Skye 9: Sleat and the Kinloch Forest Leitir Fura Walk

The legs were good this morning after our long walk yesterday but the gluteus maximus did make me aware of a few twinges first thing – getting the buttocks in shape is never a bad thing!!

There is one last bit of Skye we have yet to visit and explore, Sleat down on the south west of the island – so that’s where we set off for today. I also found a walk for us to do…….Mr L thought he was getting a day off from walking……the walk was identified as ‘delightful through gentle woodland above Loch na Dal and the Sound of Sleat’ (the bit of sea between Skye and the mainland), plus it was only a mere 4 miles.

We decided to do the Sleat peninsula touring bit first so it was back to Broadford which is the first ‘town’ you come to when you arrive via the Skye Bridge and a fairly inconsequential boring place in our opinion! We drove down to Armadale which is where the Mallaig (on the mainland) and Skye ferry is based. It was a pretty little area and we stopped for coffee and cake (lunch). Mr L then decided that exploring Sleat meant taking off across wild and remote moors and hills. It was a barenuckle ride from Kilbeg to Tarskavaig to Tokavaig to Ord and then back to the main road just north of Sasaig. The cross country route was single track all the way (with the occasional passing place) but with gradients that varied from 14-20%, and deemed not suitable for caravans! When you got to the top of a hill you had no idea where the road was going to go when you got over the top……neither did you know if there was another vehicle approaching – exhilarating or what (not)! The best bit was on one of these incredibly steep hills up to a blind summit which had ‘slow’ written on the road…….well if you hadn’t slowed right down you would have been off the road and down the side of a cliff as there was no road unless you turned sharp right. The A851 was pure luxury after that little nerve-wracking detour!

We headed back to Kinloch Forest which sits at the top of Loch na Dal. It is also where Kinloch Lodge is, home to the Clan MacDonalds and a Michelin star restaurant run by Lady Claire MacDonald.

The Leitir Fura walk follows part of the route of the old drover’s path which would have originally gone on to Kylerhea. The circular route took us to Leitir Fura, the site of a small village abandoned in the 19th century.

 

Abandoned village of Leitir Fura

Abandoned village of Leitir Fura

Approximately 40 people lived on this site at one time, mostly of Clan MacInnes, and they looked after the forest for their landlord, the Chieftain of Clan Donald of Sleat. Most of the inhabitants left for a new life in Nova Scotia, it is not clear as to whether this was by choice or they were forced to go as part of the Islands and Highlands clearances. Descendants of the Selkirk Settlers, 600 emigrants from Skye and Raasay who set sail from Portree, Skye for Nova Scotia in the summer of 1803, planted a commemorative oak tree on this site in 2003.

The walk was incredibly scenic with blue skies overhead, the blue water of Loch na Dal and the Sound of Sleat in the distance, the peak of Beinn Sgritheall, and the village of Knoydart across the water complete with lighthouse – all within a single viewpoint.

Loch

Loch na Dal and out to Sound of Sleat

Loch na Dal

Loch na Dal

The walk took us 2 hours including mooch time in the abandoned village site. It was then time to head back to our cottage for our last night on Skye.

All those extras we brought with us to fill the time on the rainy miserable days will be going home unused thanks to wall-to-wall sunshine and temperatures up to 18-20c every day – not what we expected on our Inner Hebridean Isle of Skye!

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