In the last couple of years, the Scottish Isle of Skye has gone crazy. Everyone seems to want to visit, but this is no surprise. The island is rich in wonder, with geography and geology that goes from jaw-dropping to completely bizarre. The island sells out of accommodation pretty quickly now and the main tourist sites can be incredibly busy. However, we have been operating on Skye for 10 years and we know the place inside out. If you want to see Skye, avoid the crowds and still see some of the beautiful, hidden corners, then look no further than Across the Isle of Skye.
Across the Isle of Skye takes you from the ferry port in Ardvassar, up through the heart of the island, until you reach Portree, the bustling little capital of the island. The scenery is stunning and you will find perfect peace during the day and enough hustle and bustle at night to keep you thoroughly entertained and well fed.
Distance: The route is 55 miles over six days walking. This doesn’t sound much, but when you read the next section on grade, you will realise why the days are so short.
Grade: Moderate to 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 and you can use our fantastic new Macs App, having some navigational know-how is a highly recommended.
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.
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!)
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.
Across the Isle of Skye takes you to the Storr, to walk up to this otherworldly finger of rock, pointing at the sky. This is where, outside of the towns, you will start to see the crowds appear, but get up, go early and you will still be treated to a fantastic geological wonder and views that are guaranteed to make you smile.
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.