The Quiraing is a stunning landscape in the north of the Isle of Skye, formed by a massive landslip, which has created high cliffs, hidden plateaus and pinnacles of rock.
This is an absolute must when visiting the highlands! The walk features many tremendous crags and summits and the peak has one of the most spectacular views on the Isle of Skye.
There are a number of trails to take around The Quiraing depending on your confidence, time and ability, however below I have detailed is the main hike for this area. It is characterised by three key landscape features: The Prison, The Needle, The Table, all created by volcanic rock and landslides.
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland
Entrance fee: No
Altitude: 543 m
Trip duration: 2h circuit
Before you go
Pack: Water. Food is optional, a small kiosk is usually open in the car park selling coffee and tea and a variety of hot food including soup and hotdogs.
Wear: Layers of comfortable walking clothes; weather changes quickly in Scotland therefore it’s always best to be prepared. Waterproof, non-slip shoes are also a must – the trail is often wet and muddy.
Check the Weather: It’s also important to note that this hike cannot be done safely in wet or misty weather.
Getting to the starting point
The carpark is easily accessed, just 10 minutes off the main A855 route which circles the Isle of Skye.Keep in mind that parking spaces are limited during the busier months, and if you are struggling to find a spot, you can also park lower down the slope beside a graveyard and take an alternative hiking route up to the main area.
Alternatively, Go Skye runs a shuttle from Portree or Storr during the warmer months.
Getting onto the trail
The trail begins right at the car park. From the carpark you can see impressive views looking north at the ‘Prison’ – a rock structure shaped like a medieval prison – and the high cliff face.The track can become muddy and slippery during and after heavy rain so try to find stable footing and try to take a path with more grass than mud for stability.
PART 1: THE PRISON
Follow the path heading towards the Prison, with the slope of the edge to your right.After about 10mins you will decend down a rock gorge where you will need to cross a small stream.If you are pressed for time, or unsure of your ability on narrow trails or of the weather, you can shorten this walk by reaching the Prison, then returning along the same path easily back to the carpark.If you continue onwards to the Prison and above, it will require some basic scrambling skills – there are no sheer drops or daunting slopes but the rocky terrain may require you to use your hands a little to stabilise yourself!
PART 2: THREADING THE NEEDLE
The path leads on towards the Prison, and then passes through a gap between the Prison and the high cliffs – you will need to scramble slightly up this rocky slope to continue – and then you will be able to see another rock formation – the Needle.Just after passing both the Prison and the Needle you will come to a wire fence with steps to climb over. Once over, keep heading upwards and left.
PART 3: THE TABLE
At one point the path will divide into two and is marked by a pile of rocks – take the left path to keep the cliff on your left.Work your way up the slope, at times the path can be wet and muddy. The worn route becomes a ladder of turf footsteps, so try to stabilise your footings as best as possible.Soon you will reach the summit which overlooks the grassy meadow called the Table.
Reaching the destination
When you get to the summit at 540m you can look over the cliff edge to be rewarded with the spectacular landscape of the Table below; a flat glassy plateau surrounded by rock formations and cliff faces. It is said that in ancient times, the Table is reputed to have been a meeting place for the local clan and it is rumoured that ‘shinty’, a Scottish Highlands game similar to hockey, has been played on top. It is also said that Farmers also used this area and to conceal livestock from Viking raiders.
The trail is a circuit, and taking either the main path that moves away from the clifftop or the less worn path that follows the cliff top, both will eventually will lead you back to the carpark.