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Is the Skye Trail the Best Walk in Britain?

Even if you've never been to Scotland, you've probably seen the Isle of Skye. Images of the the misty isle grace the pages of almost every calendar, travel guide and postcard of Scotland. Barely a year goes by without a Hollywood blockbuster featuring the Quiraing or the Old Man of Storr as a backdrop to add some much needed drama to an ailing plot. It is, quite simply, stunning.

So what could be better than a walking trail which links up many of the scenic highlights on Skye?

Established in 2014 - the 80 mile long Skye Trail takes seven days to snake its way down from the far north of Skye to the south. This summer I made the journey up to the quiet village of Flodigarry at the top end of Skye, basking in glorious summer sun (it happens occasionally!), looking forward to a fantastic week of walking. It didn't disappoint.

I won't get bogged down in a detailed day-by-day description of the route (you can read one here if you're keen to know more). Instead here are my personal highlights of the trip -

1. The Best Views in the British Isles

In years of walking in Britain, I've never clapped eyes on such a stunning view as the Black Cuillin mountains across Loch Scavaig, on the Sligachan to Elgol stage. The strange rock formations of the Quiraing and Trotternish Ridge are alien-like, just as striking when wreathed in mist as in sunlight. I took enough photos here to keep my screensaver going for a lifetime.

 

2. Getting off the Beaten Track

The trail does a great job of straying from the tourist hotspots of Skye. I loved strolling through the quiet villages like The Braes and Glasnakille, passing nobody but locals along the way. There were remote coastal stretches such as the Storr to Portree where I didn't pass a soul all day, so I had the sea and mountains to myself.

 

3. Wonderful Places to Stay

The trail gave me the chance to experience wonderful accommodations like Seabound B&B in Flodigarry and Rowan Cottage B&B in Glasnakille - both in quiet, rural settings. My hosts were always hospitable and keen to tell me more about the area, not to mention the tea and cake ...

 

4. Food, Drink and Culture

In the busy little village of Portree I had the most fantastic pot of mussels, overlooking the harbour where they'd been brought ashore. Round the corner is the Isles Inn where I had a pint of Skye Gold ale whilst a local folk band entertained with accordions. And the renowned whisky selection at Seamus Bar in the Sligachan Hotel was too much for me to resist - they have over 300 different single malts on offer, and I made a valient attempt to dent their stock.

 

5. The Challenge

There's no doubt about it, I found the Skye Trail challenging. It is (as yet) completely un-waymarked, and much of the trail doesn’t even follow a path. One day in particular - Flodigarry to The Storr - is a sizeable 17.5 miles / 28.5 km. So I experienced a few wet boots, got a little lost, and finished the day exhausted. But that just made completion of the trail all the more satisfying. I was proud to complete each day, and even prouder to finish the whole thing.

In short, I LOVED the Skye Trail, and would walk the whole thing again at the drop of a hat.

James Fathers

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