A day of ascent up amongst the craggy peaks of Glen Shiel, home to golden eagles and red deer. Enjoy the greatest mountain vista of the whole route before heading down through a landscape steeped in ancient history en route to the coastal village of Glenelg, with views of Skye ahead.
With mountains all around for much of the walk so far, it is rather fitting that this final day's route takes you up amongst the majestic peaks. A steep ascent up to the mountain pass between Sgurr Mhic Bharraich and Sgurr a' Gharg Gharaidh provides you with an eagle's eye view of the surrounding summits. Perhaps the most impressive sight are the Five Sisters of Kintail, dramatic mountains that rise up to the east on the far side of Glen Shiel.
The route follows the Lochalsh Trail and after resting and enjoying the incredible views, the path drops steeply to the west following the waters of Allt a' Ghleannain cutting into a gorge on the lower slopes. Red deer are frequent here and there is every chance to see golden eagle soaring above, passing between the summits. Heading out through open moorland the trail enters a small section of forestry before tracking back south and then east to follow the winding waters of Abhainn a' Ghlinne Bhig through Gleann Beag.
The trail finishes in the coastal village of Glenelg, with a wide bay facing the peaks of eastern Skye across the Kyle Rhea.
The ascent up into the mountain pass is a major highlight of the whole walk. Take your time on the steep climb in order to rest up and enjoy the incredible vista that improves with every step upward! The view from the highest point provides perfect photographic opprtunities in every direction.
The route is rich in wildlife from start to finish. Golden eagle and red deer are frequent in the higher ground and the coast offers one of the best places to find otters feeding amongst the weedy boulders. There is even the chance to spot Britain's largest bird of prey, the sea eagle, flying along and fishing in the Kyle Rhea channel. This stretch of water also attracts porpoise, dolphins and even basking sharks.
Historical attactions abound and the incredibly well preserved iron age brochs that sit right by the trail are a must see. Just north of Glenelg are the remains of Bernera Barracks, built in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising. In the early 18th century its presence secured a safe passage from the mainland to Skye and beyond.
Also at the coast, a more recent method for safe passage comes in the form of the famous Skye Ferry. Still carrying those wishing to travel 'over the sea to Skye' it is a splendid way to extend your travels to this majestic island.
The initial sections (first 5km) up into the mountains involve steep walking up a rocky path. The area is very exposed to the elements and it is most important to keep warm and dry. The path can be slippery and extra care is advised. At the pass and on to the descent, the wind can be very strong from the west as it is funnelled between the surrounding peaks. During the decsent the path is steep and can be slippery with steep drops to the left.
The open moorland can be very boggy and wet and one should keep to the path as much as possible to avoid cold wet feet. Deer frequent the region and ticks can be an issue in the heather. Midges are of course an unavoidable nuisance in the Summer months, especially near water and when it is calm, warm and overcast. A good repellent should keep them at bay, and they are much less frequent in windy conditions.
There is a section of quiet road on the final kilometers into Glenelg, but one should be aware of traffic on the bends.
Mobile phone coverage is poor or non existent throughout the route.
Waterproof boots with good ankle support are a must. Waterproof and windproof clothing is of course also a necessity, with gloves and hat to keep out the cold in the exposed upland landscape. Walking poles will assist on the ascents and descents. Midge repellent for the Summer months should provide some respite from the ubiquitous flying insects.
Packed lunches can be arranged via the accommodation in Shiel Bridge. It is wise to book these upon check in, the day prior to walking. There is no where to purchase any supplies along the route until Glenelg is reached. Glenelg Inn offers dining, and while this accommodation will hold a table for booked clients, it is wise to reserve a table in advance.
There is very little in the way of a mobile phone signal in Glenelg, but the Glenelg Inn does have a land line telephone that may be used for any matters of urgency/emergency.
Kyle Taxis offer a very good service back to Shiel Bridge to connect with onward public transport.