I’m sure you have heard about the stunning beauty of the Isle of Skye. Hiking and camping along the Skye Trail is the best way to experience its striking awesomeness. To make your travels easier I collected camping opportunities along the Skye Trail to make your adventure a little bit easier 🙂
The Skye Trail takes you from the most northern tip of Skye – Rubha Hunish, through the unbelievable Trotternish Ridge with the famous Old Man of Storr rock, passing close to Cuillin and ending in Broadford, almost 130 km later. It can be done in about 7 – 9, depending on hiking style and fitness levels. This trail is for experienced hikers. You have to have a map and compass on you – there is some markings on the way, but not always clear and it is not difficult to get lost when weather turns sour. The weather on Isle of Skye is not very accommodating – prepare for very strong winds and heavy rains. During my whole stay in Scotland I’d never been so cold as on Trotternish Ridge – I was soaked and shivering with cold. But don’t get discouraged – just prepare well 🙂
“Summer” in Scotland 😉
Although wild camping is available (legally) it is not always possible thanks to the unique Scottish moors. You might look at a picture and think that there are miles and miles of perfect green grass to pitch your tent on. But when you get closer you realize it’s all boggy and covered in water (sometimes pretty deep). That’s why don’t just assume you can pitch anywhere on the way and make yourself familiar with the camping options along the way.
During my month-long hiking adventure in the Scottish Highlands, I was almost only sleeping in my tent – either wild camping or on a camping site, only a few times sleeping in a bothy. Scotland is the perfect destination for a budget travel. It has very liberal laws regarding wild camping, but there are, of course, limitations. Make sure you research them and learn how to camp leaving no trace. There are areas (in National Parks and such) where camping might be forbidden outside of designated camping areas.
Below are the places I stopped at and some I know about that might be useful. There are also some B&B and hotel accommodation in shorter or farther distance from the Skye Trail, but not as common as in other parts of Scotland. Make sure you research and book them well in advance. The good thing is, if you are a hiker/walker a camping site can’t turn you away if there is no other one near (they can do that for drivers).
I hiked the trail north to south and that’s how I will describe it.
- Rubha Hunish
Some people come to Duntulm early in the morning and walk to Flodigarry without any stops, but I chose to come to Duntulm in the afternoon and walk to the Lookout both for the night. I can highly recommend this idea, as you may have more time to explore Rubha Hunish (a must!) or go earlier on the Duntulm castle.
Just look at the view you have from the Lookout!
The Lookout is a tiny wooden house which used to be a coastguard watch station. Today it is maintained by the MBA – click on to learn more and/or support them.
It’s made for three people (two at a lower bunk and one on the top, but when I was there all together five people could fit in, sleeping on the floor. There are no facilities and bring your own water.
That’s Lookout’s “bedroom”
If you are lucky, you can have some furry guests come over 🙂
- Flodigarry Hostel
I absolutely love the Flodigarry Hostel! They have a camping site next to the hostel and you can use all their facilities. Which means fully-equipped kitchen, warm and big dining room and even a tea room for a cozy evening with a book!
This is luxury for a hiker!
The bathrooms are nice, clean and hotel-like. Managers are really helpful. You can buy washing and drying services and there is also a dry room for your soaked clothing and wet boots. (£9,50)
TIP! The hostel is closed until 5pm. If you have no place to go, you can either sit in front of it at tables and look at this stunning view, or go for a tea to the Flodigarry hotel nearby.
Morning coffee view in front of the Flodigarry hostel.
- Trotternish Ridge
Now we have a problem. The stretch between Flodigarry hostel and Old Man of Storr (to get to Portree campsite or wild camp somewhere there) is a very long stage: almost 30km (and then getting to the campsite!). If you are really good you might do it, I wasn’t even thinking of it, so the only other option was to wild camp atop the Ridge.
I had to use heavy rocks to hold my tent down!
In a beautiful weather it’s not a problem, although you might walk a bit to find the least boggy spot. I was unlucky to camp there in a really nasty weather and was worried it would blow me off the cliff 😉 The winds there are powerful and the trail is completely exposed. Be warned! It might not be your thing.
When you walk in such a thick fog, you can see just a few meters around you.
TIP! One way to do it is to leave your stuff at the Flodigarry campsite, grab only your day pack and go early by bus to the Old Man of Storr and walk this stage backwards. Then again take a bus to start again from the Old Man of Storr south. That’s what I will do the next time I’m there.
A very nice campsite just outside of Portree. It takes about 30min to walk there from its center. Pretty big, not expensive. Facilities are fine, although there is only one dryer and there were lines to use it 😉
Right outside of the campsite you will catch a bus either north to Rubha Hunish/Duntulm or to get to Old Man of Storr (if you want to make it a day hike). (£7-8)
There is a campsite close by the Sligachan Hotel. There is also a restaurant with warm meals and a bus stop right in front of it. (£7,50)
As you can see I wasn’t particularly lucky with the weather when in Sligachan…
- Camasunary Bay
You don’t have to stop here, the official end of this stage is in Elgol. But I highly recommend it – there is a new bothy there with a lot of room. As a bothy it does not have any facilities, but is spacious and recently built with good isolation – so also nice and warm-ish.
There is one social room for meals prep and eating, and one sleeping room with two levels of wooden platforms. If there is suddenly a lot of tourists – there is still floor to be used!
As you can see, the Camasunary bothy is located in a place of utter beauty!
As far as I know there is no campsite or other accommodation in Elgol – only wild camping (another reason why it’s worth to stop at Camasunary Bay). There is a coffee shop and a bus stop, though 🙂
There is a B&B in Torrin, but no campsite. It is suggested to wild camp before you reach the village. Later you may want to stop by the famous Blue Shed Cafe (open April – October and on weekends in the winter months). There is also a stop for the Elgol – Broadford bus. As I was cutting my trail short for the lack of time, I utilized this opportunity.
- Between Torrin and Broadford
If you are not trying to do this stage in one day (20 km) your only option is wild camping. But don’t worry – this area is beautiful and has enough great spots to pitch your tent.
My small Vango pitched in a truly stunning scenery.
When I was hiking there I stopped at the cleared village of Suisnish, before you reach the farm. There is an abandoned house and it was just the perfect spot for my tent. I am sure you agree 🙂
There is no official campsite in Broadford, but there is a Youth Hostel, hotel and some B&B. Knowing it, I stopped some 4 km before the village for a last wild camp.
On the way from Broadford to my wild camping site 🙂
A guy I met there was able to camp at the Youth Hostel – he simply went and asked if he could. I don’t know if it’s a regular practice (there is nothing about it on their site) or if it was just a one-time mercy thing.
In Broadford, you will find a bank, big co-op store, pubs and a bus stop.
TIP! If you plan on getting from Broadford directly to Glasgow Airport, book your bus ticket in advance (online by yourself or you can buy it in any Tourist Office) – when I was going back there was no seats left and people were turned away! I was so glad I got my ticket the day before!
Do you have all you need for your Scottish adventure?
Check with this complete hiking and camping in Scotland packing list for women to make sure you have all you need!
Happy Hiking on the Isle of Skye!