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PlanetSKI Is Back In The Mountains

We’re continuing our trip to hike some paths in the mountain ranges and ridges on the Isle of Skye on the west coast of Scotland. We’ve taken to the water too. What a place! UPDATED

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Part Three – Up from Camustianavaig by foot and over to Rassay by boat

“Red Sky at Night Shepherd’s Delight, Red Sky in the Morning Shepherd’s Warning”.

Well, this was first thing in the morning.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

This was last night.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

And this is the top of our hike to the hill above Camustianavaig at mid-day.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

It seems red sky at either end of the day is a good sign on Skye.

We’ll bring you a spectacular 360 degree video from the top of the hill later in this update.

Some locals had told us this was the best short hill walk on the Isle of Skye.

“The views are the best across the Isle itself, then to Rassay and beyond to the mainland,” said the landlady of our B&B, Lesley.

With the wonderful address of Croft 3, Camustianavaig, Isle of Skye.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

‘Oh, and you probably won’t see another person – unlike the hikes to the Fairy Ponds and the Old Man of Storr where there can be hundreds of people on a busy day.”

We saw two people on the way up from Camustianavaig.

The walk starts on the beach of this bay.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

And then meanders up.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The views were simply stunning.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

And it’s just as fine gazing inland.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Across the heather.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

And at the top here’s the promised 360 degree video:

With views to the capital of Skye, Portree.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The previous evening we had been enjoying a sundowner overlooking Portreee.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The way down showed us where we would be later in the day – the island of Rassay.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

And this is how we got there.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Courtesy of a regular PlanetSKI reader and good friend of ours, Mike Shepherd.

We first met him when he ran the school at Cairngorm a few years back.

Now he is living on the Isle of Skye.

Isle of Skye. Image © Mike ShepherdI

Isle of Skye. Image © Mike Shepherd

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

He puts his touring skis on when conditions allow in the winter months, but usually he is on the water as he and his partner, Caroline, work for the local coastguard service.

Now we are not usually ones for selfies with sporting heroes, but who should we see as we landed on Rassay but Danny MacAskill.

He is a Scottish trials cyclist, from Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye and works professionally as a street trials/mountain bike rider.

His videos have had more than 500 million views on You Tube.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

And here he is on his bike testing the limits of mountain biking, riding down the infamous Dubh Slabs on the Isle of Skye.

He was born on the Isle of Skye and hasn’t forgotten his roots.

Here he is on the Cuillin Ridgeline.

It has had more than 78m views on You Tube.

It was not the obvious place for celebrity spoting.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

We were back on water early the next day.

Heading from Armadale on the south of the island, back to the Scottish mainland at Mallaig.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Not much is certain in life, but some things are.

PlanetSKI will be back in the mountains on the Isle of Skye in the not too distant future.

We have only just scratched the surface.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Part One – On the Isle

The Isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful spots in the United Kingdom, dominated by two mountain areas – the Cuillin Range and the Trotternis Ridge.

We had thought about hiking Ben Nevis near the ski resorts of the Nevis Range and Glencoe.

Or heading to the Cairngorm National Park, near some of the other Scottish ski areas – Cairngorm, The Lecht and Glenshee.

We decided to head to the mountains on the Isle of Skye.

“Head down to the Cuillin or up to Trotternis, the most spectacular mountains in Britain,” said PlanetSKI reader Peter Lewis as he read of our plans.

We went to both, but more of that later.

The Isle remains busy at this time of year, but we found a B&B in Broadford for £100 a night.

The view from our room was fabulous.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

And down on the shore?

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Time to put the walking boots on.

Our first hike was The Old Man of Storr, Bodach an Stor, to the north of Portree in the Trotternis Ridge.

One of the stories relating to the Old Man of Storr is that it was the thumb of a giant who when he died was buried in the earth.

Another version is that whilst fleeing from attackers, two giants, an old man and his wife made the unfortunate decision to look back and as they did so were turned to stone.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The area is, quite simply, stunning.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

And the video view from the top:

Regular readers will know we had been planning to hike in the Alps this summer and have been in training by hiking the South Downs Way at the other end of the United Kingdom.

Sadly circumstances determined we couldn’t make it to the Alps this summer, but it has set us up well for the mountains on the Isle of Skye.

The Isle of Skye is 50 miles long and the largest of the Inner Hebrides.

The Island has a rich history covering many topics, such as: Dinosaur Fossils, Clan Warfare, Highland Clearances and the infamous ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ and the Jacobite Rebellion.

The Isle of Skye is also a great destination for wildlife with sightings of the White Tailed Sea Eagle.

Otters, seals, whales, dolphins and red deer are just some of the other impressive creatures that can be seen on and around the Isle of Skye.

The Cuillin Range offers 12 Munros – peaks above 3,000ft (914m).

There are many great walks on Skye to be enjoyed by the less experienced.

It remains one of the most photogenic parts of the UK.

Rainbows and fishing boats help.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Next up we are visiting the Fairy Pools on the west of the Isle and then a coastal walk north of Portree hugging the shoreline where dinosaurs used to roam.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Do check back…

Part Two – Fairies and Dinosaurs

Next up we’re hiking the Fairy Pools on the west of the Isle of Skye and then part of the isolated coastal path to the north of Portreee on the east coast, where 170 million years ago dinosaurs roamed.

Plus we hear from locals about life on the island, including some of its downsides.

The Fairy Pools are situated within the Cuillin Range.

The mountains were formed 60 million years ago and are all that remains of an eroded magma chamber of a huge volcano.

The area has some of the most spectacular peaks and are overseen by Professor Norman Collie (standing) and John Mackenzie (seated) .

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The two men first climbed, and then named many of them.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Two Cuillin ranges dominate the landscape on Skye: the Black Cuillin and the Red Cuillin, separated by Glen Sligachan.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The ridge of the Black Cuillin is perhaps the UK’s most challenging mountain range.

It’s more than 11 kms and above 3,000 feet in places.

It contains 11 Munros and 16 other summits.

The highest point is Sgurr Alasdair at 3,254 feet.

The gentler, rounded Red Cuillin are popular with hillwalkers with the highest point being Glamaig, a 2,543-foot Corbett.

Many roads on the Isle of Skye single track with passing places for oncoming vehicles, or to be used for the slower vehicles to pull in to allow others to overtake.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The Fairy Pools themselves are a major tourist attraction with RVs parked by the dozen.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The first few pools are crowded with tourists.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

But the tourists thin out as the walk gets longer.

And steeper.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

We made it to the top.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

On the way up the plants are stunning too.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

If you walk the Fairy Pools then make sure you head down to the beach at Glenbrittle at the end of the road.

Many don’t – their loss and others’ gain.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

At the other end of the spectrum and on the other side of the island is this:

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

To access the shoreline there is a steep descent with views up to the Old Man of Storr, where we hiked earlier (see Part One of this report below).

Dinosaurs roamed this part of world 170 million years ago when it was not an island.

It now has 150m cliffs dominating the scenery.

We didn’t see a single soul on our walk as the access is steep  – you need to go down and then back up.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Dinosaur bones & footprints have been found and the fossils of prehistoric shellfish.

Plus some more modern relics.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

The modern day shoreline is stunning.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

But what about man-made pleasures and drawbacks on the Isle of Skye?

There is a scattering of pubs on the Isle of Skye, but most are in the main towns as there doesn’t seem to be the year-round demand in other places.

It was easy to get a drink at the bar of the Hibernean in Broadford, with a group of locals keeping traditions alive.

It is easy to isolise the Isle of Skye as a tourist, but it can be hard for the locals who live on the island year-round.

It has a population of 12,000 with many dependent on the tourist industry, either directly or indirectly.

Of the many locals we spoke to, the Covid-19 lockdown was very tough as the tourists stopped coming and incomes dried up.

Some locals we spoke to pointed out to us the hardships of education and health provision.

Many children have long bus journeys to get to the main school in the capital, Portree.

Others, like those on the Island of Rassay, need to get a ferry first.

There is a hospital in Portree, but we were told it was basic and for anything serious it’s a journey to Inverness that is several hours away.

It is tough here in the winter months when the tourists have gone and the hours of daylight are short.

It can be bitterly cold, though there is some skiing when the snow falls.

There are no ski lifts, but some hike up for their turns.

“It is quite fun to hike up and ski some fresh snow,” said PlanetSKI reader, Mike Shepherd, who lives on the island and who we met up with.

He used to run the ski school at Cairngorm and we hooked up for an evening on the water.

Isle of Skye. Image © Mike ShepherdI

Isle of Skye. Image © Mike Shepherd

Lets just say it was fun.

Enormous fun.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

More of that when we update this report in Part Three – PlanetSKI is Back in the Mountains.

Where we also bumped into one of the Isle of Skye’s favourite sons, Danny MacAskill.

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

Isle of Skye. Image © PlanetSKI

He is a Scottish trials cyclist, from Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye and works professionally as a street trials/mountain bike rider.

His videos have had more than 500 million views on You Tube.

Do check back…

Image c/o PlanetSKI

 

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