With a glorious day on the cards in late June, the plan was to hike more of the South Glenshiel ridge.However, with 27C forecast, a hill walk can be exhausting plus I am so drawn to the sea in that kind of weather, that plans were changed quickly and off we headed from our base near Plockton, to one of our favourite places in Scotland – the Isle of Skye’s Camasunary Bay.
We set off quite early and arrived at the parking area beyond Kilmarie on the Elgol road, with several cars already there. Given it was only 8.30am or so, we reckoned they were people who had walked in the night before to stay at the brand new Bothy on the shore (we were right as it turned out.)
Got our day packs filled with plenty of water and some made up sandwiches and snacks, then set off on the 45 minute or so walk to the top of the hill pass, a fairly easy hike on a stony track.It was already hot!
We could see the outline of Blaven, one of Skye’s finest mountains, peeking up above the moorland and the sharper notch of Gars Bheinn, another one of the famed Black Cuillin range.
I really felt as if it had been a hectic few weeks, with my youngest son soon to be married and he and his fiancee re-locating from Edinburgh to the Black Isle, lots of hill walking getting done, other family stuff and general whirling about. Suddenly, I felt as if I had hit a bit of a brick wall.I really didn’t want to do a hard walk, or face something challenging – wandering about a beach was far more appealing, or at least just taking things easier and not pushing ourselves so hard physically.
I think our fitness has improved however with all the hills we’ve been haring up, as the walk up to the top of the pass seemed easier than normal, though it might just have been my general sense of relief at binning the Ridge walk.
As ever, the views from the top (which is only about 180m in height) were so beautiful as to be almost beyond words.I will never ever tire of that view over the Cuillin’s jagged peaks with the emerald sward of the bay below.
On the horizon, the lilac blue outline of Rum and Canna.
The only sound were skylarks singing their hearts out above us, enjoying the warmth as much as we were.And those moorland scents – the wild grasses and flowers, the aroma of bog myrtle, like eucalyptus. Rarely is the sea around these parts as millpond-like as it was that day.There wasn’t a breath of wind.
We sat and admired it all from a flat rock, Chris reminding me to watch for Adders which love this fine weather too.Our only poisonous snake, they are not aggressive but need watching out for when ploughing through long grass and heather.They are of course much more likely to be aware of our presence and scuttle out of the way, long before we are ever aware of them.
Off we headed down to the bay itself, a 200m or so descent (which always feel much more on the ascent of course.) I was really keen to see the new Bothy so we detoured for a few minutes to check it out.It’s in a fine spot beside the shore and in fact three people were getting themselves ready for a walk when we went in. They’d stayed the night – a woman and a couple – and had watched an otter and cub just an hour before , grooming and rolling themselves on the seaweed. Great to know otters are around – I’ve never seen them here. Had a chat about wildlife on Skye then left them to it.A great place to spend the night – clean, free, nice people – though I have to say I would always prefer our tent for added privacy.It’s a great place to camp, at the beach or perhaps even better, on the hill pass itself.Watching the sun go down over the Cuillin is quite an experience. For more on our wild camp and sunset here:A Walk to Camasunary Bay, Skye
My idea was to cross the river at the far end of the beach and make our way up the rough hillside opposite, just high enough to get views down into Loch Scavaig, where the Elgo boats making for Coruisk moor.There is a track round the coast but I wanted a higher viewpoint to enjoy it all.Chris groaned as he looked at the slope ahead – ‘ I thought you wanted an easy day?’ But it felt easy compared to what we’d planned in Kintail!
The river is awkward to cross though there are stepping stones of a kind a distance upstream.Chris however couldn’t be bothered walking any more than he needed and began crossing quite near the sea.I followed and so began a ridiculous slithering and wobbling as we made our way across the sloppiest, seaweed covered rocks imaginable! Chris nearly went flying at one point but made a spectacular mid-air recovery that resulted in him landing on two feet.63 and 61 years old respectively and still nuts!
We picked up a track on the other side but soon branched off it to follow the easiest line up the moorland. It really only was about 15 – 20 minutes of slog , no path as such but a case of finding the easiest ground. And then we crested the little high point and wow – what a view. We were now on the mid slopes of tiny Sgurr na Stri, at only 500m in height yet known as Britain’s finest viewpoint.(For more on climbing that little hill see Sgurr na Stri and the British Alps, Skye
Garsbheinn is a magnificent looking mountain, the last one on the Black Cuillin ridge and rears out of the sea to over 3,000 feet (900m+). Pyramidal and ancient looking, covered lower down in the boiler plate slabs so characteristic of this mountain range.
We walked out to a little point and sat down to savour the vistas over mountain and moorland, ocean and island.The boats from Elgol were plying back and forward, taking people to the small jetty where they disembark and make their way to wild and rugged Loch Coruisk. To me, that boat trip is one of the finest half days to be experienced on Skye.
Disturbances on the sea surface below looked like dolphins but were more likely to be the big Atlantic Grey seals which inhabit the rocky islets hereabouts.200 or so live on a small islet near Coruisk. The air was so still, we could hear their splashes before we saw them, even from this height and distance.
Chicken Tikka sandwiches never tasted so good! Washed down with some sparkling water and followed by crisps and some chocolate, I was so glad we’d made for here.The views were every bit as good as from the South Glenshiel ridge, different but just as impressive.
It is possible to climb Sgurr na Stri from here via a very eroded gully, visible from where we were but it looked pretty awful.Not a route I would ever choose when it’s so straightforward further along! Very difficult to leave our little slice of heaven but after 40 minutes or so we decided to make our way back as we were due at the family house in North Skye later that afternoon.
Another fabulous day in this very quiet corner of Skye. When I read about how ‘busy’ Skye is becoming I always think of here – and many, many other spectacular parts of the island – which remain under-visited and relatively unknown.I think they will continue to do so as they take minor effort to reach and many people these days prefer sights which require them only to step out of their car.Skye offers so many of these too of course and I enjoy them also but here, to me, is ultra special and one reason why Skye really is somewhere that should be seen on any Scotland trip.