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Written by
Ewan
Ewan

Adventure of the Week: Long Walk on the Isle of Skye

Scotland's islands can be a harsh environment to live in. When the sun shines, they are positively tropical in appearance, (infamously the Thai tourist board used a picture of one of the Hebridean islands in its tourist brochure) but this is where the similarity ends. When the wind blows and the rain comes in, they can be and incredibly abrasive environment to live in, but this extreme weather carves out the most amazing structures and paints them a vivid and welcoming green. The Queen of this extreme way of living is undoubtedly the Isle of Skye. [caption id="attachment_24392" align="aligncenter" width="900"]rainbow across the isle of skye Rainbows are a common sight on Skye, because of the....eh, 'occasional' rain shower[/caption]

In a nutshell

A Long Walk on the Isle of Skye takes you through the most beautiful, quiet areas on the island, while still touching on many of the most popular points. As is the way of the island, you will go from extremes of seeing nobody all day, to arriving in bustling towns and being surrounded by people. The walk leads you through classic Scottish scenery, over some tough terrain, but into areas that will be forever etched in your memory. Distance: The route takes you 73 miles, from Ardvassar in the south all the way up to Flodigarry in the North. Grade: Strenuous. Yes, it is a tough trip, by my goodness is it worth it.  Unfortunately, as with many things, the more spectacular rewards need a little effort.  However it is not an exhausting slog over unforgiving terrain, much of its strenuous nature lies in the navigation of the trip.  This is a path of our own creation and while we have great route notes etc, having some navigational know-how is a highly recommended. [caption id="attachment_24390" align="aligncenter" width="900"]bridge spans from Skye to the mainland The Skye Bridge joins the island to the mainland[/caption]

Where?

The Isle of Skye sits on the west coast of Scotland, reaching out from the mainland towards the Western Isles. Connected to the mainland by a previously controversial bridge, the island is more open to tourism than ever before, however as you will see in the travel section below, we still suggest the old method of getting to the island.

Why Walk Here?

Skye is outstanding in just about every way. I have been on days where the rain and wind combo feels like it is peeling the skin from your face and yet never felt so alive and invigorated by my surroundings. I have been there when the sun is out and cycled up and down the same road, just to see the massive difference in the stunning views. The scenery is at points alien and foreboding and at others serene and beautiful and on this walk, you get to experience it all. While Skye has so many natural tourist attractions, this route takes you right off the beaten track and into the very heart of what makes this island so beautiful. The first day takes you through gentle, rolling hills and wide open views and from there you are taken towards the rugged coast before delving into the Cuillin, the dark heart of Skye. When you are standing in Elgol at the start of day 3, you could be at the very ends of the earth.  In low season, you could be alone here, staring out over the remote sea, waiting for a boat trip that will change your life. The boat ride up Loch Coruisk will be one of the best things you ever do, that is, until you spend the rest of the day walking through the foothills of the Cuillins ending in the Sligachan hotel, which then becomes the best thing you have ever done.  Definitely one of the best days walking I have ever had. (and it was pretty poor weather too!) [caption id="attachment_26132" align="alignnone" width="900"] The Black Cuillin looms over Skye[/caption] The man-made parts of the island are also pretty special. The Sligachan Hotel is iconic and famous in Scottish climbing and hillwalking circles. It is one of those places (like the Kingshouse in Glencoe) where lovers of the great outdoors congregate and bring an evening to life with chat of their day's adventures. You may be tired when you arrive and then find yourself going to bed a lot later than you anticipated! Broadford is a lovely little town to get you acclimatised to island life and Portree is simply wonderful. Its colourful little pier is the perfect place for a few drams after a day on the trail. [caption id="attachment_24391" align="aligncenter" width="900"]colourful buildings line the harbour in portree, skye Portree, the capital of Skye[/caption] The end of the walk takes you up onto the Trotternish peninsula and it is here that typifies Skye's otherworldliness. The Old Man of Storr, a single finger of rock pointing towards the heavens leads you on through a patchwork of deep greens to the Quiraing, an area of walking so deeply inspiring that it almost defies explanation. Wind and rain have carved this part of the world with the eye of an artist. Paths meander through curious shapes and explosions of rock and with views on a clear day over to the Western Isles, it is no wonder this area is gaining in notoriety. [caption id="attachment_24389" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Jagged peaks and rich green of the trotternish ridge skye The otherworldly Trotternish Ridge[/caption]

Planning and preparation

Skye is accessible from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness by bus, but our recommendation would be to take the train from Glasgow to Mallaig (an outstanding trip in its own right! Corrour is middle of nowhere, wow making beauty) and then take the ferry over to Armadale where you will spend your first night. There is also the option of taking the Jacobean Railway from Fort William to Mallaig, which is nothing more than the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter films. Even without this additional branding, the trip is truly magical and makes for a spectacular start to a week of walking excellence. If you want to find out more about the Walking on Skye, contact info@macsadventure.com for further information.
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