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I have a confession to make. This was my first proper trip to the higlands of Scotland! I’ve lived in the UK all my life and it’s taken me 25 years to make it this far north! As you’ll know from reading this blog, I love to travel, but all too often, I neglect the places right on my doorstep in favour of sunnier, more exotic climes. But after missing out on all that Scotland has to offer for far too long, we headed to the Isle of Skye for five days. And hiking the Quiraing was number one on our hit list.
While planning this trip, we spoke with lots of friends who had been to Skye before and we received countless stories of how amazing the Isle of Skye is, how it feels like you’re on a different planet and how the landscape is so epic it will leave you lost for words. And we were soon able to discover all of this for ourselves.
Those who have visited the Isle of Skye can’t help but swoon over its jaw-dropping scenery. There doesn’t seem to be enough words to describe this island’s landscape. It is epic. It is other-worldly. It is almost too much to take in. The scenery is relentless, providing another amazing view around every corner. And as I’m sure everyone else has found, it is impossible to take a bad picture. The landscape simply does all the hard work for you.
Even driving from Inverness to the Isle of Skye was beautiful. The three hours it took us to drive went by so fast because we were so busy taking in the mountains and lochs passing by.
Looking to do more hiking? Check out these 5 long-distance hikes in Scotland.
Our Experience Hiking the Quiraing
We managed to do a bit of hiking during our 5 days on the Isle of Skye, starting with hiking the Quiraing, which is part of the Trotternish Ridge. And what a place to start! There is a circular route you can take to hike the Quiraing and it’s a fairly easy one to start off, with some scrambling over loose rock further in. At approximately 4 miles (6-7km), you only need a couple of hours to complete this walk (with no stops). However, on this occasion, we stuck to a shortened version, simply walking out to the ‘needle’ and back again, which was approximately 2 miles in total.
Starting out, the trail is easy to follow and fairly flat for much of the way, as you start off high up the mountain to begin with. Although the trail does involve a small amount of scrambling over loose shingle and rock at some points, the path is generally easy and safe. This is a walk you can easily complete in a morning and still have time to head to the pub for a hearty lunchtime reward afterward. Unless like us, you stop every 50 yards to take in the views, which are enough to take your breath away. All in all, we spent 2-3 hours hiking the Quiraing as we wanted to take in the beautiful scenery.
Let me just say that if you’re a photography enthusiast, like a couple of members of our group, make sure to bring your camera with you for this hike. You will not want to miss out on this opportunity to snap some awesome shots of the mountains, valleys, lochs and hills rolling out to sea. And with the trail being quite high up on the mountain side, you really do get a bird’s eye view of the land below and the mountains beyond.
To make the walk a bit more interesting/difficult, we decided to climb up one of the pinnacles which jut out from the side of the cliff. And it also made for some pretty great photos. This section was found at the very end of the walk close to the ‘needle’ and you have to scramble over loose scree (loose rock) to get to the top. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re unsure on your feet or scared of heights, but the views from the top were incredible.
The Quiraing trail was fairly quiet when we visited, and as you’ll see from the photos, we mostly had the place to ourselves, which was surprising given that the car park was so busy when we arrived. This is one of those places that, despite the influx of tourists and rise in popularity in recent years, the Isle of Skye still feels untouched, rugged and a million miles from civilisation.
Parking at the Quiraing
There is a small car park situated at the start of the trail but this isn’t very big and, as such, it was full when we arrived mid-morning. We noticed that a lot of cars were parking on the roadside, so we drove a short distance up the road leading away from the Quiraing to find a spot on the roadside. The car park at the Quiraing is free.
Facilities and Amenities
There are no facilities or amenities, such as cafes, restaurants or public toilets, in the immediate vicinty of the Quiraing trail, so you’ll need to bring refreshments with you. However, you’ll find a shop in Brogaig, called Mackenzie Stores, which is approximately an 8-10 minute drive from The Quiraing Car Park. There is also a restaurant called Columba 1400 in nearby Staffin for a bite to eat after your walk.
I agree completely with your description of Skye! I was there last August and just couldn’t believe my eyes… I hiked the Quirang and then went on down the Trotternish Ridge to the Old Man of Storr, with wild camping on my way. I was unlucky that there was a pretty nasty weather and I was almost blown off the cliff 😉 But the experience, the views.. words are just not enough! Gorgeous place.
Ah wow, wild camping sounds amazing! My husband is keen for us to do that next time. It’s definitely a beautiful place to camp. Any tips for wild camping on Skye? You’re right, words are not enough. I just want people to get up there and see it so they can appreciate what we mean!
Don’t do it in a bad weather! 😀 It’s hard to find non-boggy place, so the tent needs to have a good water isolation. You may want to read my whole post on the Trotternish Ridge adventure here: http://awomanafoot.com/index.php/2017/01/21/trotternish-ridge-isle-skye-scotland/ to decide by yourself. It was hard – but I was really unlucky. Next time I would actually choose not to camp out there – but hike early on and do the hole thing in one day. It’s an open ridge with very harsh winds and common heavy rains. There are easier places to camp on Skye… But in a beautiful weather it must be just marvelous to wake up to those views!
I did think that with camping in Scotland. The weather is just so unpredictable! I’ll check out your posts for sure. Thanks 😊
Smashing photos! This hike is on my list! Thank you,
Thanks Dina! The hike is a great one. The views are out of this world! Hope you have a great trip. Be sure to let me know if you find anymore hikes I should do next time! Zara x
Love this blog post!!!! Next time I’ll come with you and see all the bits I missed in Scotland! Looking forward to your next blog on Theoule / Eze 😉
Would be great to do a road trip around Scotland for a couple weeks at some point! There’s so much to see!!
hi my name is Bill Fines both parents are Scotish and they are from Greenoc . would love more info on hiking in the isle of sky and the Heberdies island if you could share thank you
Hey Bill. Thanks for the comment. I have a couple of posts on Isle of Skye but I think I need to return to Scotland to do some more hiking!! Where would you recommend?
Scotland is gorgeous, we’ve only been in the south part “the galloway forest” but even that was already so gorgeous 🙂
It is absolutely stunning isn’t it?! And this was only a small part, I already want to go back and explore more!
I could walk 24/7 just wandering through nature, I’ve never looked in my own country for beauty, till last month and it’s actually quite gorgeous (nature) xD and it’s only 45 minutes away from my home lol you just don’t take the time in your own country.
Exactly! It is ridiculous that this was my first time to the highlands! I need to travel more in my own country. Thanks for your comments, really appreciate it!
sometimes it feels like you need to travel a long distance for you to see something but it’s really not necessary 🙂 in my other post “De Veluwe” this is around the corner but I have never ever seen something like this before in my life in my own country xD