Waternish Point Lighthouse

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.

You will be a fair way from civilization though, so do take it as a serious walk, particularly in rough weather. It can be very windy out there!

This is a great outing for watching wildlife. It's not at all unusual to see whales circling, feeding and blowing just off the end of the point. There are Corncrakes at Trumpan, Great Skuas (Bonxies) and many other sea birds. I've never seen a puffin here, but I'm told the ones that nest on the Ascrib Islands do appear ashore sometimes. There's always a good chance of seeing sea eagles at close quarters along the clifftops too.

Waternish Map

Your starting point is where the gated track leaves the public road at NG229616. If you are leaving a car, you should use the small car park at the nearby ruined church at Trumpan, about 500m to the southwest. Follow the track which takes a fairly direct route along the western side of the peninsula. Soon you will reach a substantial cairn that commemorates Roderick MacLeod of Unish, who died here in the Second Battle of Waternish in 1530. Just beyond the cairn, Dun Borrafiach broch is visible about 200m off the track to the right. It is simple enough to visit by following the line of one of the old turf walls that cross the rough ground towards it. The massive walls still reach a height of over 3m on the south side of the circle. Just over another kilometre passes before Dun Gearymore is reached, also on the right. The walk up to this one is very easy indeed, and is more rewarding than it might look from the track. There is actually quite a lot to explore in what seems from a distance to be just a pile of rubble.

This broch is certainly less complete than is Borrafiach, but a big passageway below the tumbled stonework makes an interesting diversion for those of us fascinated with such things. It is amazing to touch stones that were placed there carefully so very long ago.

Dun Borrafiach

At the end of the track, at NG239658, there is a much less ancient ruin, that of Unish House.  This was a big domestic building, probably the house of a tenant farmer. It dates from the early 1600s and is surrounded by various ruined steadings and outbuildings. There would have been a sizeable community here once. It's a nice spot, with great views, but so exposed that in bad weather the wind must have been a nightmare.

Having run out of track, you can now choose your own way to the point. I favour heading north from Unish, picking out the easiest line to walk over the rough ground, and then tending to the right to pick up the coast before reaching the lighthouse. Out there is some wonderful rocky shoreline and an interesting old jetty.

Coastline approaching Waternish Point

The lighthouse itself offers a good picnic spot. The big CalMac ferry between Uig and Lochmaddy passes very close to the point, so if you time it right you'll have people to exchange waves with while you eat! A good return route is to follow the cliffs and stacks of the west coast of the point almost the whole way back. The going is surprisingly good - in fact it is easier than the track when the ground is wet. When you reach the big inlet at Rubha Dubh (NG227621), follow the fence inland to regain the track and follow it back southwards to the starting point.