Scorrybreac Circuit — A Walk Through Clan Lands

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_32

“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…

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_19

…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.

02_Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_06

03_Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_05

04_Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_04

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

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_09

We went over a bridge…

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_10

…and came to this gate.

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_11

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…

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_12

…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.

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_13

We then walked through this leafy tunnel…

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_14

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

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_15

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_18

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_21

When we got to this gate…

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_24

…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.)

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_25

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

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_26

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

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_27

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:

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_28

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.

Scotland_Skye_Portree_Scorrybreac Circuit_31

Hotels in Portree

Hotels in the Isle of Skye


Continue reading


You know you’re in Scotland when:




Though this one has got a good Westeros game going on:


But Portree, the largest town in Skye, is more than the sum of its puns.

Its most iconic landmark is the harbour, with its colorful buildings and numerous fishing boats.

Scotland_Skye_Portree Harbour_01

Scotland_Skye_Portree Harbour_02

Scotland_Skye_Portree Harbour_03

With a good concentration of hotels and hostels, as well as regular service by Skye’s bus network (definitely more than Portnalong‘s 0-3 a day), Portree is probably the most convenient place to use as a base for exploring Skye, especially if you don’t have a car of your own. We stayed at the centrally located Portree Independent Hostel, which had lovely rooms and a vast kitchen.

Scotland_Skye_Portree Independent Hostel_02

Scotland_Skye_Portree Independent Hostel_01

Just behind PIH, down some steps, is a parking area for campers and the like, as well as a great little map of Skye (by genius J. Maizlish Mole, commissioned by ATLAS Arts) that may not be too informative in the usual sense, but is certainly more entertaining than most maps. Limited edition prints of the map cost £300, but there are postcard-size portions for sale at £1.50 each.







Aside from reading tongue-in-cheek maps, there isn’t very much to do in Portree — it’s really better as a base than as a destination of its own — but I highly recommend taking the time to do the Scorrybreac Circuit, a 3-4 km walk that will take you past the most gorgeous scenery.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!


Hotels in Portree

Hotels in the Isle of Skye


Continue reading