Staffin strolling

We’ve driven here from Uig, over the bealach – past the car park for the horribly busy path to the Quiraing. There must be 70-80 cars crammed into every available space (apart from that taken by the burger van). I believe, along with several other destinations on Skye, that’s it’s become firmly lodged on the “World Top 50 Selfies” list… (what a shame!)

We squeeze past people struggling to park, and find ourselves in Staffin, for the very gentle walk over the hill and down to the shore south of the slip. Coming back up the well-engineered ancient path is slightly less gentle, but we can manage. Other than a few excessively loud voices at the slip, it’s really quiet – the only other person we’ve seen close by is a fisherman. On a fine, sunny, warm (for April) afternoon, Staffin’s shore is a great place to be.

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A quiet glen

Monday 15 April: We’re in need of a good leg stretch – somewhere out of this cold south-easterly wind. The forest road up Glen Hinnisdal could be just the thing… It may be a forest road, but much of the woodland has been cleared – there are fine views up the glen, and, on retracing our steps, down to the coast and Loch Snizort.

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Soggy Skye

We were at our “northern office” last week. Throughout the summer, we’ve been wishing for rain. On the long drive up, it rained, inevitably. The forecast for Skye wasn’t at all good – plenty of rain, and, when it wasn’t raining, there were heavy showers around, with a good chance of a soaking if we strayed far from shelter (so we didn’t…). Windy too – no, we didn’t suffer from the midges on this trip.

We’d arrived on the Monday – on Tuesday evening, it was dry enough for a short walk down the road. Wednesday started dry, but the clouds soon carried out their threat. Then, almost on the dot of 7pm, the sky cleared and the sun was out.

Rubha nam Bràithrean

“Brothers’ Point”, in other words. Who were they? – the sign offers more questions than answers. It’s Friday 13 October – we’re at our northern office, during a particularly stormy spell. Next week we’ll have Ophelia to contend with; today, just a strong and blustery wind. We thought it might be reasonably sheltered down here. It wasn’t too bad on the shore, but it was very difficult to hold the camera steady at times (a common theme for this trip).

Rubha nam Bràithrean is becoming popular with the minibus tours during the season, but today we’ve got the place to ourselves and one or two small birds (and a couple of seals who peer out of the water from time to time). We won’t stay long – can’t get past the stream, which usually flows under the boulders, and showers are threatening.

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Evening light

Weds 3 May: it’s a fine bright evening, clear but cold. We’re spending a few minutes down at Camas Mor, where there’s a little sailing boat with red sails (I know, we should have stayed until sunset) and the light’s catching the scattered houses of Bornesketaig. Later that evening, the sunset is spectacular, and after the sun’s gone down, there’s a sun pillar over the Harris hills.

Rubha na h-Aiseig again

Tues. 2 May: we’ve walked this way several times before, but it’s always an enjoyable outing. From the tiny Port Gobhlaig, a faint path follows the top of low cliffs, with stacks and inlets and an excellent view to the coast and hills to the south. After a little while, what seems to be an ancient path descends steeply to the grassy foreshore, fringed by rocks, pools and camels (just their humps). Eventually, one can go no further. There’s evidence of settlement here, the remains of perhaps three “black” houses by the shore – is this where a ferry (to Trodday, just a mile off shore) once departed? It’s a pleasant, and exceptionally quiet spot – there’s no-one else here – a good place to find a comfortable rock seat and gaze across the water. Eventually, we return the way we’ve come, more-or-less, which is no hardship given the views of the cliffs and Trotternish ridge ahead.

 

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Back to Rubha Hunish

Mon. 1st May: I’m on my own again, heading for Skye’s northernmost tip – Rubha Hunish. The path down the cliff face, between Meall Tuath and Meall Deas, puts many casual wanderers off. They’ve already reached a spectacular viewpoint, but the promontory below the cliffs is somewhere special. A cruise liner passes as I descend carefully: I’d much rather be where I am than where they are. There’s a great feeling of freedom on Rubha Hunish – I’d feel trapped inside that thing…

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Glen Hinnisdal

Sun. 30 April: the circular walk that wasn’t… Glen Hinnisdal cuts deep into the Trotternish ridge, a few miles south of Uig. A surfaced road links scattered houses on the north side of the river; to the south, it’s paralleled by a well-graded and very walkable forest track. Much of the forest has been felled in recent years, though there is still some untouched woodland at the end of the track, just beyond the river crossing. If we follow one of the rides down through the forest, we can perhaps get across to the north side and walk back down the road. No chance! At first it’s just plain difficult, very wet under foot – but then we come to an area where trees have been blown across the gap, and now it’s impenetrable! We have to retrace our steps. A golden eagle flaps away from the tree tops yards from where we turn – wow, he’s big. I don’t think many walkers have been here recently.

The views are, of course, subtly different on the way back – instead of the ridge, we’re now facing the Waternish peninsula across Loch Snizort, with Macleod’s Tables beyond. We’ve come here to try to avoid the cold easterly breeze – and now the wind’s dropping, and there’s more blue in the sky. We may not have achieved what we’d intended, but it’s been very pleasant.

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Loch Sneosdal

Sat. 29 April: I’m being left to my own devices this afternoon. I’m walking to Loch Sneosdal, a well-hidden lochan below dark crags, just two miles from the Quiraing as the golden eagle flies. For every thousand pairs of feet visiting the latter, I doubt if one visits Sneosdal. Other than the occupants of one or two cars on the main road (it’s very quiet, the views to Lewis and Harris are excellent, and it makes a good circular walk possible) I see no-one else. From the main road, the Heribusta lane is a pleasant stroll; from the top of the lane, a moorland track starts out towards the lochan. It becomes less distinct, before petering out altogether, and to reach to water’s edge is hard work. I make my way slowly and cautiously around the far shore, before following the feeder stream up towards the low grassy ridge. Now, after the somewhat closed-in amphitheatre of Sneosdal, I’ve got the views of the outer isles again – and can see my route ahead to the rough-surfaced waterworks road, which provides a quick route back to the start.

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