Idrigill Point, Skye

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The views over the sea to the left of this walk distinguish it instantly from anywhere else. In the distance, possibly capped with cloud, the Black Cuillin (mountains) form a close group. There is a good chance of seeing golden and sea eagles from this walk, particularly near the start. Soon, the farm road becomes a track and rounds a small sea loch known as Loch Bharcasaig, passes an attractive cottage, boathouse and sheep fank and enters the forest. In 2009 this forest appeared severely windblown and the track soon re-emerged to clear-felled areas with views over the sea.

After crossing a small burn, its name, Forse, reminding us the Vikings were here before us, there is a gate and waymark. Continue over the hill and descend into Rebel's Wood, a memorial to Joe Strummer, lead singer with The Clash. (See? Culture, too!)

The path passes Brandarsaig, an abandoned village and after another rise and descent to another burn, the ruins of Idrigill itself. The 13 to 16 houses here were black houses, built long like the Viking houses, but abandoned between 1824 and 1877. Feannagain (cultivation ridges known in English as lazy-beds) are everywhere. They were usually fertilised by seaweed drawn up from the shore. If you imagine them growing potatoes, oats and kail (a type of cabbage) you have quite a farming scene. What was the productivity? Were they all in use at once? How many people depended on this subsistence for all their food, even through the winter? The path weaves over some of the ridges before turning gradually westward to follow a valley, the Glac Ghealairidh, through to Idrigill Point.

McLeod's Maidens are the celebrated sea stacks south-west of one of the headlands. According to legend they are the wife and daughters of the chief of the Clan McLeod (pronounced M'Cloud). What they did to deserve such a fate, you'll have to research. Perhaps there is a story linking them with the McLeod's Tables (Healabhal Bheag and Healabhal Mor) to the north. The Maidens are easily seen from the level moorland above the cliffs; you do not have to go to the edge of the cliff to see them.

The return journey, by the same route, feels as though a film is being rewound and the familiar landmarks pass in reverse order. As the gradient is predominantly uphill on the way out, the return journey is easier. Keep a lookout for those eagles as you near Bharcasaig and Orbost.

By the time you return and savour the day, you may come to the conclusion that you came to see rugged natural architecture, but the real heroes of the walk are the bygone stalwarts of Idrigill and Brandasaig who cultivated to the very tops of the hills.

Scotland - Highlands and Islands - Highland - Skye

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Moor, Sea, Waterfall, Wildlife, Woodland
23/09/2018 - Richard Lloyd

17th September 2018 Sadly the rain of previous days meant we failed at the Forse Burn - a raging torrent with little opportunity to circumnavigate. Another time - we hope.

31/07/2016 - Jen Williams

Great walk fantastic view at the end as a reward.

12/09/2013 - Alison Gilbert

A fabulous walk. After several days of heavy and incessant rain, the moorland parts of the walk were pretty boggy, and the streams an 'interesting challenge', but still accessible even to a couple of soft southerners like ourselves! We shall certainly return to redo it in the future.