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isle of skye - hiking next week

We depart early tomorrow morning for our Scotland trip and we're all packed up and ready to go!

I've been checking the weather each day as our trip has approached. While it's a week out and I know the weather can easily change, Accuweather is showing rain (.25 to .50") with very gusty winds 20 MPH with gusts up to 40-50 MPH for the days we were hoping to do some hiking (10/10 and 10/11). I've read the adage that with Scotland there are no bad weather days, just bad gear. I'm guessing that while there is a lot of truth to that, there are still some days that it's just not safe to hike. We will have warm layers and waterproof jackets and waterproof boots. Our pants are water-resistant. I'm not as sure-footed as my husband so I'm going to bring some lightweight collapsible trekking poles to help keep me steady.

We were hoping to do the main touristy hikes - Old Man of Storr, Quiraing, Fairy Pools, Brother's Point, etc. I know that the first two hikes should be avoided if visibility/conditions are poor. Are there other hikes you would recommend for us to try if conditions are as forecasted that would be more suitable for rainy/windy conditions?

Or do we just need to make a new plan B as backup? Not sure what that would be beyond visiting some of the craft shops, Talisker Distillery, and Dunvegan castle...maybe go over to Raasay to visit that distillery as well?

Any advice is much appreciated. :)

Posted by
3363 posts

I can’t comment on the weather as we went in July and had awesome weather. We did the Old Man Of Storr hike, which I do recommend.

A suggestion for an indoor activity would be the Museum Of Island Life, a great little museum we enjoyed.
Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
27434 posts

It's way too early to have a reliable precipitation forecast. That said, October is the rainiest month of the year on Skye (average monthly rainfall 6"), so odds are that you'll have some not-good days. I had disappointing weather in western Scotland in July, but we were told the previous week had been unusually nice. Maybe you'll be lucky.

Posted by
1226 posts

Hi Julie

Walking poles are a good idea. You will also want your waterproof jackets (and over - trousers if you have them).

I would avoid the Old Man of Storr and Quiraing if it is very windy and/or if the visibility is poor. As for the Fairy Pools, you are not walking at high levels, but there is a burn (river) to cross at the start of the walk, and if it has been raining heavily the stepping stones will be submerged and the pools impossible to reach by the normal route.

However, there are many, many walks on Skye that are possible in all conditions. Have a look at this website Walk Highlands and search for walks on Skye. The walk descriptions tell you about terrain and conditions so you should be able to find something to suit whatever the weather.

Raasay would be a good choice for a day out. If you want to visit either Talisker or Raasay distilleries you need to book in advance - you can do this online. I am sure the craft shop owners will be happy to see you too and don't miss Skye Skyns on the Waternish peninsula (they have a small shop in Portree but their original site is much better and there's also a cafe in a yurt there).

You will also want to think about where you are going to have dinner and make reservations in advance.
Best wishes for a great trip
Jacqui (Skyegirl)

Posted by
33336 posts

What we are getting this weekend is the remnants of Hurricane Lorenzo which has gone down in the books as the most powerful eastern Atlantic hurricane in history, followed by a string of North American weather systems.

Posted by
677 posts

Thanks all for your responses.

diveloonie, I'd really like to go to the Museum of Isle Life but unfortunately they close at the end of September. I even inquired with them to see if there was a chance with the increase in tourism that they'd stay open later in the year this year but they said no.

ramblin' on, thanks for the weather link! That's a good one. I'll be referencing it next week I'm sure as we get closer.

acraven, I'd love it if we can have good weather. At this point, I'm just hoping for something that we can muddle our way through. I'm going to try to bring the right gear. Sorry you had disappointing weather on your trip. It's always such a crapshoot!

Jacqui, thank you so much - it makes me feel better knowing there are hikes that we can do in all conditions! Do you have any favorites that you would consider suitable for crummy weather? I've been on the Walk Highlands website but I'd only picked out those major ones, not any back-up hikes. I see there is an outdoor shop in Portree called "Inside Out" so we may stop in there to get some advice from them on the current hiking conditions and trails as well. We have Talisker booked but not Raasay as it was not in our original plans to visit that distillery. I was hoping for more hiking but we will see what Mother Nature decides to let us do. We ended up booking Ferry Inn for our last night in Skye (I'd first read about it from one of your previous posts). I really appreciate all your helpful advice!

Nigel, I've been following Lorenzo as well. I have been wondering if it is what is causing the strong winds or if those are just normal for Skye.

Any other advice / suggestions are very welcome!!

Posted by
1226 posts

Talisker Bay is a walk you could do in any weather. It's short, level and ends up on a lovely beach that is spectacular even in crummy weather. There is also a nice walk in Dunvegan called the Two Churches walk (also on the walk highlands site). I would play it by ear and see what the weather does. Watch the weather forecast on BBC Scotland each even at around 6.55pm when you are here, and have a look at Skye Weather on Facebook. It's run by a local amateur meteorologist and is very accurate and more detailed than any other forecast for this area. Skye can experience very different weather in different parts of the island. In May 2018 I went to the COOP in Portree in bright sunshine. When I came out of the shop there was about 2 inches of snow on my car and it kept snowing as I set off home. By the time I got home (Colbost) about 25 miles from Portree it was bright sunshine again and not a snow flake to be seen.

Good luck whatever the weather.

Posted by
1317 posts

Hi Other Julie (!). -

Good advice above. Definitely pick up an OS map of the area. Also download the free app OS Locate onto your phone as a back up. It goes without saying you’ll need to know how to A) read the map and B) locate where you are by knowing how to check your grid reference - it’s very easy and you can google it if you don’t know (OS Locate will tell you the grid ref and then you need to work out where that places you on the map - we found this very useful when we got off track on Cross Fell in dreadful weather a few weeks back). A compass is also useful, most would say mandatory.

That all said, the paths into the areas you want to go are good if memory serves and getting lost shouldn’t be a problem you’ll need to overcome. I’m of the opinion that you should travel hopefully and that it’s always better to set off in all but the worst conditions on the off chance that the weather will improve while you are out and if it doesn’t, well, there’s no shame in turning back.

If the weather forecast is as bad as predicted (once on Skye I would use Mountain Weather Information Service for a detailed an accurate day by day forecast) I would recommend waterproof overtrousers - you can pick up a pair relatively cheaply in Portree I would imagine if you wanted to make a judgement once on Skye.

As for walking poles, I am a convert of long standing and never leave home without them if I’m heading for terrain that might be even a tiny bit challenging. Skye counts on this front!

Have a great trip, no matter what the weather. Skye is majestic!


Posted by
459 posts

Julie be sure to check to see if the bridge is open if the winds are high! Jacqui can address this better than I can but a few years bck we hd to cut our Skye visit short because a hurricane came up the US coast and across and the winds were fierce. Skye was the last few days of our trip and having to catch a plane made it impossible for us to risk being stuck on Skye. (I cant think of a better place to be stuck though!!!) What say Jacqui??

Posted by
1226 posts

Regarding the bridge between Skye and the mainland. In 3.5 years of living here and some pretty fearsome storms I have only ever known the bridge to be closed to high sided vehicles (trucks and large buses). It is extremely unlikely to be closed for cars. They also keep the closure times to the absolute minimum.

Posted by
459 posts

If you make up to Quiraing I would cut across the peninsula and do a quick visit to the Fairy Glen at Uig, pretty cool we had peak experience there with a giant rainbow, awesome. It is kinda hard to find so check out the directions closely on walk highlands and keep your eyes peeled for the turn! Trekking poles really help me on trails that have steep drop offs providing some security for my lame fear of heights, you will be on some trails with steep drops there on Trotternish!

Posted by
9891 posts

Hi Julie, hoping that things are looking better now that you are there.

Posted by
677 posts

Hi all! We’re back stateside and wanted to let you know that we ended up getting really lucky with the weather. We saw sun all of the days we were on Skye; we also saw fog, drizzle and driving rain. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and our hiking. I’ll do a full report later but our absolute favorite was the full Quirang circuit. What incredible scenery and views! It’s a bit surreal. We also enjoyed The Old Man of Storr and Brother’s Point and the Fairy Pools. We didn’t complete Brother’s Point as part of it was too sheer of a drop off for my fear of heights. We saw so many rainbows while we were there. After expecting terrible weather to be treated to a few good views and peeks of sunshine I was over the moon. We had a fabulous time. And I was very happy I brought my trekking poles; my husband did just fine without them. Thanks for all your help!