This week’s feature comes from @outdoor.recce who talks us through his experience completing Skye Trail up in Scotland. This trail isn’t for beginners, it is said to be an advanced and unofficial route however the unmatched views and landscapes make it all worth it. Here’s what he had to say about the trip.
Embarking on the Skye trail was a thru hike into the unknown. The official Skye trail is roughly 83 miles however with a few alt routes we ended up hiking closer to 100 miles. The trail begins at the northern most tip of the island, an old red telephone box marks the start, with the trail finishing at a hotel in the second largest town. The terrain is made up of mostly unmarked trail comprising of peat bog, wet grassland, unique Grabbo stone and rocky scree.
My sister and I set off with Ultralight backpack setups, enough food for 3 full days knowing there would be an opportunity to resupply on the day 3. With peat filtered clear mountain water in abundance we used a sawyer water filter throughout the hike. It was also my first time using hiking poles, for years I’d thought they were a bit extra but with a loaded pack and undulating terrain they truly were a game changer - I'm now a convert for this type of trail.
The hardest but one of the most stunning sections of trail was on stage 2 of 7, the Trotternish Ridge. A 19 mile+ day made up of thigh burning ascents, and knee knackering descents with only the option to keep pushing until you get off the Ridge or take one of a few escape routes to lower ground. The only water sources we found on the stunner of a day being right at the start and end of the Ridge. The panorama made up for the slog it was without a doubt one of the hardest days hiking we'd done on any trail.
On the most part we had blessed weather for the time of year, it was the middle of April and we didn’t encounter a single midge! But Scotland had to remind us where we were a few times and we got hit with our fair share of classic 'Scottish Dreich' hours of brutal rain, white outs and crazy 50mph gusts. These conditions always made pitching the tents interesting but I wouldn't want to change it. The weather on Skye adds a mystique otherworldly feeling to the isle.
Skye delivered some of the wildest panoramas, dreamy camp pitches, sea to summit vistas, friendly locals, like minded hikers and uniquely surprising terrain. Both the flora and fauna where lush there were countless types of lichens, wild flowers and unusual peatbog plants. We saw eagles riding the mountain thermals, iridescent sea birds, seals bobbing around and deers devouring the few flat patches of grass for miles. The one thing that evaded us was the sea otter though – but there is always next time.
Whilst we were on trail I went truly 'offgrid' only using my phone to capture pictures. This allowed me to test my navigation skills using the waterproof Harvey’s map to navigate the entirety of the trail. Trust me when I say a waterproof map in Skye is essential! Using the land to navigate was really refreshing, it forces you to be really present on your hike, to take in your surroundings and to use the contours, natural features and historic mtn cairns to stay on track.
Honestly the trail completely surpassed my expectations. As I woke on day 7 I really didn’t want the trail to end, it definitely won’t be my last time on the mighty isle.