Sgurr na Stri,
Isle of Skye
Distance: 17 miles Time: 8 hours Type: Round trip
Sgurr na Stri lies within the Black Cuillen, a rocky, forebidding and magical range of mountains on the bottom coast of the Isle of Skye. The peak is only 494 metres high but affords commanding views of some of the tallest peaks on the Island, including Bla Bheinn and Sgurr nan Gillean, as well as Loch Coruisk below. The scenery is quite stunning and a world away from the crowded hikes at the Old Man and the Quirang.
It is possible to take a boat from Elgol to the Loch; otherwise, the hike to the top of Sgurr na Stri requires a long (but rewarding) day's walk. The route described below was roughly improvised and used some some trails which, while appearing on the map, were clearly underused and quite rough going in places. We passed fewer than 10 people all day. This should only be attempted by those with an adventurous spirit and willing to get their feet wet!
Sgurr na Stri can be accessed on foot from either Sligachan to the north or Kilmarie to the east. Either way, it's a long walk so make sure you're prepared. We parked just past Kilmarie at the parking area labelled the 'Camasunary car park' (in reality, just a spot by the road).
From the parking spot a wide, gravel path ascends steadily north-west until you gain a ridge overlooking Camasunary, Sgurr na Stri itself and, across the waters, to the island of Soay. The views here are brilliant. The path then descends to the two houses (one of which appears to be abandoned) at Camasunary. It's a romantic spot - remote and windswept.
One option (the easier) would be to head north along Loch na Creitheach and Loch an Athain to join the path from Sligachan before making the ascent. We chose to save that route for the return and take the (much rougher) route which sits between Sgurr na Stri and the sea. To reach this path, you'll need to cross the river (I suggest doing this slightly further upstream). The path along the coast is not well marked and quite rocky; the wind here is also quite fierce. Eventually, you gain views to the west and lose sight of your previous route: remoteness awaits.
The tricky part of the walk comes slightly further on at a place marked 'the Bad Step' on the map. You'll know it when you hit it: you arrive at a large cliff where the path seems to disappear abruptly and completely. It took us a few minutes to figure out that, wherever the route may have been in the past, it now jumps to a higher spot above the slab of rock. You have to clamber up what looks like a small avalanche area and then locate the path on top of the rock. Trust me, it's there. From there, you descend to a small beach and then wind inland a couple of hundred metres to a spot overlooking Loch Coruisk.
This is a good place for a pause because the path now begins to climb steadily. The aim is to join the path from Sligachan to the north: you can either continue north-easterly to reach the juncture or (as we did) make a short cut and cut across the steep incline to join the path further up the hill. The path continues to climb, eventually reaching the peak with sublime views over Loch Coruisk as well as across the sea to the south.
To return, we headed north on the path to Sligachan, and then turned back to the south east on a path which then runs along the east side of Loch an Athain and Loch na Creitheach. Rather than continuing on to Camasunary, there is a path which diverges and cuts across the slope to the south east. We came across a large family of deer here. Once you gain the top of the ridge, you rejoin the wide flat path back to Kilmarie.