Scotland // Skye and the Western Isles //

The Cuillin and the Red Hills

For many people, the Cuillin (An Cuiltheann), whose sharp peaks rise mirage-like from the flatness of the surrounding terrain, are Skye’s raison d’être. When the clouds finally disperse, they are the dominating feature of the island, visible from every other peninsula.

There are three approaches to the Cuillin: from the south, by foot or by boat from Elgol; from the Sligachan Hotel to the north; or from Glen Brittle to the west of the mountains. The second route, down Glen Sligachan, divides the granite of the round-topped Red Hills (sometimes known as the Red Cuillin) to the east from the dark, coarse-grained jagged-edged gabbro of the real Cuillin (also known as the Black Cuillin) to the west. With some twenty Munros between them, these are mountains to be taken seriously, and many routes through the Cuillin are for experienced climbers only.

Elgol and around

The road to ELGOL (Ealaghol), fourteen miles southwest of Broadford at the tip of the Strathaird peninsula, is one of the most dramatic on the island, with a stunning view from the top down to Elgol pier. Weather permitting, you can take a boat from Elgol across Loch Scavaig, past a seal colony, to a jetty near the entrance of the glacial loch Loch Coruisk.

Loch Coruisk

Loch Coruisk, a needle-like shaft of water nearly two miles long but only a couple of hundred yards wide, lies in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Black Cuillin, a wonderfully overpowering landscape. The journey from Elgol takes about an hour and passengers are dropped to spend time ashore. Walkers can hike amidst the Red Hills, or over the pass into Glen Sligachan.