Geoff Brown decided to tackle the Isle of Skye with partner Alison and their trusty tent, hear how they got on.
Recently retired, we resisted the temptation to spend the best part of £30k on a motorhome and spent a bit under £400 on a new airbeam tent. We dusted off the old camping gear that we had not used for nearly 20 years, packed it in the car with our boots and waterproofs and headed off for Skye – Alison worried about the weather, the midges and where I might lead her – me worried about much the same. We stayed for nine nights in the C&C Club site on the shore of Loch Greshornish were we saw some of the best sunsets ever.
Things we learned about camping on Skye
- Mosquito net on tent – a god-send – midge free inside and you can still see the views and breathe the fresh air
- One pan meals can still taste great
- Skin so Soft goes solid if it is cold in the night
We had done a fair bit of walking over the years and recent appearances of Skye on TV had reminded us that it was beautiful and we had never been there. We only found one walk on the TOG site (Fairy Pools) so we did some extra research. We completed five walks in the nine days we were there:
- The Quiraing – a popular walk along below an imposing ridge and then back over the top in cloud and rain
- Old Man of Storr – a classic tourist path and then bit above on a beautiful sunny day
- Coire Lagan – a longish walk up to a blue tarn with some steep scrambling on a sunny day
- Ben Tianavaig – a smaller hill with views over Portree in mixed weather
- Loch Coruisk – after a boat ride on the Bella Jane with a fabulous blue beach on Loch nan Leachd. It was a windy, chilly day.
Things we learned about walking on Skye
- There is a great variety of walks from easy to extreme
- You can follow some well trodden but stunning tourist paths and then go a little further if you still have the energy and enjoy the solitude
- The weather can be very localised and change very quickly – so be prepared but don’t let showers deter you from setting out
- It is light until very late in the evening so you don’t need to set out early if its not your thing
A little bit more about the walks:
The Quiraing is a famous ‘high cliff’ with an easier popular walk below and the option to return to the car park over the top. On the day we went it was cloud and drizzle all day so we got a few moody views on the way out but the walk on the top was mainly in the mist.
The Old Man of Storr was very busy but the views were spectacular. We walked up some very busy paths to the viewpoint above the Old Man and found a quiet detour on the way down. The climb beyond the Old Man to the viewpoint is worth it if you have the time and energy. Take a small picnic so you can have a nice rest at the top.
Coire Lagan was as close as we got to the famous Cuillin Ridge. It took us about six hours in all as we walk slowly and do like refreshment stops. There is a gully where you need to use your hands so you feel you have done some mountaineering. The tarn in thr Coire is magical, a beautiful blue and surrounded by imposing peaks. We spent a happy half hour watching people picking their way down the scree slopes above.
Ben Tianavaig – a smaller hill with views over Portree – this was a shorter walk which starts from a beautiful bay. Great views in every direction as you near the top – plus the chance to get one of those pics that looks like you are on top of the world.
Loch Coruisk – you can get a boat from Elgol to Loch Coruisk which saves a long walk. Boats go to and from during the day so you can stay between one and six hours depending upon what you want to do. We decided we were a bit too tired to go for a summit and there was cloud on the top so we went looking for a sheltered beach and were rewarded with the bluest sea we have seen for ages on Loch nan Leachd.
Other highlights were – fish and chips on the harbour wall in Portree, Ceilidh in the Portree Shinty Club (with no caller :o), Coral Beech, Dunvegan Castle, the real croft in the Skye Museum of Island Life, last night gastronomic extravaganza at The Three Chimneys.