The Isle of Skye has some of Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes, from the high ridges of the Cullins, to the Old Man of Stoer and the Trotternish Ridge. One of the easier to access, and fortunately most dramatic parts of this ridge, is the Qiuraing. A small road passes from the village of Staffin on the West side to Uig in the East. The Quiraing walk can be done in any number of variations, but we like the out-and-back version from the car park at the high point of the road. This gives a relatively easy walk through dramatic scenery, although the path is relatively narrow and can be slippery in places, so some care with small children is needed. The Quiraing walk takes a couple of hours, so can easily be combined with a visit to the dinosaur footprints at An Corran, and a visit to the famous Mealt Falls waterfall just a mile or so down the West coast.
We did this walk on a cold morning in early December, with a cm or so of snow cover just to add to the drama of the views. The walk heads out in a Northerly direction from the car park, following the obvious path. There are some great views early on to the towers and cliffs that make up the Quiraing, and also in the opposite direction along the Trotternish ridge.
After about 10 minutes, the path starts to narrow and begins to traverse a slope, which is a good test of confidence in your child’s footing – it is actually straightforward with no real difficulties, but it is easy to imagine your little one taking a trip, and rolling quite a long way down the hill…
The path continues, with the view opening out in both directions. There are a couple of steeper bits. At one point the path crosses a small stream which has cut into some rock. There are good steps here but again some care is needed. A second point to take care is where the path crosses a small landslip. This looked relatively fresh, with little path worn into it yet.
Eventually you reach the Prison. It’s not an actual prison, but the name of the amphitheatre created by the rock formations. This is a much flatter area sandwhiched between a long tower to your right, and cliffs to your left. There is ample opportunity to explore these depending on your comfort level with exposed drops, but equally you get spectacular views from the main path too.
We would highly recommend walking to the small saddle at the end of the prison, to gain a view out to sea, towards the islands of Lewis and Harris.
Once you have had enough of the rock formations and exploring, you simply retrace your steps to get back to the car. We took about 3 hours in total, but were not going fast, letting our son walk the whole way and taking our time once we got to The Prison.
Due to the steep cliffs it is well worth keeping an eye out for waterfalls being blown uphill on the return journey. Often relatively little wind can cause this effect due to the ridge, and it is quite fun standing uphill of a waterfall, getting spray hitting you in the face.
Overall the walk to the Quiraing is one of the classics on the Isle of Skye and should be a ‘must do’ if you are visiting the area. It has the advantage of being a level walk from the car park, but it is worth remembering that there are plenty of drops around, so some care is needed. Depending on where you are staying on Skye, it can be quite a journey to get there, so it is well worth combining this walk with a couple of other nearby things to do, such as visiting the dinosaur footprints and sandy beach at An Corran, just outside Staffin.
- Location: Isle of Skye
- Nearest town: Staffin
- Length: We did this as an out-and-back walk, reaching The Prison. This was about 4km in total.
- Level of difficulty: The track is very narrow in some sections, with steep drops and a small scramble over a rocky gorge.
- Exposure: Very exposed.
- What to wear: Sturdy boots or walking shoes. Remember to pack as for any day out in the UK; waterproofs, hats and gloves.
- Kid friendly: While it’s not the hilliest of walks, the path can be narrow and steep in places. There is one section that’s a bit of a scramble over a rocky gorge. This is definitely not pushchair friendly, but I reckon is do-able with a back carrier.
- Best time to visit: Any time would be great. We went in mid-December with frost on the ground and while there were plenty of cars in the carpark, we had this walk to ourselves.
- Any tips: Don’t forget snacks and drinks. I can imagine the car park can get quite busy as it’s not the biggest but it looked like people were quickly taking photos and jumping in the cars again so not hanging about, but this was in December so could very well be different in summer. It would be great to spend the whole day here! The roads are also single track with passing places so take care.