After months of discussing then weeks of planning and preparing, the day for Jack and I to start the Skye Trail finally came. It had started out as just an off the cuff idea when Jack insisted he was going to do the West Highland Way this summer. I liked the idea of it as I had never gotten round to doing the whole walk even though I have walked and cycled on and around many parts over the years. The only downside to it though was how busy it was as I longed for a week to get away from it all, to explore places I have never been before and the Skye Trail seemed the perfect long distance walk to meet both our needs.
The road up north from Stirling was extremely busy. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that we were travelling on a bank holiday weekend but the further north we got the quieter the roads became. This was even more evident when we decided to take the Mam Ratagan pass to Glenelg to get the ferry to Kylerhea on the east coast of Skye instead of taking the Skye Bridge. The traffic had almost thinned out entirely by this point so we could stop and admire the views in the peace and quiet we wanted.
My gran’s family is from Glenelg so it was as special as always getting to pass through again for the first time in a few years. I absolutely adore Glenelg and just driving through the village brought back great childhood memories of visiting there on my summer holidays with all the family. We also got to visit the Glenelg Brochs while there. Dun Telve and Dun Troddan are 2,000 year old stone towers set in the nearby beautiful Gleann Beag which are freely open to stand inside and walk around the remains of. These impressive structures never cease to amaze me and I would advise anyone travelling near Glenelg to take a detour through to see them.
After visiting the brochs, we drove back up the road towards Glenelg to get the ferry ‘over the sea to Skye’. Not before stopping at Glenelg Bay for a short rest and to enjoy the peaceful scenery. As we arrived at the ferry, it had just left moments before but that gave us some time to wander around the area on foot and enjoy the views while snapping a couple of photographs.
The midges were out in full force as we crossed on the ferry but thankfully the journey is short so we were soon setting foot on the Isle of Skye finally. This was Jacks first time so far north so every mile we went further north, the more amazed he was by the scenery. Having been to Skye plenty times as a child and just a few years ago for a hillwalking trip, it was familiar as always. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t amazed too though. I doubt I’ll ever tire of the views when in Skye.
Parking up in Portree, we were amazed by the scenery and great day we had travelling up but also getting more and more excited about the week ahead. We kept an eye out for places we would pass on foot later on such as the campsite at Sligachan we planned to stay at a few days later and some of the river crossings we could also see from a far on the road. We were very generously picked up by family friends, Margaret and Bubbs in Portree and given a lift to the starting point near Duntulm at the north of the island. I don’t get to see them often anymore so it was great to catch up in the car and calm any nerves we had about the week ahead.
After a few mishaps such as wrestling with the lock on the boot of the car which I managed to get my bag strap caught on and subsequently cut free with my trusty Hunstman Swiss Army Knife then fighting off another ravenous plague of midges, we had finally started our great adventure on the Skye Trail. We were only walking a mile or so on this first stint to reach The Lookout bothy which sits proudly above the cliffs of Rubha Hunish at the most northerly point of the island.
We arrived at the bothy to find four other people already there. Two Czech girls who had just completed the Skye Trail in reverse, starting from Broadford and walking north, as well as a Spanish couple who seemed to just be out for a wander for the night. We dumped our heavy bags which were already starting to weigh us down and scrambled down the steep rocks to the headland down at sea level. The sun was beginning to set and there were many birds around along with the odd seal popping their heads up every so often.
Not wanting to miss the sunset from the cliff top, we quickly clambered back up to enjoy the bright colours on show for the evening looking out to Lewis and Harris. It really was a special experience. The colours, the rugged coastal terrain around us and the thoughts and excitement of the challenge ahead made it a night I’ll never forget.
Although we only travelled a few miles on foot, the early start and drive up from Stirling had tired us out so an early night was on the cards. We would need it to prepare us for the week ahead and whatever the misty isle was going to throw our way.