Scorrybreac Circuit — A Walk Through Clan Lands

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“How about a short walk?” My sister said at around noon on our first day in Portree, in the Isle of Skye. We had just had brunch and truthfully I was feeling a bit sluggish — well, who wouldn’t, after a plateful of bacon, scrambled eggs, fried haggis, and fried bread — so I eagerly said yes.

(And not to totally veer off topic but, my God, that fried bread! I can feel my arteries clogging at just the memory of that bread — and I come from an island where people snack on chicharon without batting an eyelash, so that’s saying something. I’m glad I got to try it that one time but I think I’ll go for something less oily in the future.)

(And since we’re talking about food, you know what would be the perfect thing to pair with haggis? Rice. Steaming hot Ganador rice fresh off the rice cooker. Oh, the joy…)

Anyway: short walk, said my sister.

About an hour later, we were short of breath, climbing up rocky paths, struggling with hike-inappropriate shoes (my sister) and a hike-inappropriate large, full, crossbody bag (me), because apparently what the guide book meant by a “short walk” and what we thought the guide book meant by a “short walk” were two totally different things, but…

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…God, for views such as that one above, I would gladly go on a “short walk” with an unwieldy bag over and over and over again.

From Portree Harbour, we simply followed the road towards Staffin and then took the right-hand road at the fork, down Scorrybreac Road, keeping continuously close to the coast.

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After a while, we found this sign, the official start of the Scorrybreac Circuit.

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We went over a bridge…

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…and came to this gate.

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According to the clan’s website, the Chiefs of Clan MacNeacail lived for a long time at the house of Scorrybreac, on Ben Torvaig, and were called Nicolson of Scorrybreac. Their direct descendants eventually moved to other parts of the world. In the early 1980s, when the lands of nearby Ben Chracaig were put up for sale, Nicolson clan members in Skye and around the world decided to buy it “to be held in perpetuity for conservation and the enjoyment of both the local people and the visitors to Portree from around the world.” The land is now administered by Urras Clann MhicNeacail (the Nicolson Clan Trust) and kept “freely open to the public, to walk its footpaths and enjoy spectacular views both from along the shoreline and from atop its high cliffs.”

So we entered the gate. At this point…

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…you can go left and up towards the memorial for the Nicolson Clan. There’s also a bench there if you want to take a break and sit gazing at the sea for a while.

We chose not to linger and took the path on the right.

We came across this well dedicated “To the Glory of God and in grateful memory of those of Clan Nicolson who died for their countries in the cause of justice.” It’s called Murdo’s Well because it was built by Murdo Nicolson of Portree, who also built the memorial cairn.

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We then walked through this leafy tunnel…

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…and continued along the coastal path, surrounded by some of the most beautiful land and seascapes around Portree.

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When we got to this gate…

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…we didn’t go through. (You’re not supposed to.) Instead, we turned left and went uphill — the start of the more challenging part of the walk. (It’s not too difficult, really, just more challenging compared to the mostly flat terrain previously.)

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But the views are beyond rewarding, don’t you think?

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And then we got to the top, where we spied some cattle, and it was easy goings from there onwards.

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An easy downhill path took us back to the starting point.

I did most of the planning for this whole UK thing, but all credit for this amazing post-fried-bread “short walk” goes to:

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Thanks also to the Nicolson Clan for establishing and maintaining the path. If you are ever in Portree, the Scorrybreac Circuit is definitely something you should do.

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Hotels in Portree

Hotels in the Isle of Skye


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5 thoughts on “Scorrybreac Circuit — A Walk Through Clan Lands”

  • Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! I would do that ‘short walk’ in a heartbeat. You got some wonderful photos. I love your enthusiasm for all your travel experiences that shines through your writing.

    • Yes! If I’d seen that leafy tunnel somewhere in the internet, I would immediately want to go there. So it was a bit surreal when we were walking and I realized…wait…how cool is this tunnel?! (By the way, I forgot to tell you I finished reading the book and it was great! And on a side note, I hope they live happily ever after.)

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