10 Gorgeous Walks to Take on the Isle of Skye

The magical beauty of the Isle of Skye can be enjoyed on a number of walks
The magical beauty of the Isle of Skye can be enjoyed on a number of walks | © Mick Sharp / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alexander Crow
30 September 2020

On the Isle of Skye, there’s no shortage of natural and man-made wonders to discover. 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 10 of the most magical Isle of Skye walks for you to take.

Camasunary

Park, Natural Feature
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camasunary strathaird walker path trail rambler
© allan wright / Alamy Stock Photo
This Camasunary trail takes you to the bothy at Camasunary Bay and then provides some outstanding views of the Cuillin mountains. Beginning on the road between Elgol and Broadford, you can follow the gravel path towards Camasunary and head for the sea and mountain views. The bothy itself is operated and run by the Mountain Bothies Association, and you have the option of staying there overnight if you’re looking to extend your stay in the wilderness. In total, the walk should take around two and a half to three hours, depending on skill level, although with the views on offer, you’ll probably want to stop to take a photo break along the way.

Fairy Pools

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Following along the River Brittle, the 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 is suited for all skill levels and is a great choice for a family hike. If it’s a relatively warm day and you’re feeling brave, you can always bring your swimming costume and take a plunge into one of the pools. With their clear, cool waters and vibrant colours, it’s easy to see why the pools have become so well known.

The Coral Beach, Claigan

Natural Feature
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Skye is home to some beautiful natural views, but it’s not well known for its 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. You can extend your walk along the beach to the picturesque Dunvegan Castle, which is well worth a visit on its own. As it’s a short walk across some farmland and along the beach, the walk itself is 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

Natural Feature
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Lighthouse an active light house, west coast coastal scenery located on the Oronsay tidal island in the Isle of Skye. Inner Hebrides,  Scotland, UK. Image shot 04/2009. Exact date unknown.
© MediaWorldImages / Alamy Stock Photo
Taking its name from 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 a plethora of stunning views all on offer. As you’re walking around the island, make sure to 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, make sure you bring plenty of supplies.

Boreraig

Natural Feature
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There are places in Scotland where the past seems very close behind us, and the haunting ruins of Boreraig are just one such example. Home to one of the darker moments in Scotland’s past, this walk will take you through the ruined settlements and present a unique insight into the area’s history. The route itself is a loop that starts and ends at Kilchrist, on the road between Broadford and Torrin. The trail running through the valley is surrounded by woodland, composed of trees native to Skye, planted to increase the area’s substantial wildlife. The ruins of Boreraig themselves now offer a beautiful spot to sit and take stock as you look upon where the burn (stream) meets the shore as a pretty waterfall.

Macleod's Maidens

Natural Feature
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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

Natural Feature
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View over Loch Scavaig towards the Island of Rum from the summit of Sgurr na Stri on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
© Stewart Smith / Alamy Stock Photo
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 is definitely one of the more strenuous on the list, so it should only be undertaken by slightly 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 always best to be prepared with the appropriate clothing and footwear before undertaking the trail.

The Old Man of Storr

Historical Landmark
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One of the essential walks on this list and one of the most popular as well, the route takes you past “The Old Man”, a pinnacle of rock that can be seen for miles around the surrounding area. The trail itself is 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, the views across to the island of Raasay and the mainland of Scotland are beyond stunning. This fascinating landscape was actually formed some 60 million years ago as a result of a vast landslide, which has left the towering cliffs and jagged rock faces that we see today.

Dunvegan Head

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On a clear and sunny day, the trail down to Dunvegan Head offers unparalleled views out to Uist and is an essential stop for anyone visiting Skye. That being said, the route itself is probably not best suited for adverse weather conditions, as the route takes you along cliffs that are unfenced and lacking warnings, which is a dangerous proposition on a misty day. Outside of the breathtaking views from the impressive cliff faces, the area offers a rare chance to see the native sea eagles gliding along on the thermals caused by the outcrop of rock. If you head to the northernmost point of this peninsula, you’ll be able to 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 Quiraing

Natural Feature
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The Quiraing in the Isle of Skye, Scotland
© fallbrook / Getty Images
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 guests some unique photo opportunities, especially on misty days, as it adds an eerie and strange feeling to the area. For any film fans, the area may look familiar, as it has been featured in several films including Stardust and Snow White and the Huntsman.

Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham

These recommendations were updated on September 30, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.