breathtaking path along the top of some remarkable inland cliffs. Wildlife and huge views complete a great, low effort, experience. Be cautious though. The cliff edge is indistinct in parts and it would be a one way only trip to the bottom...
Beinn an Sguirr is not the proper hill that its name suggests. It is a long and impressive landslip escarpment, running above Oans Point in the south west of Loch Snizort. The walk begins at the road end in Gillen, at NG267594.
Northwest Skye - Dunvegan Head
This is a must-do walk on any visit to Skye. It is not busy, there are no paths, it requires care - but the return on effort is very high. The walk starts in Galtrigill village (NG181545). There is parking at the end of the road here, but take care to leave space for access and turning. Begin by heading up the track that goes west from the road end. It leads past some old buildings to a gate, after which it peters out. You can then easily contour round to reach and cross the Galtrigill Burn.
Northwest Skye - Healabhal Bheag
Northwest Skye - Healabhal Mhor
Healabhal Mhor (Macleod's Table North) is, despite its name (mhor=big), a little less tall than its 488m high neighbour, Healabhal Bheag (bheag=small). Its greater bulk earns it the name. Together, these are the two flat topped hills in the west of Skye known much more commonly as MacLeod's Tables. Everyone who has visited Skye must know them. They will also be likely to know at least one of the many legends that go with them. But why be satisfied by viewing them when there is so much to be gained by going to the top?
Northwest Skye - MacLeod's Maidens
Close to Idrigill Point, at the southern tip of the Duirinish peninsula, stand three very impressive sea stacks in an appropriately dramatic setting. These are the famous Macleod’s Maidens. The tallest stack – the mother – rises over 70m out of the sea. She is accompanied by her two daughters, standing just off the cliffs of Maidens’ Point (Rubha na Maighdeanan) at NG243362.
The 16km return hike to Macleod’s Maidens is one of Skye’s classic and popular trips. It is on an easy to follow path all the way until the final few hundred metres.
Northwest Skye - Tusdale
The cleared village at Tusdale is a fascinating and poignant destination for this walk of about 9km return from Eynort. The starting point is at the end of the public road at NG378264, where there is usually space to park without causing an obstruction. Walk from there along the gated track that is the continuation of the road - not the one that leads to the shore - respecting the privacy of the house that you pass on the way. After passing through another couple of gates, you find yourself on a rough track, which soon turns right through a gateway and peters out.
Northwest Skye - Waternish Point
The outing from Trumpan to the lighthouse on the tip of Waternish Point is a longish (14km) but straightforward hike in a totally unpopulated area of Skye. There are two fine duns (brochs) to explore on the way, some fine cliff scenery, and fantastic views across the mouth of Loch Dunvegan and over The Minch to the Outer Hebrides. Much of the route it on a well defined track, so navigation is pretty easy, and there are no steep or prolonged climbs to be tackled.
Portree - Bealach Cumhang
In Portree with an hour or two to spare for some exercise? There's no path here, but a good stretch of the legs with a rewarding view.
Get to NG496448 at the bend in the public road in Torvaig. From there, go through the gate and follow the farm track north and you will come to a memorial (marked on the OS 1:25,000 map) to the Nicolsons of Scorrybreac.
Portree - Ben Tianavaig
Ben Tianavaig is a distinctively shaped, almost pyramidal, hill to the south-east of Portree. It is a prominent sight from many parts of north Skye, but it is only when viewed from the north or the south that you notice most of the east side of the hill has collapsed. The same landslip activity that created the pinnacles of the Storr and the Quiraing has been at work here too, resulting in an ascent route that follows the edge of a wonderful escarpment above the Sound of Raasay.
Red Hills - Glas Bheinn Mhor
Glas Bheinn Mhor (564m) does not feature in any list of frequently climbed hills on Skye. I do recommend it though. It is an excellent ascent for anyone who wants to achieve a summit with big views, without the effort or risk involved in some of the higher peaks. The navigation is very easy, the walking surface is mostly short-cropped grass and, although the hill is very steep on two sides, it it not precipitous.
Sleat - Dalavil
This is a delightful hike of around 12km to Dalavil on the west coast of Sleat. The navigation is mostly straightforward and much of the route is on tracks or paths - but there are some sections that can be very boggy after rain. The route passes a beautiful, isolated loch, and some evocative settlements that have been deserted since the clearances of the nineteenth century. It takes you through Coille Dalavil, a mature mixed native woodland, before reaching the shore. From the coast, the views across the water to the Cuillin are magnificent. This is also a good walk for seeing wildlife of many kinds, including snakes, and otters that frequently play by the shore.
Sleat - Point of Sleat
This is a hike to the southernmost point of Skye. The route is around 8 Km in total, partly on a good vehicle track and partly on rough paths. There is an excellent beach on the way and, at the point itself, some wonderful rock formations, a lighthouse and great views to Eigg, Rum and the mainland.
Strath - Boreraig
Boreraig is one of the best, most intact, examples of a cleared village on Skye. It lies on the north shore of Loch Eishort and is reached either by boat or by a walk of some 6km across the moor from Strath Suardal. It is a straightforward walk, starting on the Marble Line Path and then over the moor on a fairly good track. This walk can be done as an extension of the marble line 'stroll'.
Strath - Camasunary (from Elgol)
This is one of Skye's outstanding walks in terms of views. The path along the east shore of Loch Scavaig gives probably the best of all vantage points to see the southern end of the main Cuillin range. As a bonus, Bla Bheinn, Marsco and Sgurr na Stri are also prominently in sight in the later part of the walk. To the left, and behind you, the islands of Soay, Canna, Eigg and Rum are all clear. And the destination - the beach at Camasunary - is a very worthwhile objective for the trip.
Trotternish - Beinn Edra
The hike to the summit of Beinn Edra from Glen Uig is the easiest way to experience some of the glory of the Trotternish Ridge. Navigation is mostly very easy and the ascent to the 611m summit is a gradual one. On a fine day, the views from the top - of the rest of the ridge, and of the Scottish mainland mountains - are exceptional. The starting point is Balnaknock, just past the Fairy Glen, at NG420627. If arriving here by car the best, though limited, parking is in the glen itself, a bit before the end of the road.
Trotternish - Eaglais Bhreugach
Eaglais Bhreugach, or The False Church, is a gigantic boulder about 13m high that sits on the east shore of Trotternish. It is holed right through by a cave in such a way that the origin of its name is pretty obvious. From inside or out, it does have a strong resemblance to a church. It is said that it has been used as a place of ceremony in times past, though the rites were not of a Christian variety. One story is of the roasting of live cats, an activity that summons an appearance from the devil. In this case it was apparently successful.
Trotternish - Rubha Hunish
This is an outstanding hike to the furthest north point of Skye. From the end of the point I have seen dolphins, whales and a basking shark, all at close range. The route is around 6 kilometres return, with fairly easy going for most of the way. A steep section down an inland cliff looks more daunting than it is, but it will test those with no head for heights. Begin from the small car park just off the main road between Duntulm and Kilmaluag, at NG422742. A path runs pretty much due north from here, keeping to the high ground.
Trotternish - Rubha nam Braithrean
The hike to Rubha nam Braithrean (Brathairean on the Ordnance Survey maps - Brothers' Point in English) is only about 1.5km each way from the road south of Staffin. It is a scenic walk, with an interesting destination and lots to explore on the way. You can even try your luck at finding the dinosaur tracks in the tidal area before you reach the point itself.
Nobody seems certain of the origin of the name, but it is most often said to have been a place where monks lived and worshiped in safety more than a thousand years ago.
Trotternish - Storr Lochs to Portree
This is a walk of about 12km, most of it on a good grassy walking surface. There are breathtaking views all the way. It follows the line of the escarpment above the shore on the east side of the Trotternish Peninsula, reaching a hight of 392m above the Sound of Raasay on the way. This is a quiet, unpopulated, road-free and seldom visited part of Skye, overshadowed (almost literally) by the famous Trotternish Ridge. It is, though, an excellent walk in its own right.
Trotternish - The Quiraing
The Quiraing is awesome. It is supernatural. It is a place of wonder and amazement. It is outstanding by any measure. If you are fit enough to walk the narrow path and scramble up and down the steep slopes – you must do it. To visit Skye without experiencing the Quiraing seems unthinkable.
Go on a bright and clear day for views of the Outer Hebrides and the Scottish mainland, framed by the pinnacles, cliffs and great buttresses. Go on a wet and windy day to feel your spine tingle as the clouds and mist swirl around you in this unreal and menacing landscape. Whatever the weather, you’ll not forget the experience.
The hike is under 5km return for the direct route, or about 7km if you make it a circuit and include the summit above the Quiraing itself. Either way, the starting point is from Bealach Ollasgairte at NG440679.
Trotternish - The Storr
The summit of the Storr is the highest point on the Trotternish Ridge at 719m. The walk from the car park at NG509529 up the well maintained path to the Old Man of Storr is one of the most popular on Skye - and understandably so. There are good views across Raasay and Rona to the Scottish Mainland on the way, and the rock formations around the Sanctuary, including the 50m high Old Man, are exceptional and not to be missed. But it is well worth the extra effort to climb to the summit of the hill, leaving the wearers of fashionable training shoes and high heels behind you as you carry on upwards.
I have read several descriptions of the route beyond the Sanctuary and have not found one that is unambiguous. Here is my attempt to give a clear guide to the easiest way to the summit.
Hiking on Skye
The hikes on The Skye Guide are categorised as 'strolls', 'moderate', or 'stretching'. You may find what I call a stroll to be a major expedition, or you may think that what I call stretching is nothing much at all. It depends on your fitness and experience.
The hills and cliffs on the island can be dangerous and the weather is fickle. There are places to fall off in these parts, and not all of them are at high altitude.
It's a good idea to read this.
Did you know?
Despite being home to Skye's biggest castle, the name 'Dunvegan' (Dun Bheagan) probably means 'small fort'.