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The Trotternish Traverse

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This is an unusual walk in many respects, not least of which is the spectacular rock scenery and, in summer, glorious wild flowers. The most northerly point of Skye has stretching southwards from it a long and gently sinuous line of cliffs. This escarpment has been caused by a landslip, with basaltic rocks later being eroded by wind and weather to form fantastic pillars and needles. It's a climber's nightmare but a walker's delight. The walk described assumes that one day is the allowance, and that public transport can be taken to connect finish to start.

Go north from Portree on the A855 road, to park at the north end of Loch Leathan (507527). Forestry notices direct you up the path through the plantation to reach The Sanctuary of The Storr, where the Old Man of Storr with its companion pillars and pinnacles will be found. Above are the main cliff faces of the escarpment.

You could linger here for hours but there is a long way to go, so continue north until easy ground is gained, allowing one to turn back along the top of the cliffs above Coire Scamadal. The highest point of the day is gained at the trig point of The Storr (719m). Needless to say, the views are outstanding.

Now drop down to the Bealach a'Chuirn and take in Hartaval (668m), continuing over this Norse peak to descend to the Bealach Hartaval. It is possible, if wished, to quit the walk here, as it is at all the named passes over the escarpment. Better still to continue for another 7km of ups and downs, all the while with cliff edges on the right, to gain Beinn Edra (611m). This is the biggest bump in the middle of the walk.

The path continues down to the Bealach Uige. When the escarpment was an important physical barrier between populations on either side, these passes were of great importance, particularly this one, situated to the east of the coastal village of Uig. Continue up again (the ups and downs of this walk are an exerciser's delight!) to gain Boidha Buidhe (466m). To the east is another - dare we say it? - Tolkien-like landscape.

We now drop down to the Bealach Ollasgairte (439679), which is crossed by the minor road joining Uig and Staffin. Follow the path from the summit of the pass and traverse northeast below cliffs on Meall na Suiramach (543m). This leads to the extraordinary scenery of The Quiraing, which means the fold or pen. Like The Storr, it has pillars and pinnacles, gullies and cliffs, all guarding an area known as The Prison.

The most prominent gully is guarded by a rock spire, The Needle. Scramble past this to arrive on The Table, the level platform of grass in the very centre of The Prison. From The Quiraing, descend northeast by lochs Fada and Hasco, with a path striking off the north end of the latter towards Flodigarry and the A855 road.


Maps: OS Sheet 23 'North Skye, Dunvegan & Portree'
Distance: 22 km
Ascent: 1700 m
Time: 9 hours
Food & Drink: There is a hotel at Flodigarry, with the biggest choice of refreshment at Portree.


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