Planning a Trip...
to the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is the most "alpine-like" range of mountains in Great Britain. Jagged, knife-edge ridges, vertical drops, gendarmes and pinnacles abound. The traverse of the ridge is a graded rock climb as are the easiest routes on two of the peaks (Sgurr nan Gillean & Sgurr Dearg, aka the Inaccessible Pinnacle).
If you plan to visit Skye and do some mountaineering in the Black Cuillin (the Skye ridge) you should be a competent mountaineer, able to map-read well and read the terrain. You may also need to abseil or rock-climb depending on your chosen route. The rock here contains magnetite and compass readings may be inaccurate! The terrain is also much harsher and complex than anywhere else in Scotland.
Our website has numerous pages about walks on the Isle of Skye. These are mostly about the Black Cuillin, however it should be noted that fantasic views are also available from the Red Cuillin and the Trotternish Ridge wich extends towards Portree and the notable Quirang.
Skye effectively has its own climate. The island sits in the gulf stream and is somewhat milder than the mainland which means that there is often no snow in winter. Good winter conditions on the island can be quite rare.
The mountains rise steeply from the sea on the south-western side of the island presenting a large obstruction to the prevailing winds coming in from the Atlantic. This means that the moist air is forced upwards right on the coast... in turn this means that the ridge is often shrouded in thick cloud or sea-fog when the rest of the island may be clear blue skys.
As ever for Scotland, the weather can change in a matter of minutes, from sunshine to snow (even in July!) or just as quickly to thick clouds and zero-visibilty.
When it's sunny, however, the vast expanse of rock heats quickly and can act like a giant radiator in the corries.
Consumer amenities are based around the towns of Kyleakin/Kyle of Lochalsh (either side of the Skye Bridge), Broadford (half-way to Portree) and Portree (the capital).
All of these towns have pubs, fuel stations, B&'B's and a grocery store. Portree also has a small cinema.
For climbers and campers there are campsites at both ends of the Cuillin Ridge... at Sligachan there is a good campsite and the fine Sligachan Hotel which does good food/beer/showers. At the opposite end of the ridge there is a campsite in Glen Brittle along with the Glen Brittle Hut (BMC/SMC Hut) and a convenient youth hostel.
What to take
In addition to all the usual gear you should also take a rope/harness and associated equipement required for abseiling. It's sometimes a good idea to take a good book, too... just in case it rains and you're stuck for something to do. (In really poor weather a trip to the Quirang is very atmospheric!)
There are several mapps that are useful for the island.
- Landranger 32 (1:50000) - South Skye
- Outdoor Leisure (Skye/Torridon)