Armadale To Dunvegan By Sligachan And Glendale

Western Edge

ROUTE LENGTH: 57 MILES

By Road

This is a drive-and-see-islands route, somewhat. We start in Armadale, reachable from ferry from Mallaig. From Armadale, take the A851 north, eventually coming to Skulamus. After there, turn right on the A87 to Breakish. Return to the A851 junction, continue west along the A87. The isle of Scalpey will be visible on the right. Eventually you will come to Sconser.

From Sconser, take the ferry to Raasey. Raasey House is just up from the ferry terminal. The chapel and pictish stone are to the left of the House.

Return to the ferry and travel back to Sconser. Continue west (right turn) along the A87 to Sligachan. Take the left onto the A863 onto Drynoch. Before Drynoch itself take a left onto the B8009 to Minginish. To reach Kilmoruy, turn left at Carbost onto Eynort. The church is beyond the village. To reach Talisker Distillery and Minginish, return to Carbost and follow the B8009.

Return to Drynoch, follow A863 to Bracadale. Follow A863 to reach the shores and chapel over Loch Caroy. Follow road, but take left onto B884 to Glendale.

Backtrack along B884, then take left to Dunvegan.

By Cycle

This is a 10 hour cycle route, with many steep ascents and declines. Be prepared. Fortunately Skye has accommodation to break up your journey.

Arriving at Armadale from the ferry from Mallaig, cycle up into the village and take a right onto A851. Follow north, eventyally passing Skalamus. Before on the right will be St Maelrubha’s Well andBaptistery. Afterward, turn right onto the road to Breakish, where the burial ground will be beyond Acaish.

Follow the A87 to Sconser, where you will take the ferry to Raasey. The chapel is just up the hill, to the left of Raasey House.

Afterwards, return to Sconser by ferry. Follow A87, but turn left at the split at Sligachan onto A863 to Drynoch. Before reaching this village, turn left onto B8009, and take the next left and follow toEynort. Return up, and you can visit Talisker’s Distillery too.

After this route, return to junction with A863, and turn left to Drynoch. Follow north, stopping at the chapel by Loch Caroy, which will be on your left. Contine on, but before reaching Dunvegan, take a left onto B884 to reach Glendale. Then return, and take the left to reach Dunvegan.

By Foot

To walk this entire route will be a two- or three-day venture (at least 30 hours).

By Public Transport

Take the MacLean Coaches 601 from opposite Armadale’s Clan Donald Centre to Sconser Ferry RoadEnd. From Sconser, take the ferry to Raasey. Raasey House is just up from the ferry terminal. The chapel and pictish stone are to the left of the House.

Return to the ferry and travel back to Sconser. Take the 918 (dir Uig) to Sligachan, then 608 (dir. Fiskavaig) to Glendrynoch Junction, then walk to Drynoch. Take the 608 to Portree, then the 619 to Bracadale. You can take the 619 or 6100 from Bracadale to Dunvegan.

To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.

Skye has over nine hundred miles of coastline, and a series of complex peninsulas or ‘wings’, giving rise to Sgitheach, ‘the winged isle’. The early Christian sites are distributed along the two sea channels to the west and east. We begin to the south at Armadale where you can arrive by road or ferry. Isle Ornsay- the island of St Oran- in the Sound of Sleat watches over the southern approaches with its lighthouse and ruined chapel. Proceeding by the eastern side, Pabay or Priests’s Isle is off Broadford with its early ruined chapel. Also on the shoreline south-east of Broadford, just before the village of Skulamus, is St Maelrubha’s Well and Baptistery. Turning right onto the minor road to Lower Breakish, this important site is at Acaish just beyond the burial ground. The rock on the opposite side of the stream is known as the saint’s preaching rock- an outpost of Maelrubha’s headquarters at Applecross on the mainland.

Next off Loch Ainort is the island of Scalpay which also has an early chapel, now in ruins, beside Scalpay House. These eastern islands continue with Raasay which looks over to the mainland at Applecross. Access to Raasay is by ferry from Sconser. Close to Raasay House is the Celtic chapel of St Moluag, who is a presence all up the east side of Skye to Kilmaluag at the northern tip. There is a Pictish symbol stone carved in the rock on the shore by the chapel with a cross and the chi/ro symbol of Christ. Raasay is known in modern times as the birthplace of the Gaelic poet, Sorley Maclean, and for the homemade road which Calum Macleod doggedly created over many years to the north end. North of Raasay is the island of Rona, sometimes called South Rona to distinguish it from North Rona off the Butt of Lewis. This Rona has a ruined chapel, An Teampuill, built with rubble and shell lime. On the east of the island is the Giant’s Cave which seems to have been used as a place of early worship. Rona is now uninhabited and can only be reached by hiring a boat, from an experienced local seagoer able to negotiate its rocky landing places safely.

At Sligachan we swing west up into the Cuillins. This is a dramatic route, celebrated by Sorley MacLean in his epic poem on the mountains. The road leads to Drynoch, birthplace of a much earlier but equally famous poet, Mary MacLeod. From there you can go southwards into Minginish. At Borline on the shores of Loch Eynort is an important early settlement at Kilmoruy. This was the Church of St Maelrubha, founded from his monastery at Applecross on the mainland. The shaft of a Celtic High Cross still stands in the burial ground, depicting the crucifixion on one side and an abbot on the other. This may be an image of Maelrubha. The alternative Minginish road leads to the Talisker Distillery.

Returning north by the same Glen Eynort road, we continue up the coast by Bracadale. Headlands and islands appear to the west where we get our first sightings of Skye’s sea cliffs, which are the highest in Britain. On the shore of Loch Caroy there is an Episcopal burial ground, St John’s Chapel, where there is a memorial to Flora Swire who was killed in the Lockerbie bombing, Scotland’s worst peacetime atrocity.

Before reaching Dunvegan, take the left hand road to Glendale. We are now in Duirinish in the far northwest, with its scattered townships , some of them abandoned in the clearance times, and ancient connections with Ireland. The valley of Glendale
which starts high up at MacLeod’s Tables, opens towards the Minch with some fine views over to Uist in a clear day. Glendale was a centre of the Druidic religion, and Columba came here to establish Christianity. An early burial ground lies at the mouth of the glen with a chapel mound. The font survives in a gatepost towards the river. There are also substantial remains of a monastery further up the glen, accessible only by foot. The earliest dedication here was to Congan, an associate of Columba.

Coming back towards Dunvegan, which is the main village in the northwest, we see Dunvegan Castle, the ancient fortress of Clan MacLeod, on the far side of Loch Dunvegan with its strategic, sheltered anchorage. The old Church of St Mary sits above the village and there is an attractive ‘Two Chuches Walk’ taking you along the gentle hillside and then back round to the present Duirinish Parish Chrch at the north end of Dunvegan.

Whoever dwells in the secret place of the most high
Will be under the shadow of the almighty.
I will say to God, he is my tower and refuge,
I will put my trust in him.
He will set you free from the trapper’s snare,
He will cover you with his feathers
And shelter you under his wings
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night
Or the arrow that flies by daylight.
For he shall give his angels charge over you
To keep you in all your ways,
They will carry you up in their hands
And not allow your foot to strike a stone;
You shall walk upon the jackal and the adder
And tread upon the lion and the dragon.
( from Psalm 91 )

Pilgrim Journeys

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