Visiting Isle of Skye; Loch Coruisk

Saturday, September 22, 2018

It has been over a week since we embarked on our Scotland camping trip and I am tired. Last night we had a rough night's sleep in the car and a 4.30 am wake up to catch a ferry from the Isle of Lewis back to the Isle of Skye. So we're feeling a bit lazy. Too lazy to embark on the 3 or 4 hour mountain walk to get to Loch Coruisk, which is supposed to be 'the most magnificent of all Scotland's freshwater Lochs'. Fortunately there is another way to visit this spectacular swim spot: by boat, which sails around the coast and up a large saltwater inlet in between the mountains, before docking up only a ten minute walk away. So, boat it is.
The boats depart from the shore in the teenie tiny village of Elgol and we call in advance to book our tickets for the half three sailing. Done.
On the boat over we are given hot chocolate and a biscuit (score) and are entertained by the skipper's lively prattle about the local history and wildlife. Most interesting is the primary school which sits on the shore here, so small and so close to the sea that on a rough day the kids must get a drenching in the playground. I find out that only ten kids go here... being a part time teacher, I wonder if they're hiring.
Elgol School

Our boat - the Misty Isle

After we disembark from the boat, we follow the path in between the mountains to find ourselves in an enormous, mountainous amphitheatre, surrounded by the tall, misty mountains of the Cuilin range. In the middle of this amphitheatre is the famous Loch Coruisk; steely coloured and mirror like, it has a mysterious feel to it. Water horses, Kelpies, are supposed to live here; mythical, shape-shifting water spirits that have the strength of 100 horses. I feel like at any moment they might appear, racing in to the water from across the mountains.

As we explore further inland the tourists melt away and we feel as if we are entirely alone. The mountains are high and craggy, blocking the wind and the loch is smooth, silvery and silent. It's a cold strip off but the water is delicious and nowhere near as chilly as I was expecting.

"Can you not swim too far please?" Aaron asks 
from the shore. He's on lifeguard duty like usual; choosing not to strip off and join me this time but worried about my feeble swimming abilities in such a wide and cold body of water.
"Why don't you just come in? It's actually really warm," I reply. Aaron just gives me a look. He's heard me say that one too many times; the classic boy who cried wolf.

I mean it though, it isn't particularly cold compared to some of the other Scottish lochs we have visited, in fact this might be one of my favourite swims of the trip so far; the isolated location of this loch is a definite winner, and the water is deep, glassy and cold but not so cold that I feel like an ice cream.

Slippery rocks make for a dodgy take off.

We only have an hour and a half ashore here so all too soon we find ourselves hurrying back to the boat. As much as I have loved Loch Coruisk, I don't fancy an impromptu camp out under the stars without so much as a blanket, and only Aaron and my soggy swimming costume for company. Maybe another time... wild camping here would definitely be an amazing experience. There is also a bothy nearby in Camasunary.

Stop off at the seal colony!
A few hours after we first embarked on the Misty Isle, we are back in the car en-route to Glencoe and on the search for a wild camp spot to spend the night. I could have spent longer in Skye and it was with regret that we drove back over the bridge and in to mainland Scotland. Skye is everything I was expecting and more; I can't recommend it enough and if you do get a chance to go, then make sure you make a stop off at Loch Coruisk, well worth a visit.

Month: August
Temperature: 15 degrees
Bed: Rocks
Weed factor: 3/10
Atmosphere: Misty and mysterious.
Good for: Walking, swimming and wild camping.
Top tips: If you don't fancy the long walk to get here, then I really recommend taking the boat. The price was affordable and they give you a free cuppa and a biscuit. Or walk here and book yourself on the boat back. If you opt to walk instead of the boat, then lots of people start at Kilmarie. Beware that the terrain isn't always the easiest and you will need to pass the 'Bad Step' a tricky section of path on steep terrain.
Access: For the boat, park at the car park by the harbour in Elgol. Alternatively start in Kilmarie to walk. Both villages are served by buses.
Facilities: There are toilets and a small cafe/shop in Elgol.

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