Are you visiting the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands? Do you love to hike? If your family is looking for an idyllic and beautiful place to go on a hike, the Quiraing Walk in Scotland’s Isle of Skye should be at the top of the list. With its breathtaking views and challenging terrain, Quiraing Walk is an ideal spot for hikers who want to experience the magnificent beauty Scotland has to offer. After a fun adventure, I am sharing 7 tips for hiking Scotland’s Quiraing Walk on the Beautiful Isle of Skye.
Quiraing Walk, or Quiraing Circuit, is a 4 mi/6.5 km loop trail rated as moderate. There is an elevation gain of 1,286 ft/391 m and the trail takes an average of 3-4 hours to complete. The trailhead is located at the parking lot (or car park!) on the Trotternish Loop, which is a road that runs between Staffin and Uig.
Fun Fact! Quiraing or cuith-raing means round fold in Norse. And refers to a land slip on the north summit of Totternish. Check out this page for a pronunciation.
Walk or Hike?
Ah! The regional differences in English. In the United Kingdom, where Quiraing is located, the word walk can mean any walk such as a leisurely stroll in the park or a difficult hours long hike. On the other side of the pond in English speaking North America, walk usually refers to a leisurely stroll while hike is the preferred term for longer walks, usually in mountains or deserts, that require greater physical exertion. Since I am on the North American side of the pond, I will mostly use the word hike in this post!
Our Quiraing Walk
Sal and I hiked the Quiraing Walk on a Sunday in July. We started the hike at 10:30am and finished at 1:49pm. It took us a bit over 3 hours in total to finish the hike. This was my fault. I kept stopping to take a lot of photos and to take in the scenery at the beginning of the hike! The views are spectacular! The waterfalls are gorgeous!
While we intended to hike the Quiraing Walk in a loop as shown on the map. But along the way we lost the trail and ended up following the crowds of people off the trail on to another 0.9 mile out and back trail that is not a part of the official Quairing Circuit. This trail ended on a cliff overlooking breathtaking scenery and the North Atlantic Ocean. It. Was. Gorgeous.
Above is the map of the Quiraing Walk that we intended to do. And below the version of the Quiraing Walk that we did.
I made a note in the post about the Old Man of Storr Walk, that I could not find any trial markers during our hikes in Scotland. So that downloaded offline map might come in handy!
On the way back, unsure of where the second part of the trail was, we went out the way we came. So instead of a loop trail experience, we did the Quiraing Walk as an out and back trail. For that reason, we cannot speak to the second half of this trail. But we did hear from fellow hikers that the top or upper trail is very muddy and boggy.
Oh, and we hiked Quiraing Walk counterclockwise, so we only did the lower trail.
All in all, with the additional 0.9 miles, probably walked 5 miles on this hike.
Unfortunately, Buddy did not visit the Isle of Skye during his choir’s trip to Scotland. In fact, while we went north to visit the Scottish Highlands, Buddy and his choir traveled south to preform in venues in England and Wales. So, this post will not share a teenager’s perspective about this hike.
A casual teenage hiker, Buddy would have joined us on this trek if he had been traveling with us. However, because the trail is slippery and there are some steep drops in some areas, I would not recommend this trail for littles without a carrier.
Although Buddy did not join us on this hike, he and his choir did take a Scottish Highlands tour from Edinburgh to Glencoe and Loch Ness. He took a Loch Ness cruise and got to see the famous highland cows! Buddy’s Scottish Highlands Tour is above in case you are interested in doing the tour!
7 tips for hiking Scotland’s Quiraing Walk
1. Be prepared to pay for parking
The Quiraing Car Park is located at JPH5+7H Portree, United Kingdom across the street and slightly west of the Quiraing Walk’s trailhead.
Unfortunately, parking is not free. However, the parking meters take both cash and card, which makes paying for parking easy. So, bring either your card or some cash for the parking meters.
Also, get there early. The parking lot does fill up, so get there early to make sure you have a spot.
When we visited, parking was £3 for three hours and then more after that. If you plan on doing the full hike, make sure you pay more than the three hours, just in case you are delayed. We paid for three hours and were rushing back to the car because we went over our time! Luckily, we did not get a ticket, perhaps because it was a Sunday. But, if I were to do this again, I would pay for at least an hour more than what we think we will need so we aren’t rushing back to the car in a mad dash at the end of the hike.
2. Plan for no facilities
Quiraing Walk is a great day hike for families or travelers looking for an outdoor adventure; however, there are no bathrooms or other facilities available along the way. Yup! That’s right. There are no out houses or port-a-potties in the in the parking lot. And, to make matters worse, there are no trees or bushes near the trail to go behind. So, plan accordingly. Use the restroom before you get there or bring your own toilet paper and pack it out. But know that you may have to walk a while off the trail before you find a rock for some privacy if you must go.
Well hydrated on this hike, I had to use the restroom about halfway through the hike. I’ll just say that it was an uncomfortable walk back and drive back to Staffin. Next time, I will plan accordingly and not drink so much coffee!
3. Do go crossing waterfalls
On the Quiraing Walk, you will cross a few waterfalls. They are lovely and it is a beautiful experience. However, this beautiful experience is slippery. Since parts of the Quiraing Walk can be quite slippery due to wet grass or mud, it’s important that everyone wears appropriate shoes like hiking boots with good grip. But more on what to wear soon!
Yes, the ground is slippery. Even with my hiking shoes , I slipped and fell once on this hike during our attempt to rush back to our car before the meter ran out. After that, I slowed down. It is very slippery, and injuries can happen. So, my best advice is to watch your step and don’t go fast.
4. Watch out for poop!
We are not the only ones on the Quiraing Walk. There are also sheep on the trail. And with sheep comes sheep poop. Lots and lots of sheep poop!
There is a lot of sheep poop on the trail that we stepped on so make sure that you are watching your step. And just know that your shoes will get dirty.
5. Plan for crowds
Due to its popularity with tourists, there are often large crowds on Quiraing Walk. Be prepared to share the trail with lots of other hikers. Practice good trail etiquette, yield to hikers going uphill, and be kind. And if you do manage to find yourself alone on the trial then take advantage—it’s a unique experience not many people get to have!
Sal and I hiked the Quiraing Walk during peak season and there were a lot of people on the trail! Fellow hikers included elders, hikers with photography gear (the scenery is just astonishing!), and hikers with journals who sat down and wrote or drew on the trail. And a lot of hikers brough packed lunches and at them in the middle of the hike, which is a smart thing to do! But the crowds were so large that we did not have a moment on the trail by ourselves, not even on a Sunday morning!
Question for all the European hikers out there, is it common to say hello to fellow hikers on the trial? Does it vary by country? I know that the hello and head nod it is something that is commonly done among fellow hikers on trails in the States and in Canada. But the hello was hit or miss during our hikes in Scotland and Ireland. Some fellow hikers were super friendly and greeted us with a hello and a smile and others just walked by. What is common practice?
6. What to bring on the Quiraing Walk
For this three-hour hike, bring a full water bottle, sunscreen (yes sunscreen! the clouds can be deceiving, we did get a little burned!), lip balm to protect your lips from the wind, an offline map, and layers as the weather can quickly change in the area.
Also, bring snacks or pack a lunch. The grocery stores in Portree cater to hikers and offer premade sandwiches, fruit, trail mix, and other easy to grab and go items to take as snacks or meals on your hike. If you are packing a lunch, reusable sandwich bags and collapsible meal kits are helpful.
Although we are not newbies to hiking, tired at the end of our third week of traveling, we did make some mistakes while hiking Quiraing Walk. First, and surprising because we are desert hikers, we did not have our water bottles! We forgot them in the car! Rookie (and potentially dangerous) mistake. The other item that we forgot at the Airbnb (but did use when hiking in Ireland) was our day pack. Instead, I hiked with my crossbody bag. And as much as I love that bag, it is not meant for hiking! It kept sliding around and throwing me off balance. Never again will I make that mistake.
7. What to wear on the Quiraing Walk
As the weather can change very quickly on the Quiraing Walk, you might want to dress in layers. Also, and waterproof and wind proof jackets, waterproof pants, and waterproof hiking boots are a must.
As desert dwellers and hikers, we had to purchase wind and waterproof items to hike in Scotland. Because I had no experience hiking in boggy conditions, I opted for these Columbia Hiking Shoes because they are high top and waterproof hiking boots. The only thing about these boots is that they did not have great arch support. For that reason, I purchased some insoles.
I also bought this lined Columbia rain jacket which protected me very well from the chilly wind and rain. And I bought REI Co-op rain pants which protected me well on this hike but did get me a bit wet when it poured on us all day in Blarney, Ireland.
I also recommend sweat wicking or fast dry clothing for the Quiraing Walk. Because you will sweat on this hike, but it is also cold and windy, and you do not want your clothes to retain moisture.
And lastly, I do not recommend white or light-colored shoes for this wet and muddy hike! You will get dirty.
Buddy and I created an entire Scotland packing list for your reference that you can find here!
Sal’s thoughts about the Quiraing Walk
At the end of the hike, I asked Sal if he recommends Quiraing Walk and he said yes! Also, we did not film a Movement Postcard on this hike. Maybe next time!
Quiraing Walk is definitely worth the hike if you’re looking into exploring some of Scotland’s most awe-inspiring views with your family. This stunning landscape is worth a visit!
Have you hiked Quiraing Walk? If so, what are your recommendations? Let us know in the comments below.
Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out these blog posts!
- Exploring the Isle of Skye in One Day: The Ultimate Guide
- Old Man of Storr Walk: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- Tips for Visiting the Famous Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
- Brother’s Point: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- 4 Tips for Visiting the Beautiful Calton Hill
- 6 Interesting Things To Do If You Only Have 24 Hours in Edinburgh
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