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Behind The Lens: A Hidden Gem On The Isle of Skye

Time and time again, we hear people saying that the Isle of Skye is too busy around the holiday season, with all the hotspots losing some of their charm due to overcrowding.


So, we wanted to share a hidden gem on the Isle of Skye that's less well-known but worth your time! It involves a fairly easy 4km hike and offers incredible views of the Cuillins. It's Camasunary Bay!


Jack visited this spot in early 2023 with Toivo the dog and had quite the experience there. This is a throwback to that trip, with Jack telling the story in his own words. Hopefully, it gives you inspiration for a future trip.


A Hidden Gem On The Isle of Skye: Camasunary Bay


Leaving Applecross and driving over to Skye, I turned off the main road at Broadford and headed down the winding single-track route towards Elgol, past Torrin and Loch Slapin, admiring the amazing views of Blà Bheinn (pronounced Blah-Ven) offered on the way. Instead of going all the way to the end of the road I parked up at the small township of Kilmarie and began the hike along the well-made track west.


A map to show walks on the Isle of Skye
The sign at the start of the walk

As mentioned before, this walk might not be as popular as the well-known hikes you'll find on Google or Trip Advisor, but it has just as much to offer, with terrific panoramic views, fresh Skye air, and unlike some of the top results, plenty of peace and quiet. Admittedly it was January, but I only saw one other person the entire time. If you're also like a couple of members of our gallery team, you'll love the opportunity it provides for a wild swim when you get to the other end too.


A labrador on a walk on the Isle of Skye
Toivo posing at the top of the bay

After about two miles of steady uphill hiking, you'll reach the best viewpoint overlooking the bay with Sgurng sharply on the other side and hints of the impressive Black Cuillin ridge behind Sgurr na Stri.


My original idea with this trip was to get a picture similar to the February 2023 image in my calendar, from Sgurr na Stri, hoping for a clear sunrise to display the knife edge of the Black Cuillin Ridge beyond.


This extended hike would involve a river crossing on the far side of Camusunary Bay, which is usually doable, but with the amount of rain we’d been subjected to over the last few weeks, I was worried about how high the river would be. This was also Toivo’s first winter camp, and I wanted to make sure we stayed safe and didn’t tackle anything too challenging.


With that in mind, I decided to stay at the bothy, but I’m hopeful that this camp will be completed in the future when the weather is a little less wet.


If you don’t know, bothies are buildings you can find across the UK, maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association. They offer simple shelters in remote locations for the benefit of anyone wanting to sleep in the wilderness. Bothies are free to use, and you take all your own equipment with you for your stay but are safe knowing you’ll have a decent roof over your head for the night.


A labrador looking out of a bothy window
An example of what you might find entering a bothy - random socks! Toivo enjoyed looking out the window

Arriving At Camasunary Bay


We arrived at the bay around sunset to overcast conditions, hopeful of a sunrise in the morning. With it being January, it got dark early and I wasn’t feeling too hungry after eating a ‘bothy beast sandwich’ from the Coffee Bothy at Broadford, so I decided to head to bed early. With it being so early, I couldn’t sleep, and at around 11pm, I decided to get up again and head out to fill up my water bottle and make something to eat.


A Light Night Aurora On The Isle of Skye


I went outside to see that the night was clear, and with no light pollution, the stars were brilliant. I looked on my left up toward the north and was greeted with the bright green sky of an aurora.


Green northern lights outside of a bothy
Stunning aurora display outside of the bothy around 11pm

Dinner had to wait a while as I ran to get my camera. As mentioned in a previous blog (which you can read here for more tips on aurora photography), you can have just a short window of time to photograph an aurora, but this one decided to stick around long enough that I got some amazing footage. As I headed back to bed, I knew this had become a bothy trip that I’d remember for a long time.


The Next Morning


Waking up to my alarm I hoped to be greeted with a clear morning sky. Instead, I could see a mixture of clouds and clear sky passing through, and as I properly looked out of the window I saw that everything was covered in a beautiful blanket of snow, right down to the edge of the beach.


Looking out of a window onto a snow-covered bay and mountains beyond
The next morning

A labrador standing in a snowy field
A happy Toivo in the snow

Toivo went out first and had a wonderful time bounding around and playing in the snow, and I followed on with my camera. As the sun rose, the clouds were thin enough to diffuse the light coming through, changing the colours surrounding me from cold blues and greys to vivid pinks and purples, lighting everything up like a neon sign. The panorama just below really showcases those colours. I love the way that you start with the freezing snow clouds and cool blues on the left and experience a gradient over to the warmer sunrise colours on the right.


Camasunary bay winter's sunrise
A winter's sunrise at Camasunary Bay

Before I headed back to Applecross I decided to go and enjoy another bothy beast sandwich in front of the welcome warmth of the fire at the Coffee Bothy. This cafe is owned by Andrew and Rich, alongside Jynx the dog! They always provide a friendly welcome and good conversation. If you’re headed to Skye, make sure you go to try a bothy beast yourself, or just enjoy some wonderful coffee and cake!


A couple and their dog who run a cafe
Andrew, Rich, and Jynx at the Coffee Bothy in Broadford

It continued to snow heavily, and I drove back to Applecross surrounded by picturesque scenes. Applecross itself had been missed by a lot of the snow, meaning that the Bealach was passible in my Land Rover (Never seen the Bealach in the snow? Check out this image).


As ever, please send over any questions you have from this post! Would you be keen to know about more hidden Highland gems that I've discovered over the years?

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