Boreraig and Suisnish

MAP OS OUTDOOR LEISURE The Cullin & Torridon Hills

DISTANCE: 10 miles

TERRAIN: Paths, tracks, and road

GEAR: Full hill walking kit

LIKE the rest of the Highlands and Islands, Skye suffered during the mid-19th century from the Clearances, when unscrupulous lairds forced crofters out of their homes and off the land to make way for sheep. Some people settled elsewhere in Scotland but many emigrated abroad where their descendants are now well established.

The remote hamlets of Boreraig and Suisnish on the coast of Skye, south-west of Broadford, are testimony to that infamous period in Scottish history. If your imagination is strong enough, you can feel the presence of the former inhabitants among the ruins and perhaps try to imagine how much they must have suffered.

There were rebellions of course, and further north from here, opposite the southern tip of Raasay, is the The Braes, where a famous confrontation over grazing rights occurred in 1882. It became known as the Battle of the Braes and gave rise to important legislation protecting crofters’ rights.

The stand-off came about when the laird, the sixth Lord MacDonald of Sleat, tried to evict tenants, who responded by burning the eviction notices. The sheriff, William Ivory, arrived to arrest the ringleaders with, among others, 50 policemen from Glasgow.

The crofters were armed only with sticks and stones and the police arrested five men and injured women during a charge. The men were taken to Inverness and held without trial, but Highlanders from all over Scotland rallied to their cause, standing bail for them and eventually paying their fines. The incident, and other skirmishes, led to the Crofters’ Holding Act of 1886, giving people security of tenure.

Take the A881 south-west from Broadford and drive for about two miles to the ruined church on the right at Cill Chriosd, by the loch of the same name. Walk back along the road and locate a path on the right. Follow this to reach the course of a former narrow gauge railway and turn right.

Continue on the track, passing the remains of a marble quarry and cross open moorland to where the track rises to its highest point west of Loch Lonachan, on your left. Carry on, with the Allt na Pairte burn on your left and descend to Boreraig, on the shore of Loch Eishort. Our route bears right, following the coastline, past ruined cottages and disused enclosures.

Continue along the shore, under the cliffs of Creag an Daraich. Rounding Carn Dearg the path climbs to the cluster of abandoned buildings at Suisnish, at the entrance to Loch Slapin. A path leads right back across the moor, but ignore this and instead turn left to pick up a track that heads north, above the shoreline of Loch Slapin. There are grand views across the loch to Bla Bheinn and the Black Cuillin.

Continue around the bay at Camus Malag to veer inland again and reach the road. Turn right and walk for a couple of miles back to the start.