• HIKING, BOTHIES & WILD CAMPING ON SKYE

    On an afternoon of bright light and deep shadow, a hiking couple stand on the rocky summit of Sgurr na Stri (one of the best hikes on Skye) overlooking the length of Loch Coruisk as it lies cradled amongst the sharp peaks of the Black Cuillin
  • HIKING, BOTHIES & WILD CAMPING ON SKYE

    On an afternoon of bright light and deep shadow, a hiking couple stand on the rocky summit of Sgurr na Stri (one of the best hikes on Skye) overlooking the length of Loch Coruisk as it lies cradled amongst the sharp peaks of the Black Cuillin

HIKING, BOTHY STAYS AND WILD CAMPING ON SKYE

(AN OUTDOOR LOVER’S GUIDE TO SKYE)

In this guide we outline various great hikes on the Isle of Skye, each with the opportunity for bothy stays and/or wild camping. We provide an overview of each hike, including approximate walking times, distance, and difficulty, plus info about car parking and access by public transport. We also offer an accompanying digital map (plus downloads for offline use) which details the hiking routes, possible wild camp spots, bothies, points of interest, and practical info such as water sources and services. Finally, we share some general Skye travel tips, including a list of grocery shops, public toilets and showers, and our recommended places to eat on the island.

This guide is based on our own wild camping road trip and is intended to be useful for anyone looking for great hikes on Skye, and for specific wild camp spots on Skye. Note that all of the suggested wild camp spots require a walk of at least 30 minutes from a car park or bus stop. If you would rather camp close to your car we have included a directory of paid campsites on Skye which may be more suitable for you. 

Use the drop down menu below to jump to each section of this guide

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SKYE HIKING AND WILD CAMPING FILM

Many of the hikes, bothies, and wild camp spots outlined in this guide feature in our ambient Skye film.

Watch the behind the scenes version of our wild camping Skye road trip on Instagram stories

Watch the behind the scenes
version
of our wild camping
Skye road trip
on Instagram
stories 

MAP OF HIKES, BOTHIES AND WILD CAMP SPOTS ON SKYE

SKYE HIKES, BOTHIES AND WILD CAMP SPOTS //

MAP AND DOWNLOAD

We have created a detailed Skye map to accompany this guide. It includes each of the hikes outlined within the guide and shows the walking track, closest car park, bus stop, key points along the route, and possible wild camp spots. Practical info including public toilets, grocery shops, paid campsites, and our top choices for food and drink on Skye are also included. Photos accompany most pins, along with any relevant links, stats, or information.

You can use the digital map online, or download it for offline use with a mapping app such as Organic Maps, Maps.me, or Gaia GPS. This is very helpful for navigation assistance on the trail. It allows you to quickly pinpoint places and calculate distances and elevation differences between destinations.

THE SCOTTISH OUTDOOR ACCESS CODE

Wild camping is permitted in Scotland in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and wild camping on Skye is a great way to intimately experience the island’s dramatic landscape. There are a few things to be aware of however, and some advance planning and preparation is required before setting off on your trip.

LEAVE NO TRACE AND THE SCOTTISH OUTDOOR ACCESS CODE

As wild camping is done in nature, away from official campsites, there are no facilities such as toilets, showers, or bins. It’s crucial that you Leave No Trace when wild camping on Skye (or anywhere else!). When you pack up and leave your wild camp spot, no-one should be able to tell that you were there. Among other things, you must take all your rubbish with you, bury human waste and carry out used toilet paper, and minimise the impact of campfires, ideally using a stove instead.

Plan ahead and pack rubbish bags and an outdoor toilet kit, including a trowel for digging a toilet hole, toilet paper, antibacterial hand gel, and sealable rubbish bags for used toilet paper. Mountaineering Scotland has some great advice for wild camping, which you can read here.

THE SCOTTISH OUTDOOR ACCESS CODE SAYS:

“Access rights extend to wild camping. This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply, but help to avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner’s permission. Leave no trace by:

The Access Code notes that access rights do not apply to motor vehicles (see guidance on parking). The Code also highlights the risk of impacts due to high levels of use in particular areas:

“You need to be aware that whilst you might visit a place only occasionally and feel that you cause no harm, the land manager or the environment might have to cope with the cumulative effects of many people. Acting with awareness and common sense underpins responsible behaviour.”


WILD CAMPING ON SKYE

In addition to the general points contained within the Leave No Trace principles and Scottish Outdoor Access Code, there are a few specific points to note with regards to hiking and wild camping on Skye.

WILD CAMPING AT POPULAR SKYE TOURIST SPOTS

Skye has experienced ever increasing tourist numbers in recent years, leading to strains on the local infrastructure and issues of over-tourism at certain hotspots. These issues have, fortunately, been addressed somewhat by the establishment of tourist facilities like paid car parks at particularly busy locations such as the Fairy Pools, the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, and the Fairy Glen.

As these popular places are relatively easy to access and have high visitor numbers throughout the year, we feel it’s best to avoid wild camping in their immediate vicinity. This is most importantly to minimise the impact on the environment, but we also feel that wild camping at any of these locations is not particularly practical either – each of the paid car parks have a 12 hour max stay restriction and finding privacy isn’t easy (even early or late in day) as they are all popular sunrise and/or sunset photography spots. Additionally, the terrain at some, particularly the Fairy Pools and the Old Man of Storr, is rocky, sloping, and/or muddy and is not well suited to camping.

AVOID THE CROWDS AND MIDGES

Skye is at its busiest in the summer months, swarming with both tourists and the dreaded biting midge. Planning your hiking and wild camping Skye trip early or late in the season is best for maximising your chance of avoiding both.

Midge season is typically between May and September which more or less coincides with the busiest tourist season, so it’s a good option to hike and wild camp on Skye in April or October, when there are fewer tourists and very little chance of midges. The weather isn’t usually too cold during these months and there is still a decent amount of daylight hours.

BE PREPARED FOR ALL WEATHER

The weather on Skye can be very changeable. No matter the forecast, you should be well prepared for all conditions when hiking and camping, particularly in the mountains and other remote areas. You should have wind, sun, and rain protection, and be prepared for both cold and warm temperatures.

We have outlined all of our own camping and hiking gear, and the reasons we use it, in our Complete Hiking Gear and Complete Camping Gear posts.

Our preferred weather apps and websites are Windy, YR.no, and Mountain-Forecast. Others also recommend MWIS and the Met Office. We’d suggest familiarising yourself with two or three of these apps/websites and always cross-reference them when checking the forecast.

PLAN A WEST HIGHLAND WAY WALK WITH OUR DETAILED GUIDES

STAYING IN A BOTHY ON SKYE

STAYING IN A BOTHY

Some of the hikes outlined in this guide include the possibility of staying overnight in a bothy. A bothy is a wind and waterproofed shelter, left unlocked and free to use by anyone for a night or two. Bothies are often old, uninhabited croft houses in remote areas which have been renovated and repurposed as wilderness shelters for outdoor enthusiasts. Many are maintained by the MBA (Mountain Bothy Association), with the cooperation and permission from the estates on which they reside.

The bothy on Raasay is a classic example of such a former croft house, but the two bothies on Skye which are mentioned in this guide are quite unique, one being a former coastguard lookout and the other a newer structure built to replace a former bothy nearby.

When staying in a bothy it is essential that you follow The Bothy Code and understand that the facilities are basic, with no toilets or running water. You can read more about bothies in general in our Introduction to Scottish Bothies guide.

OUR RECOMMENDED HIKING AND WILD CAMPING SKYE ROUTES

Below, we outline 10 of the best hikes on Skye (and Raasay), with each having wild camping or bothy stay options along the route. In addition, we cover 4 more great walks on Skye which we don’t recommend for wild camping but are worthwhile short walks or day hikes.


We aim to provide objective information about each route in order to help you decide which is best for you. Our interpretation of the level of difficulty for each walk is based on the below factors, with some of the walks falling between two categories.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL

  • Easy: Generally straightforward terrain on an obvious trail/track with little elevation gain or loss. Walking times of up to 2 hours.

  • Medium: Some terrain which may be tricky underfoot due to rocks, bog, stream/river crossings, etc. Generally obvious trail/track, but may require attention to navigation for some sections. Likely to involve some elevation gain and loss. Walking times of between 2 – 6 hours.

  • Hard: Some challenging terrain such as narrow trails with steep drop-offs, boggy ground, rocks, and potentially tricky stream/river crossings. The trail may not be clear at times, requiring navigation across open terrain. Likely to involve plenty of elevation gain and loss. May involve extended walking distances (possibly requiring an overnight stay) and walking times of 6+ hours.

SEE MORE FROM SCOTLAND

On an afternoon of bright light and deep shadow, a hiking couple stand on the rocky summit of Sgurr na Stri (one of the best hikes on Skye) overlooking the length of Loch Coruisk as it lies cradled amongst the sharp peaks of the Black Cuillin
Tall ship Bessie Ellen under sail off the coast of Jura in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland
A person in a long mustard coloured coat and black hat looking out towards the sea from a viewpoint above Loch Skipport on South Uist, with the Isle of Skye seen faintly on the horizon
A yacht in the bay at Vatersay with pastel sunset skies and the silhouette of the Isle of Rum in the background
One of the two famous stacks of St Kilda, Stac Lee rises from the sea as birds swarm around and the tourist boat MV Cuma offloads kayakers below
A walker on the old military road among the dramatic mountain scenery of the Lairigmor, a real highlight of the West Highland Way
A view of Buachaille Etive Mor on the West Highland Way
A tent set up with expansive views of the surrounding hills near Ba Bridge on Rannoch Moor, this hiker found the perfect spot while camping the West Highland Way
A person stands on the wide expanse of Tresness Beach on Sanday
An impressive view of the Old Man of Hoy from the south, showing the towering stack detatched from the rugged red cliffs of the island's west coast
Standing stones set in a large circle, known as the Ring of Brodgar, one of Orkney's most iconic sites and Scotland's largest stone circle
A person walks along the unspoiled beach of the Tresness Peninsula on Sanday
Two surfers walk across the sand in the afternoon sun at Ceannabeinne Beach, not far from Durness on the North Coast 500 route.
An abandoned boat wreck on the Isle of Mull.
Peanmeanach Bothy on the Ardnish Peninsula in February
Culross: Scotland's Best Preserved 17th century town
On an afternoon of bright light and deep shadow, a hiking couple stand on the rocky summit of Sgurr na Stri (one of the best hikes on Skye) overlooking the length of Loch Coruisk as it lies cradled amongst the sharp peaks of the Black Cuillin
Tall ship Bessie Ellen under sail off the coast of Jura in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland
A person in a long mustard coloured coat and black hat looking out towards the sea from a viewpoint above Loch Skipport on South Uist, with the Isle of Skye seen faintly on the horizon
A yacht in the bay at Vatersay with pastel sunset skies and the silhouette of the Isle of Rum in the background
One of the two famous stacks of St Kilda, Stac Lee rises from the sea as birds swarm around and the tourist boat MV Cuma offloads kayakers below
A walker on the old military road among the dramatic mountain scenery of the Lairigmor, a real highlight of the West Highland Way
A view of Buachaille Etive Mor on the West Highland Way
A tent set up with expansive views of the surrounding hills near Ba Bridge on Rannoch Moor, this hiker found the perfect spot while camping the West Highland Way
A person stands on the wide expanse of Tresness Beach on Sanday
An impressive view of the Old Man of Hoy from the south, showing the towering stack detatched from the rugged red cliffs of the island's west coast
Standing stones set in a large circle, known as the Ring of Brodgar, one of Orkney's most iconic sites and Scotland's largest stone circle
A person walks along the unspoiled beach of the Tresness Peninsula on Sanday
Two surfers walk across the sand in the afternoon sun at Ceannabeinne Beach, not far from Durness on the North Coast 500 route.
An abandoned boat wreck on the Isle of Mull.
Peanmeanach Bothy on the Ardnish Peninsula in February
Culross: Scotland's Best Preserved 17th century town

CAMAS DARAICH AND POINT OF SLEAT LIGHTHOUSE

  • Easy to Medium difficulty walk
  • 3 km one way Aird of Sleat Car Park to Camas Daraich / 1 hour / + 77 m, – 121 m
  • 1.5 km one way Camas Daraich to Point of Sleat Lighthouse / 30 – 45 mins / + 50 m, – 44 m
  • Limited number of camping spots at beach, a few more spots at bays near Sleat Point Lighthouse
  • Car park (free) for approx 10 – 12 cars
  • No public transport to trailhead; closest access is 6.6 km away at Armadale (Stagecoach bus service 52/152)

Camas Daraich is one of Skye’s best beaches and one of very few white sand beaches on the island. This is a very rewarding short-ish walk with beautiful views of the Small Isles of Rum and Eigg, as well as the mountains of Knoydart on the mainland. If possible, time your visit to the beach with low tide, when more of the beautiful sand will be exposed. The walk can be extended to include the Point of Sleat Lighthouse at the very southern tip of Skye. As Camas Daraich is close to Armadale port (for the ferry to/from Mallaig) and at the same end of the island as the Skye Bridge, its location makes it an ideal choice for a hike/wild camp at the start or end of your Skye trip.

CAR PARK TO CAMAS DARAICH

The route heads west from the car park, following a wide rough track for 2.4 km. There are two short climbs followed by a downhill section leading towards a few houses scenically located at the Point of Sleat. Shortly before the end of the track a signpost directs you to the left, up a short section of steep rocky trail. The last few hundred metres follow a trail which runs parallel to a fence at the back of a house. There are some boggy and muddy parts here, making it slower going than the previous section on solid track.

You’ll reach a waymarking post where the trail forks at a small saddle between two hills. The trail straight ahead leads down to the beach and the trail leading uphill to the right takes you to the lighthouse. There is a stream suitable for filling and treating water just before this fork, although this may run dry in certain seasons.

Camas Daraich is a beautiful and secluded curve of white sand, nestled between rocky, bracken-covered hillsides which rise to the east and west. There are some fairly flat grassy patches at the back of the beach, suitable for just a couple of small tents.

The white sand beach of Camas Daraich (an ideal spot to wild camp on Skye) sits in the foreground while the small automated lighthouse can be seen at the Point of Sleat beyond, with the Isles of Rum (right) and Eigg (left) lining the horizon

The white sand beach of Camas Daraich; the small lighthouse can be seen at the point, with the Isles of Rum (right) and Eigg (left) on the horizon



The white sand beach of Camas Daraich (an ideal spot to wild camp on Skye) sits in the foreground while the small automated lighthouse can be seen at the Point of Sleat beyond, with the Isles of Rum (right) and Eigg (left) lining the horizon

The white sand beach of Camas Daraich; the small
lighthouse can be seen at the point, with the Isles of
Rum (right) and Eigg (left) on the horizon



CAMAS DARAICH TO POINT OF SLEAT LIGHTHOUSE

The walk from Camas Daraich to Point of Sleat Lighthouse is a bit rougher going than on previous sections of the route. From the beach, return to the small saddle and take the trail leading uphill to the west. You’ll climb up to and then traverse the moorland, crossing some boggy sections while enjoying incredible views of the mainland, the Small Isles, and the Cuillin. After less than a kilometre the trail descends to some stone steps leading down to a small bay. At the bottom of the steps, curve round to the left and you’ll reach a grassy strip between two small bays, one of which has white sand. It’s a lovely spot which is also suitable for camping (although not as nice as Camas Daraich in our opinion).

From the bays, climb gently up the grassy knoll to the lighthouse. It’s a modern automated structure that isn’t much to look at, but the views are wonderful.

The modern automated lighthouse shining in the morning sun as it sits among angular rocks at the Point of Sleat on the Isle of Skye, with the Isle of Eigg on the horizon behind

The modern automated lighthouse at the Point of Sleat, with the Isle of Eigg on the horizon behind



The modern automated lighthouse shining in the morning sun as it sits among angular rocks at the Point of Sleat on the Isle of Skye, with the Isle of Eigg on the horizon behind

The modern automated lighthouse at the Point of
Sleat, with the Isle of Eigg on the horizon behind



The return journey to the car park follows the same route in reverse.


Glen Sligachan is one of Skye’s best known scenic locations, although few make it beyond the historic arched Old Bridge at the glen’s roadside northern end. While the views are indeed impressive from this point, a walk up the well-maintained and gently climbing trail to the heart of the glen is highly recommended. The River Sligachan flows through the wide glen, flanked by the jagged peaks of the Black Cuillin to the west and the rounded peaks of the Red Cuillin to the east. It’s an easy walk and you can make it as short or as long as you like, turning round after a kilometre or two, or continuing 13 kilometres to Camasunary Bay at the southern end of the glen.

From the car parking areas around Sligachan Old Bridge, follow the gravel path to the statues of early mountaineers Collie and MacKenzie. Continue on the trail leading up the glen, sticking initially to the left fork on the path running parallel to the fence, then continue straight, ignoring the gate and path to the left shortly after passing Sligachan Bunkhouse.

The trail is narrow and climbs very gently for the first 4 km or so, with small gravelly stones underfoot and the occasional boggy section or small stream crossing. If you’re looking for a wild camp, the first good spot for a small tent is by the Allt na Measarroch, around 3 km (45 mins – 1 hour) into the walk. We’ve marked the spot on our Skye map, along with a couple more further up the glen. 

A hiker on the stony walking path through Glen Sligachan on Skye, heading towards the prominent and fine looking peak of Marsco (736 m)

The walking path through Glen Sligachan, heading towards the fine looking peak of Marsco (736 m)



A hiker on the stony walking path through Glen Sligachan on Skye, heading towards the prominent and fine looking peak of Marsco (736 m)

The walking path through Glen Sligachan, heading
towards the fine looking peak of Marsco (736 m)



The trail starts to climb a little more (although still not steeply) as you pass the steep slopes of Marsco (736 m) to your left. At a distance of 6.7 km from the start (around 2 hours walking) you’ll reach a fork in the trail marked by a stone cairn. The trail to the right leads towards Sgurr na Stri and Loch Coruisk (covered in more detail below), while the trail to the left continues to Camasunary Bay. Depending on how far you want to walk, this may be a convenient turnaround point for heading back to Sligachan Old Bridge.

CAMASUNARY BAY AND BOTHY

  • Easy to medium difficulty walk from Kilmarie; easy to medium difficulty walk from Sligachan; medium to hard difficulty walk from Elgol
  • 4.4 km one way from Kilmarie via Am Mam / 1.5 hours / + 169 m, – 200 m 
  • 13.1 km one way from Sligachan / 4 hours / + 153 m, – 159 m
  • 5.3 km one way Elgol to Camasunary / 2 hours / +1 64 m, – 203 m
  • Bothy with sleeping platforms for 16 people; various wild camp spots around the bothy and bay area 
  • Kilmarie car park (free) for approx 10 – 12 cars
  • Sligachan car park at Old Bridge (free) for approx 20 cars, car park behind Sligachan Hotel (free) for approx 25 cars, layby nearby (free) for approx 5 cars
  • Elgol car park at jetty (free) for approx 15 cars; more car parking spaces near shop/toilets up the hill
  • Stagecoach Bus 52/152/155 to Sligachan (Portree – Armadale service) or Citylink Glasgow/Inverness to Skye Bus 915/916/917 to Sligachan
  • Stagecoach Bus 55 to Kilmarie and Elgol (Kyle of Lochalsh/Broadford to Elgol service) 
  • Add-on walks to Sgurr na Stri and Loch Coruisk

Camasunary Bay is a truly beautiful place, a well protected spot where wide shore meets sheltered sea. The dramatic peak of Sgurr na Stri (494 m) rises to the west, Bla Bheinn (928 m) looms behind, and looking out, the Small Isles of Rum, Eigg, and Canna dot the horizon. Big rocks line the foreshore in front of the new Camasunary Bothy (a wonderful place to spend the night), and sweeping around to the old bothy on the western side of the bay is a lovely curve of beach backed by a large grassy area, perfect for wild camping.

Camasunary Bay is only accessible on foot, and while its beauty is no secret, the minimum 1.5 hour walk (one way) means it remains a generally peaceful place. It’s one of our top recommendations for a day hike or an overnight bothy/wild camping trip on Skye. The shortest and easiest route is from Kilmarie (to the east), which follows an old vehicle track up to a pass and down to the bay. Another option is to hike along the coastal path from Elgol (to the south), a beautiful route but some find it challenging due to sections of narrow trail on steep cliff sides. Lastly, you can approach from Sligachan (to the north), on a lengthy but straightforward trail through the glen.

An aerial view of Camasunary Bay on the Isle of Skye: Glen Sligachan can be seen down the middle, with Bla Bheinn (928 m) dominating the skyline on the right, and the grassy shore highlighted by the morning sun as it meets the darker waters of the bay

An aerial view of Camasunary Bay: Glen Sligachan can be seen down the middle, with Bla Bheinn (928 m) dominating the skyline on the right



An aerial view of Camasunary Bay on the Isle of Skye: Glen Sligachan can be seen down the middle, with Bla Bheinn (928 m) dominating the skyline on the right, and the grassy shore highlighted by the morning sun as it meets the darker waters of the bay

Aerial view of Camasunary Bay: Glen Sligachan can
be seen down the middle, with Bla Bheinn (928 m)
dominating the skyline on the right



HIKE FROM KILMARIE TO CAMASUNARY BAY

The shortest and most straightforward walking route to Camasunary Bay is from the small settlement of Kilmarie, on the road to Elgol. The track starts across the road from the car parking area, marked by an information sign. Pass through the gate and follow the wide stony track as it climbs gradually for the first kilometre. It then becomes a bit steeper for the next 1.5 km before reaching the pass (Am Mam), at an elevation of 190 m. From here, the views of Camasunary Bay, the Cuillin, and numerous islands out to sea are wonderful. Head downhill on the track, which curves to the right initially then continues down to the bay itself. Cross the bridge to reach the beach and bay, or follow the trail to the left for the new Camasunary Bothy.

HIKE FROM ELGOL TO CAMASUNARY BAY

This spectacular coastal walk is a more interesting approach to Camasunary Bay than the track from Kilmarie. It is more challenging though, due to a couple of sections where narrow trails run along steep-sided cliffs with drop-offs to the water below. I (Kim) do not have a head for heights and was anxious about this route, but in reality I did not find it overly challenging or scary. Note that we walked this in dry, calm weather, and it had been dry and sunny for the previous few days, so the trail itself was not overly muddy or slippery. In wet conditions, or after prolonged periods of rain, the trail is likely to be muddy, slippery, and potentially dangerous.

The trail starts near the top of Elgol village and heads northwest from the main road (with the coast to your left) on an access road that passes a few houses. There is a signpost marking the turn-off. Beyond the last house, the road ends and a walking trail begins, crossing the grassy hillside and running parallel to the coastline. Depending on recent weather, it can be boggy underfoot in places. The gently sloping hillside becomes steep below Ben Cleat and there is a ~ 1 km narrow section of trail, with a drop-off to the water below. This is the trickiest section of the route if you are uncomfortable on such trails.

An informational sign in Elgol on the Isle of Skye, showing the way to Camasunary Bay and Sligachan (distance in miles)

Info sign showing the way to Camasunary Bay and Sligachan (distance in miles)



A view of Sgurr na Stri (494 m) from the trail between the village of Elgol and Camasunary Bay in the southwestern part of Skye

A view of Sgurr na Stri (494 m) from the trail



An informational sign in Elgol on the Isle of Skye, showing the way to Camasunary Bay and Sligachan (distance in miles)

Info sign showing the way to Camasunary
Bay and Sligachan (distance in miles)


A view of Sgurr na Stri (494 m) from the trail between the village of Elgol and Camasunary Bay in the southwestern part of Skye

A view of Sgurr na Stri (494 m) from the trail



The narrow cliffside trail descends to the wide bay at Cladach a’ Ghlinne. Cross the beach and continue climbing the trail on the opposite hillside. The trail becomes narrow on a steep hillside again, however there are bushes, small trees, and other vegetation lining the trail (and blocking the view of the steep drop off!). If the vegetation is quite overgrown, it can be a bit slow-going on this section. The narrow trail and steep hillside starts to broaden and flatten out as it slopes down to Camasunary Bothy, with the final stretch crossing rocks and grassy trail closer to the shoreline.

A view of Camasunary Bay (a wonderful place to either stay in a bothy or wild camp on Skye), seen from the south on the coastal trail approaching from Elgol

After the cliffside trail, the final approach to Camasunary Bay is fairly gentle



A hiker on the narrow, muddy trail approaching Camasunary Bay, a wonderful place to either stay in a bothy or wild camp on Skye

The final approach to Camasunary Bay
traverses a fairly gentle hillside 



HIKE FROM SLIGACHAN TO CAMASUNARY BAY

The walking route from Sligachan is the longest approach, but it’s straightforward and on a good trail the whole way. The first 7 km follows the same easy route up the glen to the fork in the trail marked with a cairn, as described in the Glen Sligachan hike outlined above.

At the fork, take the left trail and continue through the glen, with the dramatic rocky peak of Bla Bheinn coming into view as you curve round to the left. The trail passes by a lochan and crosses a wide stream (you should be able to cross easily on stones when it’s shallow, but during or after heavy rain this could be tricky).

The hills close in as you approach Loch na Creitheach with the trail running along the loch’s eastern side, and soon after passing its southern end, Camasunary Bay comes into view. Follow the trail gently downhill towards the big white farmhouse, branching to the left to cross the bridge for New Camasunary Bothy, or to the right to explore the beach and the surrounds of the old bothy.

CAMASUNARY BOTHY

The New Camasunary Bothy was built in 2015 to replace the old one at the western end of the bay (a seriously run down building in use since the 1970s). It consists of an entrance porch plus two rooms: one with a seating and cooking area, the other with a large bunk bed sleeping platform suitable for about 16 people. Big windows look out across the water, flooding the space with lots of natural light and allowing you to appreciate the beautiful views. There are informative maps and posters on the walls, a few books and games lying around, plenty of benches and seating areas along the walls, and hooks dotted about for hanging coats, etc. There is no fireplace but the bothy is insulated. The building itself lacks the character of many older bothies, but it’s a comfortable space and the location can’t be beat.

The well constructed New Camasunary Bothy at Camasunary Bay on Skye, facing out towards the bay with a cloud-topped Bla Bheinn rising behind

The well constructed New Camasunary Bothy, facing out towards the bay with Bla Bheinn rising behind



The well constructed New Camasunary Bothy at Camasunary Bay on Skye, facing out towards the bay with a cloud-topped Bla Bheinn rising behind

The well constructed New Camasunary Bothy, facing
out towards the bay with Bla Bheinn rising behind


A visitor sitting at a large wooden table and writing an entry in the bothy book in the Camasunary bothy on the Isle of Skye

Writing in the bothy book; great to share your own
experiences and entertaining to read those of others



There is a natural spring behind the bothy which can be used for filling water. Note that there is no toilet, but there is a spade provided and you should follow best practice guidelines for going to the toilet outdoors, including going far away from any water sources and from the bothy itself.

The bothy is free to stay in and as with all bothies, you just show up and share the space with whoever happens to be there. Be sure to follow the Bothy Code when using the bothy.

LOCH CORUISK

  • Medium difficulty walk from Sligachan; medium to hard difficulty walk from Camasunary Bay/Kilmarie/Elgol; easy from Elgol via boat
  • 12.4 km one way from Sligachan / 4 hours / + 386 m, – 393 m
  • 5.1 km one way from Camasunary Bay (via The Bad Step) / 2 hours / + 126 m, – 122 m
  • 9.4 km one way from Kilmarie (via Camasunary Bay and The Bad Step) / 3.5 hours / + 295 m, – 322 m
  • 10.3 km one way from Elgol (via Camasunary Bay and The Bad Step) / 4 hours / +  290 m, – 325 m
  • 45 mins by boat from Elgol
  • Boats from Elgol to Loch Coruisk operated by Bella Jane and Misty Isle Boat Trips between April and October; book in advance; prices from £18 one way / £24 return; weather dependent
  • Various camp spots around Loch Coruisk suitable for small tents
  • Sligachan car park at Old Bridge (free) for approx 20 cars; car park behind Sligachan Hotel (free) for approx 25 cars; layby nearby (free) for approx 5 cars
  • Kilmarie car park (free) for approx 10 – 12 cars
  • Elgol car park at jetty (free) for approx 15 cars; more car parking spaces near shop/toilets up the hill
  • Stagecoach Bus 52/152/155 to Sligachan (Portree – Armadale service) or Citylink Glasgow/Inverness to Skye Bus 915/916/917 to Sligachan
  • Stagecoach Bus 55 to Elgol (Kyle of Lochalsh/Broadford to Elgol service) 
  • Can be combined with walks to Glen Sligachan and Camasunary Bay
  • Add-on hike to Sgurr na Stri

Only accessible by foot or boat, Loch Coruisk is a spectacular fresh-water loch hidden among the dramatic Black Cuillin mountains. Standing (or camping) on its shores below a ring of jagged peaks is a real highlight of a trip to Skye for many outdoor lovers. It’s possible to walk a complete circuit of the loch (on an often boggy trail, with potentially tricky crossings of the Coruisk and Scavaig Rivers after heavy rains), or just soak up the wonderful views from the various hillsides and small stony beaches around the southeastern shores.

The easiest and fastest way to reach Loch Coruisk is by boat (from Elgol), and this is the best option if you’re only interested in a day hike. It’s also possible to walk from Sligachan or Camasunary Bay, but the distance is quite long so this is best suited to those who plan to wild camp or combine the walk with a one way boat trip to/from Elgol. Loch Coruisk makes for a fantastic standalone trip, but if you have two or three days it’s worth combining a visit here with other highlights in the area, such as a hike up Sgurr na Stri, or a loop including Camasunary Bay and Glen Sligachan (covered in detail below). It’s best to save this trip for good weather given the remote location and limited accessibility.

A view of Loch Coruisk from the southeastern shore



A view of Loch Coruisk from the southeastern shore



ELGOL TO LOCH CORUISK BY BOAT

If you have limited time and/or don’t fancy the long walk to Loch Coruisk, then a boat trip from Elgol is the perfect choice. Two companies – Bella Jane and Misty Isle Boat Trips –  run trips between April and October. Outside of these months, it may still be possible to book onto the Misty Isle – contact them in advance to check. The boats only operate in good weather, and the trip takes around 45 minutes one way. If you happen to end up on the AquaXplore RIB operated by the same company as Bella Jane (quite possible at quieter times), the journey only takes around 15 minutes one way. You’re almost guaranteed to see seals, possibly other marine and bird life too, and you’ll likely get the chance for an up close view of the infamous ‘Bad Step’.

The boats drop off and pick up passengers at a small landing jetty. From here, a short walk of a few hundred metres leads towards Loch Coruisk itself, following a rough trail across rocky/grassy terrain on the northern side of the Scavaig River, one of the shortest in the UK. You can cross the river on a series of large stepping stones to reach the eastern side of the loch.

Each of the boat companies run trips a few times a day, allowing you to travel out in the morning and back in the afternoon. Otherwise, you can camp overnight and return on a later date. It’s also possible to travel one way by boat, allowing you to combine the boat trip to/from Elgol with a hike to/from Sligachan or Camasunary Bay/Kilmarie/Elgol. Be sure to arrange your boat in advance, and note that you are unlikely to have a phone signal at the loch.

The ‘Bad Step’, a sloping rock surface that must be crossed by those walking between Loch Coruisk and Camasunary Bay



Travelling from Loch Coruisk to Elgol on the AquaXplore RIB boat, operated by Bella Jane Boat Trips



Travelling from Loch Coruisk to Elgol
on the AquaXplore RIB boat


The ‘Bad Step’, a sloping rock surface that
must be crossed by those walking between
Loch Coruisk and Camasunary Bay



HIKE FROM SLIGACHAN TO LOCH CORUISK

The most straightforward (albeit longest) walking route to Loch Coruisk is via Glen Sligachan. The first 7 km follows the same easy route up the glen to the fork in the trail (marked by a cairn) as described in the ‘Glen Sligachan’ hike outlined above.

At the fork, the trail to Loch Coruisk follows the right path. You’ll soon cross a small stream and about a kilometre from the fork, the trail starts climbing to Druim Hain ridge, gaining about 250 metres in elevation. You’ll pass a small lochan then reach a cairn on the ridge itself, marking another fork in the trail – the path to the right descends to Loch Coruisk, while another continues along the ridge to Sgurr na Stri (494 m). A side hike up to the spectacular viewpoint at Sgurr na Stri is highly recommended, and we outline this route in the ‘3 Day Loop hike‘ below.

Take the right fork to descend the heather-covered slopes to Loch Coruisk, being careful on the narrow stone and dirt trail which can be extremely boggy at times. You’ll pass the picturesque Loch a’ Choire Riabhaich to the right, before the final descent to the eastern shore of Loch Coruisk.

There are various possible wild camp spots suitable for individual small tents. You can find these dotted around the hillsides or on the small stone beaches either side of the Scavaig River. Note that the Coruisk Memorial Hut is not an open bothy but is owned by the Glasgow section of the Junior Mountaineering Club of Scotland – it is only available for hire by Mountaineering Scotland and BMC affiliated clubs.

A hiker crossing a rocky landscape of red/orange grass, approaching Druim Hain ridge after climbing up from Glen Sligachan while on a hiking and wild camping Skye trip

Loch a’ Choire Riabhaich sitting picturesquely in the valley below Druim Hain ridge on the Isle of Skye, with a sliver of Loch Coruisk seen in the valley beyond

A tent pitched on one of the small stone beaches on the shores of Loch Coruisk, one of the best locations to sleep at on a hiking and wild camping Skye trip

A hiker crossing a rocky landscape of red/orange grass, approaching Druim Hain ridge after climbing up from Glen Sligachan while on a hiking and wild camping Skye trip

Approaching Druim Hain ridge after
climbing up from Glen Sligachan


Loch a’ Choire Riabhaich sitting picturesquely in the valley below Druim Hain ridge on the Isle of Skye, with a sliver of Loch Coruisk seen in the valley beyond

Loch a’ Choire Riabhaich sitting picturesquely in
the valley below Druim Hain ridge, with a sliver
of Loch Coruisk seen in the valley beyond


A tent pitched on one of the small stone beaches on the shores of Loch Coruisk, one of the best locations to sleep at on a hiking and wild camping Skye trip

One of the small stone beaches on the shores of
Loch Coruisk which are suitable for camping



HIKE FROM CAMASUNARY BAY TO LOCH CORUISK

From Camasunary Bay (itself only accessible on foot, see the route description above), a trail skirts the lower slopes of Sgurr na Stri to reach Loch Coruisk. The distance isn’t great (5 km) and there is little change in elevation, however we’d consider it a walk of medium to hard difficulty due to two features of this route.

The first is a river crossing at the western side of Camasunary Bay. At low tide the Amhainn Camas Fhionnairidh can usually be crossed on stepping stones, but at high tide or after heavy rains, the crossing becomes much more challenging, or even impossible. The second notable challenge on this trail is the Bad Step, a section of rock sloping into the sea which must be crossed shortly before reaching Loch Coruisk. It can be dangerous in poor weather, and for those with a fear of heights and tricky terrain, the challenge of The Bad Step may be insurmountable.

Walking from Camasunary Bay, the route passes the old bothy at the western side of the bay (now replaced by a new one on the eastern side) before arriving at the river bank. The best spot to cross is about 300 metres upstream from the mouth of the river, using the protruding rocks as stepping stones. As mentioned already though, at high tide and after heavy rainfall these stones may be completely submerged, so time your walk accordingly.

A hiker inspecting the Amhainn Camas Fhionnairidh at dusk, with the tide in; this wide river is best crossed when the tide is out

Inspecting the Amhainn Camas Fhionnairidh at dusk, with the tide in; the river is best crossed when the tide is out



A hiker inspecting the Amhainn Camas Fhionnairidh at dusk, with the tide in; this wide river is best crossed when the tide is out

Inspecting the Amhainn Camas Fhionnairidh at
dusk, with the tide in; the river is best crossed
when the tide is out



After crossing the river, the trail continues to the left (south), curving around the bottom of Sgurr na Stri, the ‘Peak of Strife’. You’ll reach The Bad Step about 3 km beyond the river. The best approach for traversing this slab of gabbro rock (which is naturally very grippy) is to follow the narrow but obvious crack up to the midpoint, then down the other side, where it’s considerably wider underfoot. Don’t try to climb high, the rockface is much steeper than it looks and a fall from here is even more dangerous.

Approaching from the Camasunary side, you should climb up onto the rock (at about waist height) and start inching your way across, moving diagonally upwards as the crack rises gently. Use your hands and lean your whole body weight into the rockface to steady yourself. The crack becomes a bit wider towards the midpoint, making it easier for your feet to edge along. Take the left fork in the crack around the midpoint, following it diagonally down onto a broad ledge, leading to the other side.

From the Bad Step to Loch Coruisk, the final few hundred metres is initially rocky underfoot. There’s then a climb to a small saddle before the trail heads down to the loch shore.

3 DAY LOOP: SLIGACHAN, SGURR NA STRI, LOCH CORUISK AND CAMASUNARY

  • Medium to hard difficulty loop walk starting and ending Sligachan, with option for boat + coastal cliff walk between Loch Coruisk and Camasunary via Elgol OR walk from Loch Coruisk to Camasunary via the Bad Step
  • 35.3 km loop via Elgol (boat between Loch Coruisk and Elgol) / suggest 2 nights, 3 days / total ascent + 965 m, total descent – 1005 m
  • 35.1 km loop via the Bad Step / suggest 2 nights, 3 days / total ascent + 923 m, total descent – 928 m
  • Various camp spots in Glen Sligachan, around Loch Coruisk, and at Camasunary Bay; Bothy at Camasunary (sleeps 16)
  • Sligachan car park at Old Bridge (free) for approx 20 cars; car park behind Sligachan Hotel (free) for approx 25 cars; layby nearby (free) for approx 5 cars
  • Stagecoach Bus 52/152/155 to Sligachan (Portree – Armadale service) or Citylink Glasgow/Inverness to Skye Bus 915/916/917 to Sligachan
  • NOTE: Book one-way boat pick up from Loch Coruisk to Elgol in advance (no phone service at Loch Coruisk)
  • Shop (usually open 10am – 4pm, Mon – Sat) and public toilets (fee payable) available in Elgol, otherwise no facilities

To experience some of the best scenery and wild camping Skye has to offer, we’d highly recommend combining Glen Sligachan, Sgurr na Stri, Loch Coruisk and Camasunary Bay into a 2 night, 3 day loop hike, with a night wild camping at Loch Coruisk followed by a night in the bothy or wild camping at Camasunary Bay. The loop can be done entirely on foot, or it can include a one way boat trip from Loch Coruisk to Elgol (be sure to book this in advance!).

Aim to complete this loop in good weather only, especially the sections to Sgurr na Stri and Loch Coruisk on Day 1, and the coastal sections to Camasunary Bay on Day 2. Heavy rain and/or poor visibility can be dangerous in this remote environment, with some steep drop-offs, river crossings, and tricky terrain. Plus, the views are spectacular and you’ll want good weather to enjoy them!

We’ve described the route in an anti-clockwise direction starting and ending at Sligachan (easy to access by car or bus). However, it could also be done in a clockwise direction, or amended in various ways to suit your timeframe, mode of transport, or weather window. For example you could start and end at Elgol, skipping part of Glen Sligachan, or you could make it a one way hike ending at Elgol, essentially following the unofficial Skye Trail alternate route via Loch Coruisk and the Bad Step.

A view of the iconic Black Cuillin on a day day of sharp contrast, seen from the slopes of Sgurr Hain while hiking to the summit of Sgurr na Stri on the Isle of Skye

View of the iconic Black Cuillin from the slopes of Sgurr Hain



A view of the iconic Black Cuillin on a day day of sharp contrast, seen from the slopes of Sgurr Hain while hiking to the summit of Sgurr na Stri on the Isle of Skye

View of the iconic Black Cuillin
from the slopes of Sgurr Hain



DAY 1: SLIGACHAN TO LOCH CORUISK VIA SGURR NA STRI

Part One | Sligachan to Druim Hain Ridge

From the car park/bus stop at Sligachan, follow the easy trail up Glen Sligachan to the fork marked by a cairn about 7 km from the start (as outlined in theGlen Sligachan’ section above). Take the right fork and then continue up to the Druim Hain ridge, reaching another fork marked by a cairn (as outlined in the Sligachan to Loch Coruisk’ section above). You’ll return to this point later to take the right fork down to Loch Coruisk, but for now follow the left fork for the side hike to Sgurr na Stri.

Part Two | Sgurr na Stri Side Hike

The trail soon becomes less obvious for a while as it traverses the slopes of Sgurr Hain – look for the small cairns dotted along the route to find the best way. You’ll descend slightly with views of Loch Coruisk and the Black Cuillin to your right, before beginning the climb to the summit. You’ll ascend about 200 metres over a kilometre, following a rocky trail with the stream on your right. The trail dips slightly after a small rise, where views of Camasunary Bay open up, before climbing through a narrowing gully. After reaching a flat area, look for a route up the rocks to the right and follow it to the large summit cairn at the top.

The views from Sgurr na Stri (494 m) are outstanding, overlooking Loch Coruisk and the Cuillin to the west, Loch Scavaig (a sea loch) and the Small Isles to the south, and the mountains of Knoydart in the distance to the east. There is lots of room to wander at the summit and take in the different vantage points, before returning the same way to the fork on Druim Hain ridge and taking the trail to Loch Coruisk.

On an afternoon of bright light and deep shadow, a hiking couple stand on the rocky summit of Sgurr na Stri (one of the best hikes on Skye) overlooking the length of Loch Coruisk as it lies cradled amongst the sharp peaks of the Black Cuillin

One of Skye’s (and Scotland’s) very best views, overlooking Loch Coruisk from Sgurr na Stri



On an afternoon of bright light and deep shadow, a hiking couple stand on the rocky summit of Sgurr na Stri (one of the best hikes on Skye) overlooking the length of Loch Coruisk as it lies cradled amongst the sharp peaks of the Black Cuillin

One of Skye’s (and Scotland’s) very best views,
overlooking Loch Coruisk from Sgurr na Stri



Part Three | Druim Hain Ridge to Loch Coruisk

From the cairn marking the fork in the trail at Druin Hain ridge, follow the route descending to Loch Coruisk as outlined in the ‘Sligachan to Loch Coruisk’ section above.

DAY TWO: LOCH CORUISK TO CAMASUNARY BAY VIA THE BAD STEP or ELGOL

There are two possible routes between Loch Coruisk and Camasunary Bay. The first is entirely on foot and goes via the (challenging for some) Bad Step and lower slopes of Sgurr na Stri, before crossing the Amhainn Camas Fhionnairidh river to Camasunary Bay (tricky or even impossible if water levels are high). The second involves a one way boat trip from Loch Coruisk to Elgol (book in advance with Bella Jane or Misty Isle Boat Trips) and a hike from Elgol to Camasunary Bay (on the coastal path that has some narrow trails on steep slopes with sudden drop-offs).

For details of each route see our Camasunary Bay to Loch Coruisk Hike (you would follow the route in reverse), and our Elgol to Camasunary Bay Hike, both outlined above. There is a shop in Elgol (usually open 10am – 4pm, Monday – Saturday, closed Sundays) where you can buy both fresh and long-life food.

Note that if you find the prospect of either of these routes too challenging, it is possible to get from Loch Coruisk to Camasunary Bay via a couple of alternative routes. However, this requires retracing your steps or going on a big detour.

One option is to retrace your route back up to Druim Hain ridge and down to the fork marked by the cairn in Glen Sligachan, then follow the path heading southeast to Camasunary Bay (11.5 km; + 387 m, – 394 m; approx 4 hours hiking time). A second option is to take the boat to Elgol and walk, drive, hitchhike, or take the bus to Kilmarie, then hike from Kilmarie to Camasunary Bay (following the route outlined in the ‘Kilmarie to Camasunary Bay’ section above). Following the road, the distance between the boat jetty at Elgol and the trailhead at Kilmarie is 5.5 km (+ 169 m, – 134 m elevation gain/loss).

DAY THREE: CAMASUNARY BAY TO SLIGACHAN

The final section of this loop hike follows a straightforward route through Glen Sligachan, from Camasunary Bay back to Sligachan. It is fairly long at 13 km, but there is little elevation change, the trail is easy to follow, and the good quality path makes the terrain unchallenging. For details, see the ‘Sligachan to Camasunary Bay’ section above and follow the outlined route in reverse.

VISIT THE OUTER HEBRIDES

THE QUIRAING

  • Easy to medium difficulty loop walk from free car park near Flodigarry OR official paid car park
  • 9.9 km loop hike from Flodigarry / 4 hours / + 723 m, – 723 m
  • 6.5 km loop hike from official car park / 3 hours / + 469 m, – 469 m
  • Shorter walks with little elevation change also possible
  • Best not to wild camp around The Quiraing due to high numbers of tourists; if you do choose to camp here, set up late and leave early; some possible spots are marked on our Skye E-Map
  • Flodigarry car park (free) for approx 10 – 12 cars
  • Official Quiraing car park for approx 100 cars, fee payable 0800 – 2000, £3 up to 3 hours, £5 up to 6 hours, max stay 12 hours
  • Stagecoach Bus 57A/57C to Flodigarry RE (road end), 760 metres from the Flodigarry trailhead

The Quiraing, an otherworldly landscape formed by an ancient landslip, features one of the very best short hikes on Skye. In other words, don’t miss it! You barely need to walk any distance at all from the official (paid) car park to appreciate the dramatic scenery, but we’d certainly recommend a longer walk along both the bottom and top of the escarpment. This allows you to get close to weird and wonderful rock formations like the ‘Prison’ and the ‘Needle’, before gaining a whole new perspective from the Trotternish Ridge above.

The Quiraing is an extremely popular tourist spot on Skye, so visit early to avoid the crowds, and consider following the route from the free car parking area near Flodigarry to enjoy some quieter sections of trail. Sunrise at the Quiraing is especially picturesque (expect to see plenty of landscape photographers and professional photoshoots taking place!), and don’t be put off by dreich weather – this is the kind of place that 100% suits moody, misty skies!

A view of Cleat hill as the rising sun breaks through dark cloud cover, seen from the Quiraing walk on Skye

Sunrise view from the Quiraing



A view of Cleat hill as the rising sun breaks through dark cloud cover, seen from the Quiraing walk on Skye

Sunrise view from the Quiraing



THE QUIRAING WALK

The easiest and shortest walking route through the Quiraing starts at the official paid car park, on the Quiraing Road connecting Staffin and Uig. From the car park, situated about 260 metres above sea level, a walking trail runs for 2 km along the bottom of the escarpment to the most dramatic natural features: the Prison, the Needle, and the Table. The path is narrow, rocky, and can be wet and muddy in places, but there isn’t much elevation change so it’s fairly easy-going for the most part. At one point the trail crosses a small waterfall/stream in a narrow gully, requiring a short hop and slight scramble across the rocks either side.

As you approach the Prison, a prominent rock feature to the right, the path all but disappears and the grass gives way to a slope of dirt and jumbled stones, which climbs steeply for a brief section. To the left is the Needle, a pinnacle of rock standing tall amidst other impressive features of the landslip. If you only have time or energy for a short walk, this makes a good turnaround point to head back to the car park. Otherwise, continue on the path as it curves round to the left, with more impressive views coming into sight. Shortly after passing a small lochan, a trail forks to the right. This descends to the free car parking area near Flodigarry. Stick to the left fork to continue on the loop hike.

After the path for Flodigarry, the trail enters a small scenic glen then climbs steeply to the left, up onto the ridge. In good weather the views from the top are spectacular. Head south (the trail you’ve just been on will be below and to your left), climbing gradually to a high point overlooking the grassy top of the Table and the jagged pinnacle of the Needle. From here, descend the gently sloping expanse of the Trotternish Ridge, heading southwest. This eventually leads to a steep and heavily eroded trail on your left, taking you back down to the start.

An aerial view of the Needle and its surrounding rocky pinnacles, one of the most dramatic features of the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye

Two hikers pausing to take in the misty views from the Trotternish ridge on Skye, with the trail that runs through the heart of the Quiraing directly below where they stand

The trail leading up to the Prison (a dramatic rock formation at the Quiraing) and the gap to its left, from where you can retrace your steps to the car park or carry on round, climb up to the ridge, and complete the Quiraing loop hike

The trail leading up to the Prison (a dramatic rock formation at the Quiraing) and the gap to its left, from where you can retrace your steps to the car park or carry on round, climb up to the ridge, and complete the Quiraing loop hike

The trail leading up to the Prison and the rocky
gap
to its left, from where you can retrace your
steps to the car park or carry on to complete
the Quiraing loop hike


Two hikers pausing to take in the misty views from the Trotternish ridge on Skye, with the trail that runs through the heart of the Quiraing directly below where they stand

Misty views from the lower part of the ridge,
with the trail that runs south through the heart
of the Quiraing directly below


An aerial view of the Needle and its surrounding rocky pinnacles, one of the most dramatic features of the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye

Aerial view of the Needle and its rocky companions



THE QUIRAING WALK FROM FLODIGARRY

It’s possible to approach The Quiraing from the northeast, on a trail climbing up from the free parking area near Flodigarry. This joins the loop hike (as described above) at the fork in the trail just north of the Prison and the Needle. It’s a longer route than that starting at the official car park, adding an extra 3.4 km and 250 metres of elevation gain/loss. However, it’s the less popular choice by far, meaning there will be much quieter sections of trail. Opting for this route is also a good choice if you are travelling by bus, or want to take advantage of free parking with no maximum stay.

From the parking area the path skirts around the northern shore of Loch Langaig, climbs to Loch Hasco, and then continues up to the base of the escarpment. From here you can choose to turn right and follow the loop hike in an anti-clockwise direction as described above, exploring the ridge first, or turn left and follow it clockwise, exploring the heart of The Quiraing first before ascending to the ridge at the southern end, looping back to the fork, and retracing your route to Flodigarry.

RUBHA HUNISH AND THE LOOKOUT BOTHY

  • Easy walk to the Lookout Bothy; easy to medium difficulty walk to headland beyond the bothy
  • 5 km return car park to bothy / 1.5 hours  / + 85 m, – 85 m
  • 2.5 km loop from Lookout Bothy around Rubha Hunish headland / 1.5 hours  / + 103 m, – 112 m
  • The Lookout Bothy (sleeps 3); wild camping possible in immediate vicinity of bothy (very exposed) or in more protected dip to the SW of the bothy (can be boggy in places) 
  • Car park (free) at Shulista road trailhead for approx 6 – 8 cars 
  • Stagecoach Bus 57A/57C to Shulista phone box, very close to trailhead

Perched on a clifftop at the northernmost tip of Skye, the wonderfully situated Lookout Bothy stands guard over the protruding headland of Rubha Hunish and the wildlife-rich waters of the Little Minch beyond. As a former coastguard watch station you can expect nothing less than spectacular seascapes from the bothy’s glass-fronted ‘living room’ (weather permitting of course!). The large Outer Hebridean island of Lewis and Harris spans the distant horizon, while dramatic cliffs extend along the coast to the east, with stacks and geos below. This is a walk best kept for a clear day if your aim is to enjoy the glorious views, but making a beeline for The Lookout in foul weather can be equally appealing for those seeking shelter. The open bothy is small however, with sleeping platforms for only three people.

A visit to the bothy is a straightforward and highly rewarding short walk in itself, but for those keen to explore further, it’s possible to descend the cliffside on a narrow, rocky trail to the headland, Rubha Hunish.

Early morning outside the Lookout bothy on Skye, the sun breaking through the clouds above Lewis and Harris on the far horizon

Early morning at The Lookout, the sun breaking through the clouds above Lewis and Harris



Early morning outside the Lookout bothy on Skye, the sun breaking through the clouds above Lewis and Harris on the far horizon

Early morning at The Lookout, the sun breaking
through the clouds above Lewis and Harris



TRAIL TO THE BOTHY

By the car park on the Shulista road, a signpost on the far side of the cattle grid points the way to Rubha Hunish. The path is easy to follow as it climbs gently across open hillside, although occasional boggy sections are to be expected. Pass through a kissing gate and continue towards a gap between two hills. There are three possible routes to The Lookout from here, allowing you to vary your route slightly on the way out and back.

The first option is to follow a trail heading uphill to the right before entering the gap, approaching the bothy from the south. Alternatively, continue through the gap between the hills and take the trail branching up to the right around the mid-way point. This climbs a little steeply at first, then makes a sharp right turn to approach the bothy from the west. The last option is to continue all the way to the far side of the gap until arriving at a fence by the cliff edge. This is where the narrow rocky trail descends to Rubha Hunish. From the fence, turn right and climb the hillside where you’ll join the other trail and approach the bothy from the west.

THE LOOKOUT BOTHY

The Lookout Bothy is an open shelter maintained by volunteers of the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA), with the door left unlocked and the bothy available for use by anyone. You should always follow the Bothy Code, ensuring you carry out all rubbish and respect the bothy, other users, and the surrounding area.

The box-shaped bothy consists of a short entrance corridor, a small room at the back with a wooden bunk for three people (two below, one above), an alcove for cooking, and a square room at the front (the original coastguard lookout hut) with windows on three sides. The original fireplace has been blocked up and the old wall-mounted phone is no longer in use, but still makes a great feature. There is a wooden table and some chairs, a whale identification poster, an old wooden oar mounted on the ceiling, a bothy book to sign, and a few other books and items. With the furniture pushed to the side it’s possible to sleep another four or five people on the floor.

Two people are drinking coffee in front of the large sea facing windows in the Lookout Bothy on Skye

Blue painted wooden bunks with room for three people at the rear of the Lookout bothy on Skye

The old wall-mounted telephone in the Lookout bothy on Skye, no longer in use but a great period feature to appreciate

An alcove used as a cooking area in The Lookout Bothy on Skye

Two people are drinking coffee in front of the large sea facing windows in the Lookout Bothy on Skye

Plenty of great light coming in and expansive
views to enjoy thanks to the large windows in
the main room of The Lookout


An alcove used as a cooking area in The Lookout Bothy on Skye

Cooking area in The Lookout


Blue painted wooden bunks with room for three people at the rear of the Lookout bothy on Skye

Wooden bunks at the rear of the bothy,
with room for three people to sleep



As with most bothies, there is no toilet or running water. A spade is provided for going to the toilet responsibly outdoors. Although there is no reliable drinking water source nearby, there is a rainwater tank with a tap outside (to the right of the door) which is okay to use after treating with your preferred sterilisation method.

Be aware that Rubha Hunish is the start/end point of the Skye Trail (an unofficial long-distance hiking route through the island) so it can get very busy here with both day hikers and multi-day backpackers.

RUBHA HUNISH

To continue on to the headland itself, head west from the bothy, keeping the cliffedge on your right as you follow the trail down to the gap between two hills. Use the stiles to cross over a couple of fences in the gap, then pass through a metal gate. At this point the trail becomes a little tricky as it descends down the cliff for 65 metres, to the flat headland below; the path is rocky and you’ll need to scramble a bit, but once you reach the bottom it becomes much easier.

You can make a loop around the headland, crossing to the old lazy beds on the eastern side for a great view over the geos and stacks, then up to the northern tip and back along the western side. Retrace your route up the cliffside trail to the top and back to the bothy or car park.

CORAL BEACH

  • Easy walk 
  • 4 km return / 1 hour / + 59 m, – 59 m
  • Numerous camp spots on grass behind beach, or on northern side of hillock
  • Car park at Claigan (free) for approx 20 cars 
  • No public transport to trailhead; closest access by Stagecoach bus 56, 5 km away at Dunvegan Castle

One of the shortest and easiest of our recommended hikes on Skye, Coral Beach is especially beautiful on a sunny day and it doubles up as a great wild camping spot too. The beach appears to be white sand from a distance, but it is in fact formed of maërl, the bleached skeletons of a red coralline seaweed. The shallow waters of Loch Dunvegan shine turquoise in the sun and striking black rocks dot the shore, with the whole area backed by a broad flat swathe of green grass. The cliffs of Dunvegan Head rise on the opposite side of the sea loch, and a small hillock crowns the northern end of the beach, the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy the gorgeous views.

The sweeping curve of sunny Coral Beach on the shores of Loch Dunvegan, with the grassy area behind the beach providing one of the best wild camping areas on Skye

Coral Beach on a sunny and windy day



The sweeping curve of sunny Coral Beach on the shores of Loch Dunvegan, with the grassy area behind the beach providing one of the best wild camping areas on Skye

Coral Beach on a sunny and windy day



From the info boards at the car park, go through the gate and follow the wide dirt track as it curves round to the right, leading to the coast. The track runs parallel to the coast for a short while then climbs gently to a rise and a gap in a wall. From here, you’ll get your first glimpse of the white coral beach up ahead. Descend and follow the grassy trail around the coastline to the beach. Be sure to climb the hillock at the northern end of the beach for even better views. Return the same way to the car park.

ORONSAY ISLAND

  • Easy walk, TIDAL (only accessible during low tide)
  • 1.5 km one way to eastern side of island / 30 min / + 25 m, – 32 m
  • 4.6 km return circuit / 2 hours / + 145 m, – 145 m
  • Numerous possible camp spots across the grassy island, with area on the eastern side the flattest
  • Car parking area at Ullinish road end (free) for approx 3 – 4 cars
  • No public transport to trailhead; closest access 15 km away at Lonmore (Stagecoach Bus 56/56X) or 16 km away at Glendrynoch Junction (A MacDonald bus 607/608)

Another short walk with the possibility for wild camping on Skye is the tidal island of Oronsay, on the west coast near Ullinish. Be sure to check the tides in advance and plan your crossings accordingly. The rocky causeway linking Oronsay and Skye is covered for 2 – 3 hours either side of high tide – aim to cross on a falling tide to give you the greatest amount of time on the island. The surrounding scenery is wonderful, with the grassy slopes on the western side great for wandering and taking in the views. The lower eastern side is flatter, with numerous possible spots for wild camping – just remember the island is exposed and cut off at high tide, so check the forecast before venturing here to camp.

From the small parking area at the Ullinish road end, pass through the gate marked by the brown ‘Footpath to Oronsay’ signpost and follow the path heading south. You’ll reach the coast then climb gently over a small hill before dropping down to the rocky causeway (exposed at low tide) which links Ullinish Point to Oronsay.

You can make a loop around Oronsay on grassy trails, the high point being around 50 metres above sea level. Cliffs are found on the far side of the island and interesting rock formations, including geos (narrow inlets), can be seen along the southeastern coastline. Follow the same route back to return to the parking area.

PLAN A TRIP TO THE ORKNEY ISLANDS

RAASAY BOTHY (TAIGH THORMOID DHUIBH)


The long and narrow island of Raasay is sandwiched between Skye’s northeastern coast and the Applecross Peninsula on the Scottish mainland. It is just a short hop away from Sconser on the east coast of Skye, via CalMac car ferry.

About as far as you can get from the ferry terminal and island hub of Inverarish, the remote bothy of Taigh Thormoid Dhuibh lies surrounded by spectacular scenery at the northern tip of Raasay. Venturing here involves a fairly challenging hike from the road end at Arnish, and with the terrain hilly and boggy, it’s an adventure best suited to experienced hikers. An overnight stay at the bothy is recommended, but if you catch an early ferry it’s possible to complete the hike and take the ferry back to Skye in one day. The hike can be varied slightly on the outward and return journey by combining the most direct route with an alternate route via the coastline overlooking Fladda.

RAASAY FERRY TERMINAL TO ARNISH

From the ferry terminal on Raasay drive (or cycle) north on the ‘main’ road, enjoying fantastic views of the Trotternish Ridge across the water to your left. The road eventually heads east and joins Calum’s Road at Brochel for the final 2.7 km. This road was constructed by hand over a decade in the 1960s and 70s by Arnish resident Calum MacLeod. It was an arduous undertaking prompted by the repeated refusal of the council to build a road connecting the tiny community of Arnish to the south of Raasay. The council adopted the single track road in the 1980s and it is now topped with tarmac. There is a small car parking area at the road end. If you’re interested in the story and the history of Raasay in general, Roger Hutchinson has written a fantastic book about it called Calum’s Road and written online about it too.

ARNISH TO RAASAY BOTHY

Turn left just beyond the car parking area, heading downhill towards the water and following the path round to the right through a lovely section of birchwood. After less than a kilometre you’ll reach the whitewashed old schoolhouse and a fork in the trail. The most direct route to the bothy is via the right fork. The alternate route via Fladda follows the left fork.

Take the right fork, climbing 120 metres over the next kilometre. The trail levels out briefly as you traverse a boggy section below Meall Dearg, where you’ll reach a wooden signpost marking the other end of the Fladda trail, to the left. Continue straight, climbing the rocky trail to reach a saddle and the highpoint of the route at 194 m. From the saddle the trail continues downhill, curving around the hillside to the left to reach a narrow, steep, and very rocky section which can be slippery and requires care. The remaining 2.5 km is mostly downhill, heading north across moorland with many boggy sections. You’ll pass derelict croft houses and some fenced areas with gates. Soon after passing these, look for a side trail up to the right; the green-roofed bothy is hidden behind a rise and is easy to miss from the main trail.

Hiking through the rocky hills of northern Raasay enroute to the bothy



Hiking through the rocky hills of
northern Raasay enroute to the bothy



TAIGH THORMOID DHUIBH (RAASAY) BOTHY

‘Black Norman’s House’ was one of a number of homesteads in a local crofting community that endured well into the 20th century. While the crumbling ruins of other homes and sheilings were left to dot the surrounding hillsides, Taigh Thormoid Dhuibh was renovated in 1995 and has been maintained as an open bothy ever since.

Inside there is just one room. As you enter, a raised wooden sleeping platform with space for about six people lies to the right, while a table, benches, and an open fireplace are found on the left. A couple of windows and a clear section of roof let light into the otherwise dark, stone-walled room.

As is usually the case with bothies, there is no electricity, running water, or toilet. There is a spade provided for going to the toilet outdoors (please ensure you follow responsible practices). There is also a natural spring nearby, although it’s possible this can run dry at certain times of year so you may want to carry water in with you. You’ll need to bring your own fuel for the fire, too.

Raasay bothy (Taigh Thormoid Dhuibh), an old stone cottage in a picturesque and secluded setting at the northern tip of the island

Raasay bothy (Taigh Thormoid Dhuibh) in a picturesque and secluded setting



Raasay bothy (Taigh Thormoid Dhuibh), an old stone cottage in a picturesque and secluded setting at the northern tip of the island

Raasay bothy (Taigh Thormoid Dhuibh)
in a picturesque and secluded setting



RAASAY BOTHY TO ARNISH (via Fladda)

The return route follows the same trail for the first 4.1 km, then takes the right fork at the signpost for Fladda before rejoining the trail after a further 2.5 km, at the whitewashed schoolhouse. This alternative route is highly recommended for its beautiful coastal views.

A well-worn wooden sign points the way to both Fladda and Torran on the Isle of Raasay<