All walks have something to endear themselves to me, but the Skye Trail was very special. I continuously found myself running out of superlatives and falling back on the old reliable; “fantastic”, “incredible” or “brilliant”. It was all of these things and so much more; it’s just a shame my vocabulary doesn’t meet the mark. I can safely say this has been my favourite long path of any I’ve walked so far. I’ve revisited the Coast to Coast twice and I can feel the Pennine Way calling me again, but as much as I love both those paths, this one beats them both.
The weather had something to do with it of course. I’m sure if it had rained and howled for eight days I would have different feelings for the place, but it didn’t and the weather became the icing on the cake. The local people had something to do with it as well. The island is a small community, but it doesn’t feel insular – you don’t feel like an outsider – you are welcomed almost everywhere with a smile and a cheery greeting. Add to this the fact that the path is very quiet and you have (for me at least) the perfect combination.
I didn’t meet anyone else doing the Skye Trail. Our neighbour at the croft had never heard of the Trail. The lady at the shop in Elgol says she gets a few people every month walking it, but it is still mostly unknown and therefore blissfully quiet. There are sections that are heavily used of course, especially at the top end, around the Quiraing and The Storr. The path into Portree is used as a circular walk from the town so that can be busy but other than that it’s almost completely empty.
In some ways I wish I’d finished the walk in Broadford, a lovely village with all the amenities you need to celebrate the end of the walk and it avoids the hard sections beyond. But in many more ways I’m glad I continued down the Sleat peninsula, despite the rough walking it’s a more complete version of the Trail. Starting or finishing in Broadford doesn’t do justice to the Trail.
If you liked the West Highland Way, but didn’t enjoy walking in convoy along its length, then the Skye Trail could be the walk for you. If you don’t mind a bit of wilderness walking and don’t feel the need to have a path under your feet then definitely give the Skye Trail some thought.
Logistically it’s a difficult walk to complete, there aren’t that many places to stay outside the bigger towns, so having a car and a driver really helps, but it can be done. A combination of hitch-hiking, taxis and buses make it completely do-able. There are dozens of little bus companies running to some very remote locations, so check their schedules before you order a taxi. I found that Google Earth or Google Maps is a good way of checking for a bus service. Look in the village or along the road you’re interested in and keep an eye open for the little bus symbol. Then check the Traveline Scotland website for details on that stop.
One final thought – if you’re going to do it, go south to north! I thought this more than once. The roughest walking is at the start then, you get it out of the way and you give yourself time and distance to train for the tough Trotternish Ridge walk. Heading north you walk with the sun at your back, so your photos will probably come out better. The only downside could be that the mainly northerly winds I experienced on Skye may be in your face more often than not.
I’m happy to answer any questions people may have on the Trail. If you feel inclined, you can leave a comment or question on this page.