Great Skye Walks – Rubh’ an Dunan

Translating as the Headland of the Fort, this fantastic coastal walk gives incredible views of the Black Cuillin as well as visiting an ancient boat channel carved by the Vikings.The cliff girt headland is crowned with one of the best preserved Duns (1st century BC) – an ancient stone fort – on Skye and must have the finest situation of any such structure in Scotland. A great winter walk too with ever-changing light and a fabulous place for sunsets at any time.

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Rum from near the Dun

Start: end of road at Glen Brittle car park

Time: 4 hours return plus time to explore the Dun and surrounds

Distance: 13km 8.25m

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Glenbrittle beach

We once wild camped out at the Dun, on its grassy platform, 30m above the ocean but most recently we walked out there one sunny January afternoon. There is a path all the way though mid way it can get boggy in places and easily lost in the rough moorland.As long as you keep heading for the Isle of Rum, you’ll get there! However, it can be useful to have a map just to check exactly where you are headed.

The wintry cold air made us wrap up warmly for this walk in the New Year but it was the kind of day I just couldn’t NOT go for a good wander. The start of the walk at Glen Brittle was just beautiful – emerald green fields, the grey sand beach and surf pounding the shore and dominating all, the magnificent Black Cuillin.

Even in summer , once you walk out on the track, this is a very quiet corner of Skye.

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View from Glenbrittle car park 

The path , which is signposted at the start, is very wide and it was mostly dry to start with. We crossed a couple of small rivers, one with a small wooden bridge, the other quite low so not posing any risk of getting wet feet. Boots are best for this walk – or good waterproof shoes.Already there were wonderful views up into the rocky heart of the mountains.

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Black Cuillin from the path

The route initially keeps high above the sea before dropping a little then offering a choice of options close to a drystane dyke wall. We chose the inland route this time, making our way across country, cutting off a bit of a corner of the coast. The coast route can be followed also or used to make a different loop on the way back.

After passing a small ruin, we headed for the obvious large lochan, Loch na h’Airde, which is reached just before the little headland itself.

At the end of loch, we admired a Viking channel, still lined with stone, where they used to drag their boats up for repair most likely. Then a short climb up on sheep track onto the headland where sits the 2,000 year old Dun itself, its sheer size and robustness , despite all the battering by storms and the passing of millennia, so impressive. I love these ancient walls  – they knew how to build in those days! – and the situation is magnificent.

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The Dun on its small headland

 

The Isle of Rum sat to the south, a study in blue in the cold winter light,  its shapely mountains rising almost 3,000 feet out of the ocean.

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Behind us loomed the Cuillin, with rugged moorland slopes dropping steeply into the ocean.

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Coast at Rubh an Dunan

We spent half an hour just sitting around at the Dun, having a snack and enjoying the wild situation.A very difficult place to leave. As it was January, by 3pm the sun was low in the sky and the light became quite incredible, as it often does in winter. I’ve only occasionally seen the Cuillin turn such a colour  – pink and orange; it was almost unreal.Behind us, the Dun became silhouetted against the ocean.

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Rum began to turn a soft lilac……

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The big headland opposite us began to turn a darker amber.Skye and the Highlands take on an amber/orange colour in winter, quite amazing and a huge contrast to summer greens.I really love winter colours here.

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We lingered over that return walk as the sun dropped lower and the western skies turned pastel yellow and pink and eggshell blue.

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It was a glorious end to a wonderful walk, another corner of Skye most visitors never reach, yet which takes such little effort.

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