Otter Lodge Blog: Our Favourite Local Walks
There are some fabulous places to go for a walk on Skye. Ambitious folk might look to the Skye trail for a challenge; whilst others might enjoy a quick yomp up to the Old Man of Storr. But closer to home, what’s on offer around our village of Broadford?
The first thing worth mentioning is that technically, if you don’t make a nuisance of yourself, you can walk anywhere. Scotland’s outdoor access code will give you guidelines, but freedom to roam is one of our nation’s greatest achievements. We rely on folk to be considerate, though – don’t intrude on a crofter’s privacy by tramping through the yard next to their cottage (even if the most likely scenario is that you’ll be invited in for a pile of scones and a blether). On the other hand, a closed gate doesn’t mean necessarily mean ‘no entry’. There are even some public roads that are gated to keep in livestock. Just be sure to leave the gate as you found it.
The second thing to highlight about walks on Skye is terrain. Even though you can, it’s best not to to stray from a path. Skye’s wet weather is legendary and a good part of the island comprises of classic peat bog. The temptation to head to somewhere directly often leads to floundering misery in the mire. Or ankle breaking tussocks.
Luckily, there a quite a few more pleasant options around our village. If you head straight out our gate with your boots on you can tramp along the coast or up onto the hills and croftland behind Otter Lodge, and find quiet places to enjoy the scenery. Here are some suggestions for places to go:
Waterloo and Rubha Ardnish
This is a favourite family walk and probably the nicest one close to our B&B. The township of ‘Waterloo’ is located along a quiet side road that skirts Broadford Bay, a couple of minutes stroll from here. It’s great for sunsets (and keeping moving is helpful on a summer evening when there midges about!) You can vary the route by heading out onto the beach at low tide, or following an excellent path at the end of the road that leads to the village of Breakish. A version of this walk can be found on the Walkhighlands website but don’t be put off by the part that talks about no path, it’s relatively straightforward finding routes up the Ardnish peninsula. Check out the rocks on the shore for fossils and look out for all kinds of birds (including soaring sea eagles). And, of course, otters.
Strath Suardale and the Marble Line
This is a lovely area south west of Broadford. It’s possible to walk to the strath (or valley) from Broadford itself, although a car or a bike is useful to shorten the walking time along the road out of the village. A wooden sign and a gate on the left lead you to the Marble Line, a good path that follows the route of the old railway that used to take marble from the quarries in the valley down to the pier at Broadford. The path skirts the side of the valley and has outstanding views of Beinn na Caillich, and then Blaven as you head south. It’s also worth stopping at the beautiful little ruined church of Cill Chriosd (Kilchrist), set on a hillock by the roadside and overlooking a pretty lochan. There is a heap of history in and around this area, with archaeological finds dating back to the bronze age.
For a full day’s hiking, you can continue out along the path to the cleared villages of Boreraig and Suisnish. These ruins are poignant places; once, they would have been well-established communities, with many families living in thatched blackhouses, growing crops and keeping cattle. Look carefully and you’ll see signs of ‘lazy beds’, the ridges and furrows of previously cultivated land.
Other walks around and about
There are some nice places to wander around Irishman’s point (on the west side of Broadford Bay). You can get there by walking through village from Otter Lodge or start at the car park by Café Sia.
A short car journey from Broadford takes you to the Kinloch Forest and the marked trail to Leitir Fura. Look for the road sign by the forestry as you head towards Armadale.
For a straightforward walk up a prominent Skye peak, it’s worth checking out the accessible hill of Beinn na Cro. You can find it on the way to Elgol, at the head of Loch Slapin.