Isle of Skye Map
The purpose of this page is to provide a starting point for those interested in climbing on Skye. For a detailed description of Skye, please see Wikipedia
, though I've paraphase it below:
Skye or the Isle of Skye (/skaɪ/; Scottish Gaelic: An t-Eilean Sgitheanach or Eilean a' Cheò) is the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.[Note 1] The island's peninsulas radiate from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillins, the rocky slopes of which provide some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the country.Although it has been suggested that the Gaelic Sgitheanach describes a winged shape there is no definitive agreement as to the name's origins.
The Black Cuillin, which are mainly composed of basalt and gabbro, include twelve Munros and provide some of the most dramatic and challenging mountain terrain in Scotland. The ascent of Sgùrr a' Ghreadaidh is one of the longest rock climbs in Britain and the Inaccessible Pinnacle is the only peak in Scotland that requires technical climbing skills to reach the summit. These hills make demands of the hill walker that exceed any others found in Scotland and a full traverse of the Cuillin ridge may take 15–20 hours. The Red Hills (Gaelic: Am Binnean Dearg) to the south are also known as the Red Cuillin. They are mainly composed of granite that has weathered into more rounded hills with many long scree slopes on their flanks. The highest point of these hills is Glamaig, one of only two Corbettson Skye.
The northern peninsula of Trotternish is underlain by basalt, which provides relatively rich soils and a variety of unusual rock features. The Kilt Rock is named after the tartan-like patterns in the 105 metres (344 ft) cliffs. The Quiraing is a spectacular series of rock pinnacles on the eastern side of the main spine of the peninsula and further south is the rock pillar of the Old Man of Storr.
The Ranges of The Isle of Skye
Sgurr na Coinnich across Loch Alsh
The Isle of Skye and the peaks of Kylerhea are first seen from Eilean Castle on the eastern approach from Kyle of Lochalsh and dominate the view all the way to the Skye Bridge. These are not the peaks that the majority of people that visit the Isle of Skye come to climb, but nonetheless they are decent enough peaks for the avid hill walker.
Kylerhea, in the south-eastern pennisula of the Isle of Skye, is predominantly made up of boggy moors and fine little lochans. It has a delectable charm and the peaks on either side of the Glen Arroch road give a taster of the delights which lie ahead. There are only 3 peaks in Kylerhea of note. The first 2 lie to the north of Glen Arroch and are Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich. Both offer fine views of the Red and Black Cuillins. The 3rd peak is Ben Aslak to the south of Glen Arroch, which has excellent views south down the Sound of Sleat.
Sgurr nan Gillean (Black Cuillins) and the River Sligachen
Blaven Group - Blaven (Bla Bheinn) is considered an outlier of the Black Cuillin. Despite it being gabbro, it is not technically a Black Cuillin because it is east of Glen Sligacan,but it's also not Red and it is a Munro... why can't this be easy!
The Red Cuillin
The Red Cuillin (Red Hills) - Lying east of Glen Sligachan. Peaks in the Red Cuillin are more mellow than ones the Black Cuillin; they are typically covered in vegetation. The Red Cuillin are granitic, but display a red tinge in certain light conditions.
The Black Cuillin
With the exception of Blaven in Strathaird, all Munros on Skye are in the Black Cuillin. Without a doubt, the most impressive range on Skye and possibly all of Scotland. This region is again broken down into: The Black Cuillin - located west of Glen Sligachan. Said to be the true Cuillin, the Black Cuillins are know for their exhilarating climbs. The Black Cuillins are composed of gabbro, a very rough, black igneous rock, which feels great in the hand, even when holds aren't positive. All Munros on Skye (minus one) are in the Black Cuillin.
The Trotternish from Portree
Described by sources as being a 19 mile landslide. This feature can be seen quite easily from Portree and exends well up the peninsula; it contains the very popular walk the "Old Man of Storr" which is found below the Graham "The Storr".
As a testament to how old their classification is, or possibly as a nod to the clearly superior altitude unit (not likely), we find that the British use feet. The elevation classes that are relevant to Skye are as follows:
|Class Name ||Elevation Rule|
|Munro||>= 3000 ft.|
|Corbett||>= 2500 ft.|
|Graham||>= 2000 ft.|
|Sub 2000er||< 2000 ft.|
Please note that:
- I've assumed that a Munro (as an example) is >= 3000 ft. and not > 3000 as described on Wikipedia and on WalkingHighlands. I make this assumption because:
- If a sub 2000er is < 2000 and a Graham is > 2000, then what is exactly 2000? A Graham must be >= 2000.
- It would inconsistent for one class to begin on a round number and another not. Classes begin on nice round numbers: 2000, 2500, and 3000.
- All Munros are Corbetts
- All Corbetts are Grahams
- I only specify the highest order class a peak is a member of; I never heard Ben Nevis referred to as a Graham, even though it is one technically.
- The sub 2000ers are not listed because there are many and I'm not sure what the interest level is for those. If you need the sub 2000ers listed, please let me know.
The Isle of Skye Peaks >= 2000 Ft.
Below is a table of all peaks >= 2000 ft, classified the way the British do.
|Peak Name ||Elev. (m) ||Elev. (ft) ||Range ||Elev. Class|
|Sgurr Alasdair||992||3,254.60||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Inaccessible Pinnacle (Sgùrr Dearg)||986||3,234.91||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh||973||3,192.26||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Sgurr na Banachdich||965||3,166.01||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Sgurr nan Gillean||964||3,162.73||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Bruach na Frithe||958||3,143.05||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Sgurr Mhic Choinnich||948||3,110.24||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Sgurr Dubh Mor||944||3,097.12||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Am Basteir||934||3,064.31||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Bla Bheinn||928||3,044.62||Blaven Group||Munro|
|Sgurr nan Eag||924||3,031.50||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Sgurr a'Mhadaidh||918||3,011.81||Black Cuillins||Munro|
|Garbh-bheinn (Skye)||808||2,650.92||Blaven Group||Corbett|
|Sgurr na Coinnich||739||2,424.54||Kylerhea Hills||Graham|
|Beinn na Caillich (Kylerhea)||732||2,401.58||Kylerhea Hills||Graham|
|Beinn na Caillich (Broadford)||732||2,401.58||Red Cuillins||Graham|
|Beinn Dearg Mhor (Sligachan)||731||2,398.30||Red Cuillins||Graham|
|Beinn Dearg Mhor (Broadford)||709||2,326.12||Red Cuillins||Graham|
|Ben Aslak||610||2,001.31||Kylerhea Hills||Graham|
There is no red tape in Scotland due to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 which incorporated the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This code, which commenced on the 9th of February 2005, has established statutory rights of access to land and inland water for outdoor recreation.
The Land Reform(Scotland) Act 2003
Scottish Outdoor Access Code
The following aspects should be taken into consideration when you are in the Scottish countryside;
- Seek local advice in regard to deer stalking or grouse shooting activities
- Ensure that all gates are closed behind you
- During the lambing season (March to May) ensure that all dogs are kept on a lead
- Please refrain from feeding or annoying any animals
- Limited parking space is available at the start of many routes, please ensure that you are not blocking a road and/or entrance
- Parking is provided at the start of some routes by the local farmers, it is polite to ask if you can use this facility
- Try to refrain from crossing fields with animals and/or crops if an alternative route is available
- Ensure that you treat the local environment with care by leaving it as you found it and by taking any litter home with you
- Any camp fires should be carefully watched and only used away from dense forest areas
Bus services run to Inverness and Glasgow
, and there are local services on the island, mainly starting from Portree or Broadford. Train services run from Kyle of Lochalsh at the mainland end of the Skye Bridge to Inverness, as well as from Glasgow to Mallaig from where the ferry can be caught to Armadale.
The A87 trunk road traverses the island from the Skye Bridge to Uig, linking most of the major settlements. Many of the island's roads have been widened in the past forty years although there are still substantial sections of single track road.
The Campsite at the Sligachan Hotel The road to Glen Brittle
Glen Brittle campsite from the ridgeIt would be possible, though a bit of a drive if you are only going to visit the Trotternish, to use the Sligachan Hotel as a base of operations. We were able to explore in the Trotternish and Black Cuillins from there; the Tallisker Distillery is also reachable from the hotel. The hotel has wi-fi and is also a micro-brewery; the food is reasonable and delicious. They also host a camp ground next to the hotel if you are willing to risk the weather. Please click on the link below to find up-to-date information about the hotel:
The other main camping site giving access to the Cuillin Ridge is located on the west coast at Glen Brittle this is a remote location but with an unrivalled view of the whole of the Black Cuillins.
has a shop for essential supplies.
Wild camping is totally legal in Scotland and can be done in various locations in Glencoe. This is due to the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 that was mentioned earlier.
Here are some of the basic rules that should be adopted when wild camping;
- The larger the group, the harder it is to keep impacts to a minimum. Keep groups small.
- Camp as unobtrusively as possible.
- Remember that noise travels from tents disturbing wildlife as well as humans.
- Enjoy the freedom of wild camping without leaving a trace of your passage. Protect our country's outstanding scenery and wildlife as well as the wilderness experience.
- Camping on the same spot harms vegetation. Aim to move frequently and do not stay for any longer than 3 nights in the same place.
- Lighting fires poses a high fire risk on peaty soils and close to tinder dry grass. A high risk of fire can exist at any time of year, and not just in times of drought.
- Watercourses and loch sides are important sites for birds and animals. Take extra care when camping near burns and lochs, and try to avoid camping immediately beside them.
- Always find a spot at least 30 metres from fresh/running water when going to the toilet.
- Bury excrement in a small hole (not under boulders). A trowel or ice axe can be used to lift a flap of turf.
- Remove all litter (even other peoples!) Think ahead and only carry in what you are prepared to carry out.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland provides an invaluable leaflet providing a full breakdown of the dos and don'ts of wild camping in Scotland. Wild Camping, A guide to good practice
The weather conditions on the Isle of Skye can alter rapidly due to its location on the western coast of Scotland and you should ensure you are fully prepared for all weather eventualities. The most comprehensive forecast guide for climbing/hiking on the Isle of Skye is the Northwest Highlands Forecast
provided by the Mountain Weather Information Serice (MWIS).
Maps and Books
OS Landranger Map 23 - North Skye
OS Landranger Map 32 - South Skye & Cuillin Hills
OS Landranger Map 33 - Loch Alsh, Glen Shiel & Loch Hourn
OS Explorer Map 411 - Cuillin Hills
Harvey Superwalker Map - Skye: The Cuillin
by Donald Bennett & Rab Anderson
Walking the Munros Volume 2
by Steve Kew
by Rob Milne & Hamish Brown
Walking the Corbetts Volume 2
by Brian Johnson
The Islands of Scotland including Skye
by Derek Fabian, Graham Little & Noel Williams
The Isle of Skye
by Terry Marsh
Skye: The Cuillin
by Mike Lates
Skye Sea Cliffs & Outcrops
by Mark Hudson
Scottish Winter Climbs
by Andy Nisbet, Rab Anderson, Simon Richardson
Scotland's Mountain Ridges
by Dan Bailey
by Mark Wrightham & Nick Kempe
Scottish Hill Names
by Peter Drummond
100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains by Ralph Storer
Basic Gaelic Names Glossary
Gaelic is a very rich language topographically, and this basic guide to some of the elements of place names should hopefully assist in understanding how/why the mountains on this page (and Scotland as a whole) are derived. It should be noted that in Gaelic a describing word would be placed at the end of a mountain name; i.e. Sgorr (peak) Dhearg (red), Sgorr Dhearg translated is Red Peak. This would read in English as Peak Red.
Old Man of Storr
|Gaelic word||English translation||Pronunciation|
|Ard, Aird ||high place||aird|
|Beinn, Bheinn, Ben||mountain||byn|
|Binnean||high, conical hill||beenyan|
|Blar||cleared space, field||blaar|
|Ciche||genetive of cioch||keecha|
|Creag||crag, rock, cliff||krayk|
|Guala||shoulder of hill||gooala|
|Leathad||broad slope, brae||lyehat|
|Sgorr, Sgurr||rocky peak||skoor|
The RidgeNot convinced by the above info that you should visit the Isle of Skye. Lets see if this can convince you!
Camasunary and the Cuillin
Skye:The Island & Lochalsh
Isle of Skye
The Scottish Mountaineering Club
Deer Stalking Scotland
Mountain Rescue Committee Of Scotland