This walk to the tidal island of Oronsay is a great favourite of mine for a short outing with long views. Navigation is simple, it is only about 5km for the return trip and it is mostly easy underfoot. The path can be boggy in places after rain, and it climbs to the top of 70m cliffs at the southern end of the island. But it's all pretty easy really, and very well worth a visit.

Oronsay Summit

'Oronsay' is from the Norse for a tidal island. It is a common name in the north-west of Scotland. In fact there are two Oronsays on Skye alone. This one is situated just off the end of Ullinish Point at NG318364. There is a parking area at the end of the public road (NG322373) and a clear path runs from there along Ullinish Point to the causeway.


This is the section of the walk that can be wet and boggy after heavy rain, but it is always passable with sensible footwear.

You can go over the causeway without getting you feet wet provided that the tide is less than 3.6m above chart datum. That usually gives you several hours either side of low tide. Check the tide times before setting off.

The causeway to Oronsay

On the causeway, you can see an ancient fish trap built of rocks on the left hand side towards the Oronsay end. Take a look in it to see if anything interesting was caught there on the last tide. There are also three small sandy beaches that are good for a paddle on these hot Skye summer days!

Once over the causeway, the island offers a circular route. I prefer to take it anti-clockwise, following an obvious path along the right edge of the grass above the beach. The path stays fairly close to the cliff edge on the ascent and delivers you to the highest point without too much effort. Take care of children, and yourself, here. The edge is right in front of you at the summit. The views from here are excellent, and the short, springy turf makes an ideal picnic spot on a clear and dry day.

Oronsay beach

Continuing the circuit, follow the cliff edge out to the furthest point. There are two sea stacks below you that are worth a look from here. Returning to the causeway along the top of the much lower cliffs on the south-east side, you will be walking above some interesting shoreline. Those who are prepared to scramble down the cliff at NG314359 (your own risk...) can find the amazing arch and cave shown below. On the left is a deep cave, on the right an arch that is so long it is really a tunnel. A couple of hundred metres further along is a deep ravine that spectacularly funnels the waves of a heavy sea.


Cave and arch on Oronsay

There's so much to see out there - but don't forget to watch time and tide for your return to Ullinish.