Hello. Welcome to this record of our walk of the Skye Trail, between May 14-21 2016. I wrote out this report, last day first, on the memo app of my smart phone. It seemed very important to get it down as quickly as possible. For seven days, I walked with my younger daughter who is referred to alternatly as ‘The Lambs Sister’*, ‘she’ ‘small’ and sometimes ‘Simone’. She was amazing, throughout, and i am sure that I owe the completion of this odysee to her. Most of the photo’s are hers, and for that too, she has my thanks. Enjoy.
*older sister is a sometime curly-haired angel referred to by us as ‘agnus madre’ or the lamblio.
Day 1 Rubha Hunish to Flodigarry
Weather: good, no rain.
Route/Landscape – 11.5 km: after an early bus out from Portree, I got our first glimpse of some of Skye’s beautiful landscape. I did notice the long line of the ridge; quite long, and Sim slept right through it. When we arrived at Rubha Hunish, we strike off. Looking down and out over the water was blood curdling and breathtaking at the same time (see incidents). Met a nice pair of hikers also doing the trail. They had the full GPS coordinates and maps. My little book (Skye Trail by Webster’s) is looking thin.
Incidents: My luggage was lost the previous day so I started off dressed in some of Sim’s (smaller) gear and my runners. It was just fine. Although we would have liked to get down to Rubha Hunish from the first lookout, the map and instructions did not seem clear to us. So we stayed up and continued along the ridge. Frances discovers she is afraid of heights. Not sure of how or when we were supposed to leave the ridge and cross the field and had some issues getting back on track. Saw some disturbing lamb behaviour.
Day 2 Flodigarry to the Storr
Weather: Not raining (thank frek) not too windy (according to the experts).
Landscape/Route 28.5 km +: There is little I can add to the already extensive descriptions of the beauty of the Trotternish ridge. It is amazing to walk up, to look at from the road and out from its heights. The Quiraing was another revelation. Mordor, Small called it as we wound through, not yet knowing the quest that lay ahead. I should have known, given the length of the drive from one end to the next. I should have waited to find a real map on that first day in Portree and not just relied on Mr. & Mrs. Websters excellent book (Bryan, our saviour, was appalled).
Incidents: The day, towards the end, felt like one continuous incident. Early on along the ridge, I carry the pack of a very worn-out hiker up the final ascent to Ben Eidra. 18 kg. Meet very fit group of gentlemen hiking in the opposite direction, who question if we know what’s ahead (really,quite fit…). We think we do, but it’s twice as many ascents and descents than we were counting on. So eight or nine instead of four, and they were big. Finally arrive at the last peak before Storr and I can’t see the path down off Havergall and off Storr. Start circling Storr, concerned about the time. Small is panicking, I am too, but i believe in the power of mountain rescue. We manage to contact the hostel people, knowing we are late and finally admit that we are wandering around Storr, lost. Bryan from Flodigarry Hostel manages to text us simple to follow advice “go down iñto the corrie off Storr and descend until you see a well-worn path” we had already started back around Storr and were able to follow his instructions; most.beautiful.well-worn.path.EVER. When we can finally see the road, almost an hour later, it’s dark and a car is slowly pulling away from the car park. Simone waves around her phone flashlight and the car stops and turns around. Bless Gavin, our host, for being there. Don’t know how we didn’t start shrieking and crying when we finally got down. Gavin just chatted to us on the way back like everyone almost always gets stranded on the ridge after a daylong feat of unimaginable physical endurance. Once back at the hostel, a stunned Simone plopped herself on the couch and I scrambled for food, finding some comfort in our family roles.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN IMPOSSIBLE HIKE It IS very long and strenuous, and can be managed by people in good physical shape with a few simple changes to the route as described in the Guidebook (still an amazing tool). If you intend to do this hike in one day, it is strongly recommended to do it in the opposite direction, from the Old Man of Storr to just before the Quiraing. It is easier to follow the trail up from Storr than down, and the great majority of the peaks will be at the beginning and not at the end of your hike. As well, you can always add the Quiraing section of the hike to the end of the first day, if you are following the North to South route.
Please note that this is my opinion, and each walker must make their own decision regarding their abilities and endurance.
Day 3 The Storr to Portree
Weather: no rain! Not warm but no rain
Landscape/Route 14 km: A beautiful shoreline ridge walk that was barely one third of the previous day. After crossing a somewhat boggy stretch, the ascent up to the ridge looked much less daunting when we were in front of it. The views to the islands were lovely. But once we reached the trig point, it was a lovely look back across to Portree and the fields around it. We traversed that little agricultural oasis to get to the path that followed the base of Sgur Ruadh into the town. We were wiped at the end but managed to keep the legs going. A frozen pizza supper from the co-op which was on our way to the hostel up from the harbour.
Incidents: Late-ish start After day 2 trauma. Starting off across the moors wet and somewhat confusing. Corrected twice to strike out for ridge (back tracking once, to mount small hillock) than were clear. Small falters, understandable, and I start looking for a way out for her but when we arrive at the first scramble, it is infinitely doable (day after trotternish..). Coming down was unclear at the end; the path on the map looked way too steep, we did a traverse to the right which was still hard but nothing like what was indicated on the map…one more tricky decent and the rest was fine.
Day 4 Portree to Sligachan
Weather: Started off no rain-gets rainy close to end of road, before path along the Slagachen inlet (bay)
Landscape/Route 19km: This is a walk that follows the estuary of the Vargill river, and than a secondary road through some farm land. OK by the river, OK along the road some views out to An Aird and Raasay. The best part was along Loch Sligachan with direct views across to the slopes of Glamaig and it’s good hills
Incidents: just getting down to the water at the start was unclear; bashed through the bushes and we made it. The path along Lock Sligachan was ‘open to interpretation’, but we were wet and somewhat “done” by the time we arrive. Small “not feelin” the bunk house vibe…people are very serious (hiker climber types – with ropes…
Day 5 Sligachan to Elgol
Weather: Started somewhat drizzly but ended up sunny.
Landscape/Route 18 km: The first part of our day we were walking through Glen Sligachen in between the red and black Cuillens. Immense mountain chains, craggy peaks and summits that were not easily visible in the mist at the beginning of the walk. After emerging from the glen, the second half was a strange eroded pathway perched just at the edge of straight drops into the bay…Cut to scardy cat styling by Frances, saved by Small. Arrived into tiny town of Elgol in time for the first bus! Amazing considering the extra 45 minutes spent to correct our path. Met two german couples, older (not older than me…), who were doing the trail in reverse.
Incidents: Alot of path mess so hopping up añd down and over – full soaker early on in the walk. Took a path on the right instead of left right at the outset and it may have dragged us off our mark till we were on the other side of the glen and about to go up a hill when I spotted the first loch…way on the left…had to cross much bog and streams; Simone had to go barefoot to avoid getting wet over the small but deep burn. Also trouble finding the path once at the bay…had to scootch down off a little cliff after spotting a definite track.
Day 6 Elgol to Torrin
Weather: started clear ended up raining.
Landscape/route 16.5 km: The walk started in Elgol along a very small road through rural land to the coast. Along a road/ track following the coast through some soft green inhabited landscape; farms and cottages of a whole different texture. We turned back and left the coast along an actual road, past Kilmarie and lovely old grave yard. We returned along main road, cuttiņg off and following beside some forestry. Cut across to a second forestry and the walking was very boggy. When we finally arrived into the second forestry Sim was wet and uncomfortable…and wanted to go back. The path through was actually reasonable and at its end, we actually got to escape inside a warm car and catch a lift with a police officer because of a road closure for filming (secret volvo commercial). Delicious coffee, apple and fudge cake and carrot coriander soup and hot chocolate for Small and I at the marvelous Blue Shed cafe. Bus back and a power shop at the coop for dinner and lunch stuff. Met a young french couple who were on a five day skye trail ramble, carrying, one day behind us.
Incidents: Road closure because of filming. Boggy walking up through forestry añd across to second forestry. Couldn’t eat cuz too wet and cold. This might be the day that Small’s iPhone died, sitting in the outer pocket of her rain jacket. lost a whole wack of pictures.
Day 7 Torrin to Broadford
Weather: a rainy patch after 1st hour than the sun won!
Landscape 20 km: The route starts at the beauteous Blue Shed Café, and we walk along the road, beside the impressive Ben na Caillich, and the routes last view of the Cuilin. Turning into rolling agricultural land we come around to the coast and follow it down and around Rubha Suisnish. The route takes us through two cleared settlements, walking just above and below some small ridges. At the second of the two, Boreraig, we cut across and begin moving inland through a high rolling landscape, past a quarry and then down along a former quarry rail bed almost all the way to Broadford. A dram was drunk with an espresso chaser, in honour of our feat (and feet and trotternish thighs).
Incidents: one minor off course that we were aware of leaving Boreraig to head inland. Maybe a longer deviation walking higher than intended after we rounded Ruha Suisnish, but there were no consequences. Must get that café in Broadford to offer a ‘Skye Trail Finishers Special’ although there was nothing wrong with mine!