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Skye Trail - Hiking in Scotland

The "Skye Trail" is a popular long-distance hiking trail on remote paths. It leads through the rugged Scottish highlands of the Skye Peninsula. You cross the hills of the Trotternish Ridge and walk past the Quiraing Rock and along numerous coastal cliffs. A beautiful, panoramic and mostly foggy hike awaits you in Scotland. I found the tour terrific. Chapeau!

Skye Trail

Content

1. Journey

2. Route

3. Accommodation

4. Weather and best time to travel

5. Further information

6. Recommended stages

7. Packing list

8. GPX and map information

9. Conclusion


General: Isle of Skye, also called the Isle of Mist, is the largest of the Inner Hebrides and lies just off the west coast of mainland Scotland. Connected by bridge to Scotland's north-west coast, the Isle of Skye is characterised by its rugged landscape, picturesque fishing villages and medieval castles. It is also home to a famous whisky distillery called Talisker. The coastline is carved by peninsulas and narrow lochs that stretch from the mountainous interior, to the sea. The extremely idyllic town of Portree, with its picturesque harbour, inviting pubs and small shops, is a good starting point for exploring the island. Let your adventure begin!


As always, I recommend my video of the tour:

Getting there

Fly: It's best to take a flight to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness. From all three cities you can take long-distance buses directly to Portree. My experience is with Edinburgh airport, as it was the best for me in terms of time and price. Besides, I've always wanted to see Edinburgh - it is, after all, the most beautiful city in Europe. At the airport in Edinburgh, take the 100 bus to the city centre, preferably right near Princes St. 126 Edinburgh EH2 4AD.

Tip: There is a Mountain Warehouse where you can buy a gas cartridge. Please call in advance to check opening hours and stock levels.


Bus: The Edinburgh Bus Station (Megabus, Citylink) is just a few minutes' walk from the Mountain Warehouse. From there, take the bus to Inverness.

Tip: Check the price when buying your ticket, you might get an Explorer discount. I was well advised at the information desk and saved a little money.

Skye trail hiking

From the bus station in Inverness you can go straight on to Portree. You only have to change buses. On the bus ride to Portree you pass by the legendary Loch Ness, which I was really happy about. Walking around Loch Ness made me reminisce a bit about my childhood. I can still remember all the great stories about "Nessi". You will also see many impressive castles and fortresses along the way. So keep your eyes open, it's worth it!


For your first night in Portree, I can highly recommend the free campsite (Skye Live Campsite). However, there are no sanitary facilities or anything similar. The campsite consists only of a secluded meadow, but you can enjoy the peace and quiet.


If you want to stay in permanent accommodation, you have to expect high costs.

Tip: Book your hotel or hostel early, as they are usually booked up very quickly.

Skye Trail scotland

Route

The "Skye Trail" is 120km long and takes about 5-7 days. I needed five days for the hike, which is very sporty. For the connoisseur, I would recommend 6-7 days. The route follows the Trotternish Ridge, the Black and Red Cuillin, and the coastal cliffs and steep slopes of the Highland Mountains. You'll pass a few places to stop on the way. More on this in the next article!


In general, Scotland has a long tradition of wild camping, but that doesn't mean you can just pitch your tent on private land. Just use common sense and find a campsite where you won't disturb anyone. Oh, and of course, please don't leave any rubbish behind ;) *Data without guarantee, as the legal situation can change*.


Day 1: The beautiful morning in the tent began with the soft sounds of birds and the smell of fresh grass. Outside it was still quiet, with only the chirping of crickets and the babbling of the nearby stream. I was preparing for a great day outdoors, enjoying the feeling of freedom and adventure. I hope you have similarly beautiful impressions on your hike. Start your day early and head into the centre of Portree to the bus station. Then take the bus to Duntulm Castle to the red telephone box where the Skye Trail officially starts. You can tell the bus driver that you want to walk the Skye Trail and he will let you off right at the old derelict red phone box. From there you walk along the coast to Flodigarry and then on past Quiraing to Bioda Buidhe.

Skye trail long distance trail

As there is no shade on the entire Skye Trail and you are also permanently exposed to the movement of the air, I recommend my beloved "Piz Buin Mountain" sun cream, as well as my ultra-light sun cap and wind blocker.

"The sun also shines behind the clouds." Quote from Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Wander

Tip: If the weather is good, you can sleep at the top of the hill and watch a brilliant sunset and sunrise. Goosebumps! In bad weather, you should definitely stay at the bottom, if not descend. Observe the correct behaviour during thunderstorms!

isle of skye hiking trails

Day 2: A first look out of the tent and I was greeted by a beautiful blue sky. I crawled out of the tent and breathed in the fresh morning air deeply, enjoying the feeling of freedom and adventure again. After a cup of tea and a small breakfast, I packed my things and prepared for a new day. Now it's time to gather strength for the upcoming climb. It's a sweaty, steady climb up and down the hills, along a magnificent panoramic path. In good weather I would describe it as easy. In bad weather or fog, however, it is difficult. You then have to pay special attention to drop-offs! After the enchanting "Old Man of Storr", the 48 metre high rock needle, your day ends at "Sithean Bhealaich Chumhaing". Enjoy another beautiful sunset there!


Due to the long distance and the sweaty altitude difference, I would like to recommend my ultra-light hiking gear at this point:

I would also like to recommend my beloved Salewa trekking shoes because of the challenging mountain trails:

"Only where you have been on foot have you really been". Quote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
isle of skye hiking trails

Day 3: A morning on the coastal cliff is breathtaking. The morning dew glistens on the leaves and grasses, while the sky is often still covered in a light haze. The sun slowly rose, bathing the horizon in a warm orange and red. You will hear the sound of the sea and the surf on the cliffs and you will be able to smell the salty air. You can enjoy the seclusion and the beauty of nature while standing on the cliff and enjoying the view of the sea and the horizon. After a small breakfast, we started the small descent route to Portree.


Don't forget to take an emergency bivouac with you. It consists of an emergency blanket that is cold-resistant, a whistle and a mini compass. It should be in your rucksack on every hike anyway.

As the old Scottish saying goes: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!"

You should take some time for Portree, it is an incredibly cute coastal village with nice pubs and a beautiful Scottish-Gaelic harbour. There is also a supermarket, which was even open on Sunday. To be on the safe side, you should check the opening hours online.

Tip: I can recommend the Scottish speciality haggis. It consists of the stomach of a sheep, called "paunch", which is filled with heart, liver, lungs, kidney fat from the sheep, onions and oatmeal. To be honest, I had to get over myself a bit to eat it, but in the end it was very tasty :D


The rest of the day you follow the coastal path, enjoying the salty sea air and hopefully good weather. I spent the next night at Sligachan Campsite. However, there are other places along the coast that invite you to camp. So you can also shorten the stage. There is an inviting whisky bar near the campsite. The Sligachan Bridge is an old historic stone bridge built around 1820.

 isle of skye best hiking

Day 4: A thunderstorm surprised me during the night. I thought the world was coming to an end. But thanks to my extremely good tent and my good campsite, it was harmless in the end. So that it doesn't get dicey for you, as already mentioned, observe the correct behaviour during thunderstorms!


In the morning, the air was cool and clean, ideal for the start of a walk. After the historic bridge, you follow the narrow path between the large hills, past the typical Scottish lochs, to Kilmarie. I ended my walking day near the coast.

Caution: Shortly before Elgol there is a rather dangerous spot known as the "Bad Step". However, I avoided the "Bad Step". When wet, this place is very dangerous (danger of falling). If you want to avoid the "Bad Step", just follow my hiking route. I have linked a video of the "Bad Step" in the article below!


Bad Step: However, those who want a bit of a thrill, including heavy luggage, are welcome to cross the "Bad Step" north-west of Elgol. The "Bad Step" is a 10-15m high, extremely exposed passage along the coastal cliff. To reach it, keep to the right at the fork in the road at about kilometre 88. You will then go around the 494m high "Sgurr na Stri" hill.

Tip: Especially before Elgol, there are several route options along the coast. I chose the easiest one for my tour! There are also numerous hill and mountain hikes that are worthwhile.


There were also a striking number of birds, animals and plants in the surrounding area. I then used the rest of the evening for nature observations of all kinds. In. In summer, there is hardly any complete darkness in the far north of Scotland. A last beautiful evening in the great outdoors came to an end!

Bad Step Skye Trail

Day 5: During the night, only the sound of the wind and the sea could be heard. Then in the morning the chirping of the birds. What a great start to the day. After another night in the tent, I felt a tingling in my stomach on the last day and an adventurous spirit took hold of me for the last stage of the Skye Trail. You then walk through the small fishing village of Torrin and on to Broadford, where your journey ends. Just before Broadford, there are the Toren Pools. The Toren Pools are pretty waterfall pools that lie in the shadow of the mountains. Some of them are deep enough to swim in. Actually the perfect activity to end a leisurely day of walking. Afterwards, I treated myself to a room in Broadford.


Broadford is the second largest town on the Isle of Skye and the end point of the Skye Trail. There are some nice restaurants, many B & Bs, a hostel, a few hotels, a bank, a pharmacy and a Coop grocery shop. From there you can catch the Citylink bus to Inverness, Glasgow or Edinburgh.

isle of skye long distance trail

Accommodation

In Portree there is a free campsite (Skye Live Campsite) which I can highly recommend. However, there are no sanitary facilities. The campsite consists only of a secluded meadow, where you can have your peace and quiet.


If you want to change to accommodation, however, you have to expect high costs.

Tip: Book your hotel or hostel early, as they are usually booked up very quickly.


At "Rubha Hunish" there is a hut where you can stay overnight. However, there is no food to buy there. It is just an empty hut that is freely available to hikers. In general, Scotland has a long tradition of wild camping, but that doesn't mean you can just pitch your tent on private land. Just use common sense and find a campsite where you won't disturb anyone. Oh, and of course, please don't leave any rubbish behind ;) *Data without guarantee, as the legal situation can change*.

Weather on the Skye Trail

The Skye Trail is quite challenging in bad weather. The fog can be extremely thick and it can rain an incredible amount. Good equipment is a prerequisite for this tour.


At that time of year there was virtually no complete darkness in the far north of Scotland.


Wetness: If there is a lot of wetness, the tent site should be well chosen to escape the wetness of the ground. I would recommend an additional ultralight groundsheet.

"A Scottish fog soaks an Englishman to the skin"

Fog: When there is a lot of fog, absolute caution is advised over the Trotternish hills, there are some crevices there that can easily be missed. Good GPS navigation skills and careful walking are essential. The entire trail is unmarked, but in good weather it is quite visible due to the well-trodden paths.


Tip: If you have bad weather at the beginning, you can also start in Broadford and just walk the route backwards. Skye has its own weather app, the "Winde App", which I would highly recommend! You can find it under the following link:

skye trail blog

More information about the Skye Trail

Money: Cash and credit cards are available in many places. However, you should not do without cash.


Water: You will almost always find water on the Skye Trail. On the mountains, there is an estimated small stream or water collection every 5km. However, you should always use a water filter The water may be clear, but it can still contain impurities, such as animal excrement or dead animals. However, you can also boil the water.

Surefootedness: To be safe on the trail, sure-footedness and the right footwear are the most important factors - after all, falls due to tripping and slipping are the most common cause of accidents when hiking. So remember: the right footwear and the right walking technique are therefore incredibly important. You are sure to find the right footwear in the article below!


Animals or vermin: Ah yes, and be sure to pack a "Mitschies" head net". The annoying mosquitoes come by the billions at dusk, and I do mean billions. Also make sure that the net is really suitable for keeping out mosquitoes. The holes should not be too small. The pesky creatures are so small that they can get through nets. Unfortunately, this was the case with my head net. Only the net on my expensive Nemo-tent was suitable.

Tip: The tent should also be equipped with a suitable net. Also pack really good waterproof equipment, as it can get very wet under certain circumstances. However, everything gets wet at some point. If this happens, you have to act and take a break if necessary or even abort.


Bus: There are no buses on Sunday. However, there are reasonably priced taxis.


Long-distance hiking trails in Europe: 90 routes, all countries

Wild & adventurous: these are the most beautiful long-distance hiking trails in Europe.


Safety advice

All the safety rules of mountain sports also apply to hiking and trekking! You can find the safety rules in the link below:

the skye trail map

Skye Trail Stages

1) Rubha Hunish (red telephone box) - Floodygarry approx. 11km

2) Flodigarry - Old Man of Storr approx. 24km

3) Old Man of Storr - Portree approx. 15km

4) Portree - Balmeanach approx. 15km

5) Balmeanach - Camasunary approx. 19km

6) Camasunary - Torrin approx. 20km

7) Torrin - Broadford approx. 23km

I walked the tour in 5 days.

For optimal preparation for any tour, I recommend the summit training on my Youtube channel:

Skye Trail Packing list

Here I recommend the most important hiking equipment that I own, have tested myself and have also bought myself. I pay a lot of attention to the weight and quality of my equipment. The equipment should simply feel good on longer tours and also be light. I can recommend the equipment for women because my wife uses it and it is basically the same as the equipment for men.


Note: Please keep in mind that the packing list is general and you will have to adapt it depending on the season and your needs!


Advertising note: These product links are affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, I will receive a small commission without you having to pay more. This is for the maintenance of my blog and you support me with my project, for which I am very grateful. Thank you very much!


Clothes

Hiking boots

Hiking shorts


Long hiking pants


Functional shirt


Hybridjacket


Fleece-jacket


Rain jacket


Functional underwear


Hiking socks


Other hiking equipment:

Sun cap


Hiking backback (approx. 60 litres or as required)

by EXPED - unfortunately not available on Amazon.

Backback - Ospray (was my old one and is also good)


Technology and orientation:

Compass

• GPS device or GPS watch if necessary

• Binoculars if necessary


Catering:

• Sweets to keep up morale :)


Health & first Aid:

First Aid (small and light)

Tape

Bivouac

• Toilet paper


Other:

• Passport/Insurance certificate

• cash

• Gas cartridge


Film equipment:

Drone

Tripod

Clip

packing list Skye Trail

Best time to travel

The best time to travel the Skye Trail is from May to August. September and October have their own charm, because by then most tourists have already left the island and the mosquito plague also decreases more and more.


The statistically fewest rainy days per year are in May and June!


GPX and map information (Skye trail map)

The GPX files can be downloaded from my pages at the following providers.


Outdooractive: https://out.ac/3ujyAM




Here is the route on the map (Skye Trail map):

Skye Trail map gpx

Conclusion

The Skye Trail, with its length of almost 130 km, is a fantastic long-distance trail that offers an incredible amount. It shows a cross-section of the rugged Scottish Highlands. I really enjoyed the tour! Have a great time and good luck ;)


As always, I would be very happy to receive feedback via one of my channels.



You are also welcome to leave a comment here.

 
Hikingfex

Hello, I am Christian, the chief globetrotter of this Site and an enthusiastic adventurer, hiker and filmmaker. I love to explore new paths and inspire people with them, and I love to share my hiking knowledge with you! You can also find my videos on YouTube! On my blog you can find tips for beginners and professionals on the greatest and most beautiful hiking tours there are. I want to encourage people to explore the world as a hiker, whether in the countryside, through the forest or in the mountains. True to the motto: If you haven't hiked, you haven't seen the world,


On my blog, I also write about hiking gear, the right summit training and nature conservation, as well as tips and information about hiking.


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