The Route

The Trail has been designed so that it is possible to access accommodation from the end of each stage. It would also be suitable as a challenging backpack with formal campsites at Portree and Sligachan and wild camping opportunities such as the Trotternish Ridge and Glen Sligachan. Doing the route as a backpack might require adjusting some of the stages to ensure that suitable camp spots are found. Please ensure you read the Outdoor Access code. Skye weather is notoriously fickle but early summer often gives the most settled weather. Note that in winter the route is not recommended; it would be very challenging indeed, all campsites on the route would be closed, some rivers may be impossible to cross and it would be necessary to have an ice-axe, crampons and the appropriate skills.

A full illustrated guide to the route of the Trail is available on the Skye Trail pages of the Walkhighlands website. The site includes a detailed description of each stage, and has free 1:25 000 Ordnance Survey mapping of the entire route. This page is intended to give further tips for each stage and advice on accommodation and supplies.

Stage 1 - Rubha Hunish to Flodigarry is all on croft land used for grazing so keep any dogs under very tight control. The stage is mostly pathless and runs close to dangerous cliff edges. If wild camping, it is best to push on slightly further at the end to reach at least Loch Langaig on the approach to the Quiraing. The Flodigarry Hostel at the end of Day 1 sells basic food items, otherwise you would need to detour along the A855 to Staffin to buy supplies. There is also the Flodigarry Hotel close by the hostel, which serves bar meals. Description and OS maps

Overview Map

Stage 2 - Trotternish Ridge - this is the longest and toughest stage. The route is very exposed to bad weather and requires good hillwalking skills - there is no path for most of the way. The stage is also very long so you need to be fit and move fairly quickly as there are no easy escape routes - make sure you start early and leave plenty of time to complete the route before darkness, especially as the trickiest navigation is finding the descent route at the end. Ensure you have a torch! In winter conditions the ridge would require ice axe and crampons and would in any case be very difficult to complete in daylight hours due to its length. Wildcamping is possible on the Trotternish ridge, with small springs at several of the bealachs (cols), but in the frequently poor weather the ridge takes the brunt of the often gale-force winds and there are no sheltered areas - so this is a fine weather option only. There is no accommodation at the end of the stage where the route meets the road, but there is a bus service to Portree and Staffin (check the times and make sure you can make it!) or alternatively you may be able to summon a taxi from Portree. You can then use the bus to return to the same point the following morning.Description and OS maps

Stage 3 - Portree coastal route - this is pathless with a steep descent near the end, but is much shorter and easier than the previous stage, so you should have time for a break in Portree at the end. The excellent campsite in Portree can be found just to the north of the village. When the route emerges from Scorrybreck Road onto Staffin Road, turn right and head uphill to the site. Portree has 2 supermarkets and a wide range of places to eat as well as fish and chips. It is possible to pay to have a shower at BB's gym above the Royal Hotel, at the Portree Independent Hostel and at the Swimming Pool at Portree High School at certain times. There are many bed and breakfasts in Portree as well as hotels.Description and OS maps

Stage 4 - The Braes. After a brief hike out of Portree this stage follows a minor road for much of its length. However the Braes is a beautiful part of Skye, with scattered woodland and superb coastal views - and traffic is light. The stage ends by following a rough path along the shores of Loch Sligachan - and the sting in the tail are the river crossings right at the end. Crossing the rivers here is impossible when in spate or after heavy rains so consider this before setting out on this stage. At the end, the campsite at Sligachan is popular with walkers and climbers tackling the Cuillin and is opposite the Sligachan Hotel and Bar which provides accommodation and serves evening meals. There is also a bunkhouse nearby, also run by the Hotel.Description and OS maps

Stage 5 - Glen Sligachan and Elgol. This stage follows a sometimes wet path through wild and dramatic Glen Sligachan. There is an open bothy at Camasunary and it is possible to short cut the stage by following a rough track to Kilmarie from this point; it is also possible to camp wild here or at the foot of a glen further along the route. The final part of the stage follows a narrow and slippery path above vertical cliffs - great care is needed if completing this section as there have been fatal accidents. Immediately around and beyond Elgol is croftland which is generally unsuitable for wild camping. There is a small grocery shop in Elgol as well as a tea shop and bed and breakfast accommodation. Further on, at Glasnakille, there is another bed and breakfast and also wooden wigwams available for rent. Description and OS maps

Stage 6 - Elgol to Torrin - this is another more straightforward stage, though the section past Keppoch is often wet. There are possibilities for discreet wild camping past Keppoch and near the shore before Torrin. The excellent Blue Shed Cafe provides coffee and cake and light meals during the summer months and there is a bed and breakfast nearby, but there is no shop in Torrin.Description and OS maps

Stage 7 - The Cleared Villages, a fascinating walk with a path. Camus Malag, just after Torrin is sometimes used for wild camping and there are more discreet spots later in the walk. Broadford does not have a campsite, although there is a SYHA hostel and plenty of bed and breakfast accommodation. The Waterfront fish & chip shop is highly recommended at the end of the Trail and there are plenty of other good eating options including the Harbour Restaurant, Creelers and the Claymore.Description and OS maps

Hopefully in future the Skye Trail may become an official long distance route. This may enable an extension by adding a final short stage to finish across the Skye bridge for a definite ending. Some walkers choose to extend the walk instead by heading through Sleat to Armadale, but doing this involves a punishing boggy coastal section from Heaste, including a river crossing, and a great deal of road walking afterwards. A final, and possibly better, option is to add another couple of days by heading from Broadford, through Waterloo and Lower Breakish to Tobar Ashlik, then taking the minor road to Kylerhea. From here cross to the mainland via the tiny ferry (summer only) and finish the stage at Glenelg. The final day could then proceed by passing the famous Glenelg brochs and continuing up Gleann Beag to Suardalan and then across to Bealachasan and over the pass to the south of Sgurr Mhic Bharraich to finish at Shiel Bridge - on the main Citilink bus route.