Five of the best walks in Isle of Skye
Skye is understandably lauded as one of the best places to visit in Scotland. The scenery is simply stunning, with a crisp clarity to the air and a richness to the light that makes sunsets spectacular and turn any rise in the ground into a gorgeous viewpoint. It’s a hiker’s paradise and we’ve picked out a few routes you should definitely explore next time you make the trip north.
You’ll probably find the opening section of this route thronged with a fair few people, but pushing on a little further takes you to one of the best walks on the Isle of Skye, a lesser travelled path that requires a little more energy and will definitely make you glad you’ve got proper footwear. The circuit starts from the crest of the road that runs between Staffin and Uig. From here you’ll wind between the eponymous cliffs, past the pyramidal peak known as The Prison and the lonely rock formation of The Needle to find yourself looking down pinnacle rocks and shining seas. The second half of the loop has some rocky scrambling and lands you back down at the road through a boggy squelch of marshy ground, but it’s well worth the time and effort.
Stay at: The Lookout, a light-filled haven for two overlooking Skye’s beautiful coastline. Tranquil sea views, contemporary interiors and wonderful walks await.
Skye fairy pools
This might be one of the most famous places on Skye, but that’s only because it’s absolutely beautiful if you catch in the right light. Depending on the season, the sun can take a while to come out from behind the surrounding hills, so don’t worry about making an early trip, because the joy of the pools is the sparkling chain they thread down the slope. The paths alongside the pools are well worn but narrow and with a couple of small bridges. It’s not a place for pushing a baby buggy if you’ve got one with you, but you can leave the hiking sticks in the car. You can also bring you swimming gear too. Access isn’t easy, but don’t be surprised to see people splashing about in the pools as you walk. You can also extend this route and take in the other Cuillin corries, again leaving the crowds behind you.
Stay at: Mungo’s Den, a friendly, quirky little bolthole, great for couples or small families after fresh air and big skies. Epic walks and long beaches await.
Birds and marshes from Portree
While it’s tempting to hug the coast and keep the sea in sight at all times, this slightly more inland route can add a bit of variety to your walking on Skye, although you do still end up with some fabulous coastal views. It starts from the Aros centre, an exhibition venue which is worth a look in its own right, as well as having a restaurant and cafe where you can fuel up or refresh. After setting out you climb through the shade of a tall pine forest before emerging to views of the bay below. After a gentle descent you find yourself walking along beside salt marshes which are great for bird watching with many waders and even sea eagles common sights in the area. Finally you follow the shore home, finishing with some of the classic coastline that no walk on Skye is complete without.
Stay at: Viewfield House Hotel, a fine old house packed with grand old things above Portree Bay in the middle of Skye – homely bedrooms, some huge, are a treat.
Old Man of Storr
If you’re visiting Skye for the first time, you’ll almost certainly want to take in the sight of the Old Man of Storr, on the north east corner of the island. This is another spot that can be crowded in peak season, but while many walk to the distinctive lonely column and straight back down, there’s a longer route that takes you up to stand atop the rock face and gives you some of Skye’s most stunning views, out over the isle of Raasay. The path up involves some gully scrambling careful navigation and a tricky descent, but it’s a great way to take in one of Skye’s iconic sights without feeling surrounded.
Stay at: The Cottage Stein, a friendly cottage on the loch shore with luxurious rooms, rain showers and stunning sea views. Superb setting with an abundance of wildlife
The Hoe and Waterstein Head
Heading to the far west of Skye is a great way to lose the crowds. The only really famous spot along the north west coast is Neist Point and while you might be drawn by the lighthouse, it’s a short walk and there are plenty of equally scenic spots for the more intrepid hiker. Turning off the B884 at the Ramasaig signpost, you follow a rough road to park near a small cottage. The trail carries on in the same direction and winds through abandoned villages and fields until eventually you climb onto the cliffs. The going here is easier but blustery, especially when you reach the trig point that is one of the highest points on the Skye coastline. It’s a fabulous wild walk, away from all facilities and maintained footpaths, but all the better for feeling like a true escape into Skye’s raw beauty.
Stay at: The Woodshed, a romantic cottage for two in the Pentland Hills, with views for miles and your own private garden with a wood-fired hot tub.
Places to stay in Isle of Skye
View our collection of places to stay on this beautiful Scottish island. Find cosy bothies, cottages, hotels and more.
Scottish highlands and islands
Deep lochs surrounded by towering mountains, remote islands perfect for switching off and beaches all to yourself, find your next Scottish getaway here.
Slow guide to the West Highlands
Our series of Guides are designed to help you get off the beaten track, explore further and uncover the people, places and experiences that make somewhere unique.