6 of the best day hikes on the Isle of Skye

After spending a summer in rainy England it was awesome to escape to rainy Scotland for a family holiday to the gorgeous Isle of Skye. There are a ton of hikes to choose from, we chose these 6 because they all offered something a little different. You’ll need a car to get around the island, and you need to be prepared to get rained on!!

The South Duirinish Coast Walk

14-mile round trip
6 – 8 hours

  • Hilly coastal path along the cliffs, relatively easy but long.
  • Highlights include McLeod’s Maidens rock stacks and a gorgeous waterfall.

Drive to the tiny town of Orbost and you’ll find the trailhead by a small carpark behind a farm. The gravel road winds down to the beach and then back up into the forest. Soon enough you hit the cliffs and the views are stunning all the way along. Stop for lunch overlooking the rock stacks of McLeod’s Maidens. We walked until we came across an outcrop of rock that gave us the perfect view of a gorgeous waterfall, then turned around and took the ‘scenic route’ back through fields of ferns until we joined the original trail back to the car.

The Old Man of Storr

3.5-mile round trip
2 – 4 hours

  • Short and rewarding hike, easy at first, then gets harder.
  • Highlights include the Old Man of Storr rocks and the views from the top.

The trailhead starts right from the highway. It’s a big and well-maintained path with two opposite directions that both lead to the same spot. It eventually turns into a steep and muddy trail that passes the Old Man of Storr and takes you up above it. The views are absolutely amazing from here, you can also walk to the cliffs above you if the weather is good. Follow the same trail down to get back to your car.

The Quirang

5-mile round trip
2 – 4 hours

  • Relatively easy hike with one long and steep incline.
  • Highlights include the view and the heights.

The trailhead is up a long winding road to the top of the mountain which means it’s an easy walk along the side of the mountain under the cliffs with incredible views of the valley below you. When you reach the end you can look over the edge, it’s a sheer drop hundreds of feet to the ground. It’s then a steep and muddy hike up to the highest cliffs and back towards the car. Keep an eye out for the cairns (rock piles) that mark the way and don’t get too close to the edge if it’s windy.

Loch Coruisk to Elgol

8 miles one way
7 – 9 hours

  • Difficult at first, then long but relatively easy.
  • Highlights include the boat ride to Loch Coruisk and lunch in the bothy (a free house for hikers to rest in).

Drive to the town of Elgol and book a one-way ticket for the ferry to Loch Coruisk. We went with Misty Isle, the captain was full of information about the islands and mountain peaks we passed. We saw a seal colony as we arrived at our destination. You can spend a few hours here and catch the boat back, or you can follow the trail to the top of the hill, away from the loch, past two smaller lakes. Once at the top we made our own trail down the hill towards the bothy, crossing bog and rivers to get there. It was full of people with the fire roaring, the perfect spot for lunch. From there it is a 3-mile hike along the coast with steep drops to your right. Eventually, you will make your way back to Elgol and back to your car.

The Fairy Pools

2-mile round trip
1 – 3 hours (more if you want to swim!)

  • Very easy hike with a well-marked trail.
  • Highlights include the waterfalls and impossibly clear water.

The trailhead is opposite the carpark along the highway. It’s a well-marked trail and relatively easy but very muddy if it’s been raining. The path follows a series of pools and waterfalls that cascade down the hill. Some are deep enough to jump and swim in if you’re brave enough! You can absolutely take your time here, the trail goes on well past the fairy pools and to the base of the mountain with a huge crack in the side, its worth the scramble up there to explore it. Simply follow the same trail to get back to the car.

The Black Cuillins

6-mile round trip
6 – 8 hours

  • Somewhat difficult hike up and relatively easy hike down.
  • Highlights include the random waterfalls and the view from the top.

The trailhead is near the Sligachan Hotel. It starts out nice and easy and gradually gets steeper as you come towards the peak. The trail sort of disappears and you just sort of scramble uphill until you reach the ridgeline. Absolutely incredible views from the top, the perfect place for lunch. You can make it higher if you don’t mind a sketchy climb with a lot of loose rock. Follow the trail down the opposite side of the ridge along the river with plenty of beautiful waterfalls on the way, you’ll eventually hit a gravel driveway that takes you back to the car.

Packing Essentials

  • Small day pack, around 20 liters, preferably with a waterproof cover.
  • Waterproof hiking boots and good, thick socks.
  • Thin waterproof trousers and jacket.
  • Two or more thin layers underneath your jacket.
  • Plenty of food and water.
  • Map of the area and a compass.
  • Phone in case of emergency.
  • Camera and a spare battery.

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2 Replies to “6 of the best day hikes on the Isle of Skye”

    1. Well we didn’t camp but we saw a few people just camping on the cliffs! There are certain areas that are fenced off which you’ll be walking through but just find some public land I think it’s OK!

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