Scotland - Highlands and Islands - Skye
Loch Coruisk Boat Trip
Loch Scavaig and the Cuillins
The day was perfect. A cobalt turquoise and green sea and a fresh wind from the north east tempered by the mountains. The Cuillin Hills provide the backdrop for stunning views across Loch Scavaig towards our destination.
Misty Isle Boat Trips are a long established family run operation and you can be sure of a warm welcome from Seamus, Stuart and Anne Mackinnon. Trips depart from Elgol, a small fishing settlement of 150 inhabitants with a shop, cafe and a primary school with just 18 pupils.
As well as being known for landing and selling some of the best quality seafood in the world, Elgol is famous for it's nearby caves. It was here in what is now known as the Star Cave that Bonnie Prince Charlie hid for the last two nights of his escape from English forces after the Jacobite Rebellion. Captain John Mackinnon, an ancestor of our current skipper, ferried him over from here to Mallaig on the mainland from where 'the Pretender' escaped to France.
After our group of about 30 board the vessel there's a brief introduction in Gaelic and English before casting off.
Loch, sea and sky
To the south lie the small isles of the inner Hebrides, Soay, Rum and Eigg. Soay, closest to us, was bought by the author Gavin Maxwell after 2nd World War where he tried to establish a Basking Shark fishery. Quite how this fitted in with his interest in conservation should perhaps be put down to eccentricity and being a product of his time.
Just behind Soay to the south is the isle of Rum, the only one of the Inner Hebrides to boast mountains with it's own 'Rum Cuillins' reaching over 800 meters in height and today dusted in a white coating of snow.
It's the view of the Cuillins to the north that fix our attention though, a view that people travel the world to see. The Red Cuillins are slightly lower, more rounded gentle hills of red granite, whilst the Black Cuillins are higher with sharper peaks of black Gabbro - a coarse grained volcanic rock providing excellent grip for climbing. Those interested in tackling the mountains here might be put off if they were to translate the Gaelic names to English. A jagged mountain called 'Peak of the Executioner' would make you think twice.
View over Loch Coruisk looking North
Before long we have crossed the bay and are approaching Loch Coruisk. On the way there we pass the 'Bad Step' which is a steep slab of rock you have to tackle if you want to walk back from Loch Coruisk to Elgol and one of its main features. Get it wrong and you'll end up in the sea!
Wildlife here is abundant, including common seals, which are actually not the most common species, grey seals, dolphins, porpoises, and birds including Eider, Shelduck and Golden Eagles. Although some animals are more elusive than others, you are pretty much guaranteed the sight of seals lazing around in the sunshine on rocks near the shore, or popping their heads up from the water for a look at the boat.
We tie up, climb metal steps and walk a short distance up a path to where the fresh water from Loch Coruisk flows down into the sea, rather like one of those Infinity swimming pools - river, then sea and sky all merging into one.
The journey back
Cross over stepping stones and from here the view of the loch and surrounding mountains begins to open up - keep walking and the view gets better. Loch Coruisk lies at the centre of a horseshoe of peaks, with Sgurr Alasdair, the highest and most difficult of Skye's Cuillin nearby. It is a truly stunning location and I agree with one of my fellow passengers who had travelled to mountainous regions from Tibet to Canada, that you will not find anything better than this anywhere else - equal to maybe, but not better.
I spend an hour walking near the loch and being wowed by the scenery before heading back for a warm cup of tea on the boat. Over half the passengers have stayed behind to walk further and will be picked up later in the day, so we head off back to Elgol with the waves pushing us along.
Misty Isle Boat Trips contact details:
Address: Misty Isle Boat Trips
Sealladh na Mara
Isle of Skye
Website: Misty Isle Boat Trips
- Getting there: You can travel to the Isle of Skye as a foot passenger or with a car on the ferry from Mallaig - take the A830 from Fort William. Alternatively use the road bridge over the Kyle of Lochalsh which entails a longer journey via the A82 and A87. To get to Elgol on the Isle of Skye take the B8083 which is quite narrow and steep in places. For further details on planning a route please visit the Travel Information section.
Mystery Traveller, 5th April 2012