A Walk to Camasunary Bay, Skye

Distance: 9.2km or 5.5 miles return – less to top of the pass.
Time: About 1.5 – 2.5 hours return depending on whether you go down to the bay or stay high.

Difficulty: the last 15 mins of the track head steeply uphill, on a rocky/rubbly surface, requiring a bit of huff and puff! In total you ascend around 180m to this point.

This is a superb walk to the most wonderful wild bay with amazing views over the Black Cuillin.Choose a decent day when the cloud is not down too low. This area is managed by the John Muir Trust.Of Skye’s easiest walks, this is my No.1

Doing it to catch sunset would be even better.

The photos in mostly ‘gold colours, were taken in February.Others, very green, are in June.

The Start

Park at the large lay – by beyond the tiny hamlet of Kilmarie on the Elgol road, a 25 minute or so stunning drive from Broadford. Broadford itself is around 35 mins drive from Portree.The photo of my husband Chris is when we wild camped at the top of the pass in the summer of 2017, so we were carrying in a pile of stuff! (including a bottle of champagne and a BBQ).

Kilmarie set out

The start of the wide, stony track is signposted opposite the lay by beside some bins. Go through the gate and follow the track as it winds its way gradually up to the top of the pass called Am Mam (Gaelic for ‘pass.’ ) There can be puddles on the track and there are several low streams to cross with stepping stones of a kind. It will take 40 – 50 minutes to reach the top, with the most ‘huff and puff’ stage during the last 15 minutes.This last section is VERY stony underfoot.
But all that hard work will be forgotten when the view suddenly opens up ahead.It is, on a clear day, superlative! It takes my breath away every time (and not just from the effort :))

Below,Loch na Creitheach appears, a mystical, lonely lochan with only red deer for companions.It is possible to walk to the loch using the Glen Sligachan ‘path’ (more like a deer track).

Either stay up on the high ground, with lots of soft moorland to sit on and just admire it all, have a picnic or snack and soak it all in (well , not the moorland you’re perched on of course, unless you have forgotten to bring something waterproof to sit on😊)

Rum, one of the Small Isles, sits serenely on the Atlantic ocean.

Or continue another 15 minutes down the track to the bay itself. (It’s about a 200m climb back UP the track of course.)

Skye’s shores can sometimes have a litter problem with fishing gear and other detritus washed up on the beaches, though the John Muir Trust do a sterling job every year of trying to clear the worst of it.But beyond the high water mark areas where litter sometimes despoils the immediate scene, the broad greyish sand beach is a joy to wander, especially at low tide. The surf crashes gently, oyster catchers pipe loudly, curlews call plaintively.Utter peace in incredible surroundings.


There is a new bothy at the eastern end of the bay which anyone can use for shelter or overnight (responsibly – take any litter etc out again.) The old bothy, which you see more clearly at the western end, is now closed up.

The Elgol – Loch Coruisk coastal route crosses the bay, so if brave, it is possible to continue round the rocky coast as far as you wish in either direction following narrowish tracks. It’s rough going and there is a ‘Bad Step’ to negotiate en route to the loch which is for those with a head for heights. I couldn’t do it in a hundred years with my vertigo☹
The bay is also the route up to the top of the rocky 500m hill directly in front of you- Sgurr na Stri – a Black Cuillin outlier and reckoned by many to give Britain’s finest view!

For details on that much longer, harder walk see:A Winter Hike up a Mini Black Cuillin, Skye

A zoomed photo of the Black Cuillin from the high point….

We have wild camped on the grassy sward of the Bay several times,with red deer often appearing at night to drink from the river.
Most spectacularly of all, we camped just off the pass itself last summer and watched the most magnificent sunset over the mountains and ocean.

Camp

Sunset from Am Mam, 11pm, summer.

sunset

It’s difficult to leave Camasunary behind but the walk back out is still with interest as the eye is now drawn to the panorama of mainland mountains ahead (Kintail, Knoydart) which make up a small sample of the North West Highlands and which may have been missed in the ‘head down’ concentration of the walk in!

Once finished, I would recommend driving the very few miles to Elgol to enjoy the superb coastal views to the Cuillin from this tiny harbour.Or do the Loch Coruisk boat trip, even better and which leaves from here.

elgol-pano

The Blue Shed Cafe at Torrin which you will have passed on the road to Kilmarie, is well worth a tea/coffee stop. They do excellent home made cakes and light lunches and the situation is wonderful, looking onto mighty Blaven.

DSC_0940

More walk ideas – MY FAVOURITE SKYE WALKS

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