Trotternish Ridge, Skye
One of the most famous ridge walks on the Isle of Skye, the Trotternish Ridge forms the backbone of the Trotternish Peninsula, the northernmost part of Skye. The ridge is well known for its epic views of the iconic rock pinnacle that is the Old Man of Storr as well as the ancient landslips of the Quiraing. The ridge’s highest point is the Storr at 719m (2,359ft), which is one of the Grahams – a list of Scottish mountains between 2,000 and 2,500 feet (peak-baggers note, there’s a second Graham on the ridge route too, Hartaval).
It’s a walk that we’d wanted to do for ages, and once we’d got to Skye, planning was fairly easy. We walked the ridge from north to south in an easy two days, with a wild camp on the ridge itself. We hired a car, which we left at Flodigarry, and picked our way along a path beside Loch Langaig, just off the A855, to reach the ridge at the start of the Quiraing. Apparently, purists start the ridge from Duntulm, but setting out from Flodigarry makes for a far more pleasant start.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t quite managed to ascend the ridge before Ellie fell flat on her face, partway up a steep scree slope. Laden down with a pack that was about as big as she is, she couldn’t get herself back up without sliding further, so I pulled her upright by grabbing her rucksack. At least a couple of American tourists who were watching found it funny. No harm done save for a couple of grazes and some wounded pride…
From there on in, we got into our stride and headed south along the broad spine of the ridge. Late morning gave us some epic views looking eastwards out over the Sound of Raasay, but unfortunately after lunch the mist came down and the drizzle set in. The afternoon got progressively wetter as visibility worsened. We finally decided to call it a day at about 9pm, hoping that the following morning would bring better weather and views. We set up camp on the ridge at a spot near Flasvein. By this stage it was so foggy that we could barely see the ground beneath our feet, which made selecting a pitch for our little WickiUp 3 (a great backpacking tent from Nigor) a little tricky. The ground was grassy but pockmarked with part-covered rocks and boulders, and in the morning we found that one unnoticed rock had worn a small hole in the groundsheet of the tent – lesson: always use a footprint.
We woke early, unzipped the tent and peered out. Although it wasn’t blue skies and sunshine like the previous morning, we could at least see the long line of the ridge snaking out in front of us. We also discovered that we’d pitched the tent pretty close to the edge of the ridge… Walking on, we reached the cairn at Hartaval by mid-morning, and then followed the ridge line south to the precarious trig pillar that marks the summit of the Storr – the highest point on the peninsula. From this vertiginous viewpoint, we could clearly see the famous ‘Old Man’, and the ant-like columns of walkers making their way to its base from the car park at the head of Loch Leathan. This is literally and metaphorically the high point of the ridge, and the views were truly incredible.
From there, the ridge descends gradually, petering out at Creag an Fhithich. We reached that point at 3.25pm, and headed through farmland to a campsite on the edge of Portree. The next morning, we grabbed a bacon roll and a coffee in town, before hopping on the bus north to pick up the car, still feeling utterly exhilarated by our two-day Trotternish traverse.