There’s no shortage of natural and man-made wonders to discover on the Isle of Skye. From the bracing clifftops of Macleod’s Maidens to the fascinating rock formation at Dunvegan Head, there’s plenty to explore on your next trip to this Scottish island. That’s why we’ve rounded up the most magical Isle of Skye walks for you to take.
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Following the River Brittle, this trail will lead you to the mysterious and beguiling Fairy Pools. At the foot of the Black Cuillin mountains, the route itself is not an overly challenging one, so it’s suitable for all skill levels and a great choice for a family hike. If it’s a relatively warm day (and you’re feeling brave) bring your swimming costume and take a plunge into one of the pools. With clear, cool waters and vibrant colours, it’s easy to see why the pools have become so well known.
The Coral Beach, Claigan
Skye is home to some beautiful natural views, but it’s not well known for white sandy beaches. The coral beach at Claigan, just north of Dunvegan, is a notable exception, however, and well worth discovering on a brisk walk. Extend your walk along the beach to the picturesque Dunvegan Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland. It’s a short walk across farmland and beach, so suitable for all ages. On a bright sunny day, Claigan Beach would look much more at home in the tropics than in the northernmost regions of Scotland.
Oronsay Tidal Island
Named for the Old Norse for tidal island, Oronsay offers plenty to see and discover. This little uninhabited island is just a gentle walk from the end of the public road down to Ullinish Point on the Isle of Skye; when the tide is out, you can walk straight across to Oronsay. For such a small island, it has plenty to explore, with archaeological finds, sea caves and lots of beautiful views on offer. As you’re walking around the island, keep an eye on the tide so you don’t get trapped for the evening – unless that’s part of the adventure, in which case, bring plenty of supplies.
This walk takes you through the ruined Boreraig settlements – the site of one of the darker moments in Scotland’s past. It’s a loop that starts and ends at Kilchrist, on the road between Broadford and Torrin. The trail runs through a valley surrounded by a woodland of native Skye trees, planted to increase the wildlife in the area. The Boreraig ruins now offer a beautiful spot to sit and take stock as you see the burn (stream) meet the shore as a pretty waterfall.
This walk begins at Orbost Farm and follows a well-defined path to the three sea stacks known as Macleod’s Maidens. One of the longer walks on the list, the path itself is not overly difficult but filled with the features that make Skye so interesting to visit. The stacks themselves, known locally as the mother and her two daughters, are best viewed from the side, rather than above from the cliffs. The clifftop path itself requires care, especially if you’re walking with younger ones or animals. It returns in a loop, and the switch in direction means plenty more interesting views, with picturesque scenes of the nearby cliffs, the sea and newly planted woodland.
Sgùrr na Stri
The Cuillin mountains are composed of the Black Cuillin and the Red Cuillin, with Glen Sligachan, where this walk starts, being the lowland that divides the two. The walk itself should only be taken by more experienced hikers, but the views from the top of Sgùrr na Stri – Gaelic for Mountain of Strife – are some of the best on the isle. As this walk is not a technical ascent, less skilled walkers can also reach the summit, without many of the associated risks. That being said, it’s best to wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
The Old Man of Storr
One of the most popular walks on this list, the route takes you past the Old Man, a pinnacle of rock that can be seen for miles. The trail travels along a well-maintained path and is suitable for all skill and fitness levels. Once you’ve reached the top of the Storr, the highest point on the Trotternish Ridge, you’ll be rewarded with views across to the island of Raasay and the mainland of Scotland. This fascinating landscape was actually formed some 60m years ago as a result of a vast landslide, which has left the towering cliffs and jagged rock faces that we see today.
On a clear day, the trail down to Dunvegan Head offers unparalleled views out to Uist. However, the route is not best suited for adverse weather conditions, as it takes you along cliffs that are unfenced and lacking warnings – a dangerous proposition on a misty day. Outside of the breath-taking views from the impressive cliff faces, the area offers a rare chance to see native sea eagles gliding on thermals created by the outcrop of rock. If you head to the northernmost point of this peninsula, you can see the strange rock formation known as the Giant (Am Famhair), a bold rock arch that lies a little way off into the sea edge.
The otherworldly landscape formed by the Trotternish landslip has created incredible views, as well as sudden and surprising plateaux, and is home to an abundance of rare and interesting wildlife. The Quiraing itself offers unique photo opportunities, especially when mist adds an eerie look. For film fans, the area may look familiar as it has been featured in several films including Stardust (2007) and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012).
Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham
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