Sgurr a’Mhadaidh Ruaidh

This is a fine hike of around 11km to the best viewpoint on the Trotternish Ridge. Including two summits, and easy options of two more, it is an interesting and scenic outing, with little or nothing in the way of navigational challenge. The total climb involved is around 900m. Sgurr a’Mhadaidh Ruaidh (The Peak of the Red Fox) juts out east from the main line of the ridge, giving a clear view north towards Beinn Edra and the Quiraing, and south past Baca Ruadh to The Storr. At 593m, it offers commanding views to the Scottish mainland as well.


The route starts at Glenuachdarach (NG427586). At the end of the road, follow an agricultural track up the glen to meet the burn – the Lon Mhic Ibheir. Follow this burn upstream, passing some very attractive waterfalls on the way. Cross the metal bridge at NG436587, over the tributary Lon Coire Chaipilin. Just beyond the bridge is the ruin of an old chapel sitting between the two burns. Go through the pedestrian gate, and continue to follow the Lon Mhic Ibheir up into Coire Iomhair. The easiest going is to keep north of the burn at about 20m above it – but clinging to side of the water will be rewarded by a lovely sequence of waterfalls and rapids. Look out too for some good examples of hut circles and shielings at various points along the way.
View from Sgurr a’Mhadaidh Ruaidh
Cross the burn to reach another pedestrian gate at NG455588. Through the gate you find an ancient turf wall. After a few hundred metres the turf wall gives way to a good drystone wall that leads straight up to reach the Trotternish Ridge at Bealach Leacaich. The crags on the way can be easily avoided by diverting around them to the right.

The wall leading to Bealach Leacaich

Arriving at the bealach is one of those ‘wow!’ moments usually reserved for summits. The view eastwards opens suddenly and spectacularly over north-east Skye to the mountains of the mainland. Turn south now and follow the cliff edge, as closely as you feel comfortable, up and over the 609m summit of Creag a’Lain and down again into the next bealach. Along the way, the distinctive towering shape of Sgurr a’Mhadaidh Ruaidh (NG474584) looms closer. Personally, I wouldn’t go near this last section in anything other than clear and dry weather. There are just too many places to fall off. In sunshine, though, the route to the summit is obvious. Apart from a short section right at the end where it feels slightly exposed, this is easy hiking on slopes of short grass. The summit itself seems almost detached from the ridge, with sheer cliffs on three sides of you. A stunning perch and viewpoint.

Sgurr a’Mhadaidh Ruaidh from Creag a'Lain

If you have the time and the energy, it is easy to add in the peaks of Baca Ruadh  (to the south) and Flasvein (to the north) before returning. Although you might be tempted to make this walk into a round trip by descending into Coire Fuar and following the River Hinnisdal down to your starting point, the way is barred by forestry at the bottom. It is best to return the same way as you came.