The Isle of Skye’s dramatic Cuillin mountain range dominates the misty isles’ skyline wherever you look – climbing the twelve 3000 ft+ peaks of the Black Cuillin ridge is on most Munro Baggers bucket list and summiting the Inaccessible Pinnacle is probably the most daunting climb in Scotland. However, if you like life a little more sedate the Cuillin is also viewed in all its magnificence from a walk to Camasunary Beach on the Elgol (or to give it its proper name) Strathaird Peninsula.
Elgol Peninsula walk
Just driving on to the Elgol Peninsula is impossibly dramatic. Leaving behind the busy civilisation of Broadford, a single track road winds its way to the tiny crofting hamlet of Torrin. Take it slow and watch out for the traffic; although in this remote part of Skye you are more likely to meet a herd of lumbering cows than a string of camper vans. At the tiny hamlet of Torrin you get your first up close and personal experience of the Black Cuillin, here the mighty blue mountain, Bla Bheinn, towers above you.
However, the best view of the Cuillin range is a little further on. Follow the road from Torrin alongside Loch Slapin to the Camasunary Car Park; it is about half way from Torrin to Elgol. To your right, a path climbs steeply to the top of the spectacular Am Mam pass. The view from the top of the pass of the Cuillin is one of Scotland’s best views, and arguably one of the easiest achieved mountain views in the whole country. The peaks of the Black Cuillin are often compared to those of Mordor and the sharp spire of Sgurr nan Gillean as viewed across Camasunary Bay could easily stand in for Mount Doom.
From the top of the Am Mam pass descend down to the beach and the Camasunary Bothy where it is free to spend the night, providing you comply with the mountain bothy code. To make this walk a round trip, a hair-raising cliff path will take you to the village of Elgol, from which you can complete a very long circuit by road. Otherwise, if like us, your path to Elgol is blocked by a large herd of intimidating cows you can also cut back cross country through Glen Scaladal at Cladach a’ Ghlinne bay to rejoin the path to the car park.
If you don’t make it all the way to Elgol by foot, it is worth driving to the end of the peninsula; the village is one of my favourite places on Skye. From Elgol you can take a boat trip out to Loch Coruisk in the heart of the Cuillin range from where, if you dare, you can negotiate the Bad Step or climb the diminutive, but distinctive, Sgurr Na Stri – both as epic as any quest dreamed up by Tolkien.
The Elgol Peninsula and Black Cuillin Walk
OS Map 411 Skye Cuillin Hills
A note on Skye Weather
Before heading out onto the Elgol peninsula make sure you are prepared for any kind of weather. This is a remote part of Scotland. My beginners guide to hillwalking has lots of tips on how to prepare. Before you head out I recommend you check out all of the following sites – I use all three to get a good idea about what the weather possibly ‘might do’, and then I still plan for the worst.
MWIS (Mountain Weather Information Service) who produce weather reports for the next 3 days.
The Met Office Mountain Weather.
Mountain Forecast has a weekly forecast for most mountain ranges – make sure you check the forecast for the top of the hill not the bottom!
…and just to show you how quickly Skye’s weather can change, this was Torrin five minutes after we left Elgol!
Love, from Scotland x