The western fringe of Scotland is a place completely set apart from the rest of Britain by its remarkable mixture of big, rocky mountains, beautiful lush green valleys and seductive sandy shorelines. Nowhere else soothes the troubled urban soul quite like this northern paradise.
Well, that’s the western fringe of Scotland for you, summed up in a sentence or two, but not the Isle of Skye. For this remarkable island is as different from the west of Scotland as the north-western fringe is from the south-east of England. Skye doesn’t do soothing, or soft, and Skye certainly doesn’t do a lot of green. Skye is elemental, savage, bare, boggy and can be a hard mistress. But like all forms of basic beauty, Skye is completely addictive and once seen (in the right light) eats into your soul and never loses its grip. You spend your southern days waiting for the next trip north, and right in the middle of all this fanciful soul-searching savagery sits Sligachan campsite – a victim and a victory all in one place.
Dealing with sensible, practical matters first, the site’s ablutional facilities are acceptable and more than adequate, if not plush. But the squat stone building containing them reflects the harshness of the world outside, and this has somehow crept inside too. If bad weather persists it also seems to seep inside the mind, but thankfully the weather around here can best be described as ‘fast’ for no sooner have curtains of mist been drawn across the Cuillins than they’re thrust open again by a furious wind bowling in from the bay. But such ‘fast’ weather is good because it helps hinder the seeming whole world’s supply of midges from leaping out of the boggy wastes surrounding the site and brandishing their teeth.
There are good grounds for suggesting that Britain should set up its Olympic Training Village at Sligachan, as several world records are broken on any given evening when the midges are around. It’s about 400 metres from the centre of the site to the pub door, and from tent to bar, wearing big boots and anorak, it takes the average camper 19.8 seconds to cover the distance with a million midges in hot pursuit. Astounding.
If you’re getting the impression that we’re attempting to put you off a visit to Sligachan then there may be some truth in that assumption, but we do believe in painting a true picture of things. It is, of course, almost incidental that we might want the place to ourselves, for when things turn out right here, when the sun shines (and those pesky midge adversaries can’t stand the heat, muwahahaha!), then we who have been victims want to enjoy the spoils exclusively. And when things are right, some of the roughest, rockiest, most savage scenes on the island sit directly behind the hotel and campsite, daring you to dip even a toe into their territory. And dip it you must as the walking around here offers abundant visual rewards, especially from the Cuillins.
Even getting to Sligachan from the Skye Bridge is an experience always remembered, as the road winds through the big hills of the Red Cuillins into the very centre of the island, where the campsite and the fearful-looking Black Cuillins await your flimsy nylon. But the most outrageous thing about Skye is that the most outrageous scenes of all, up on the Trotternish Peninsula and all around the pinnacled northern coast, haven’t even been glimpsed as yet.
No, Skye isn’t comfortable, but it’s a place worth persevering the pain to discover, and Sligachan is the place to gainfully employ yourselves in that process.
FacilitiesA bit rough and ready for some, but the site is reasonably equipped with showers, toilets, washbasins, electric hook-ups, washing machine and tumble-dryer.
Food & DrinkOne of the great pubs of the world, the Sligachan Hotel (01478 650204), with its quiet and cosy MacKenzies Bar inside or livelier Seumas Bar adjacent, is directly across the road. They serve enormous meals, a baffling variety of ales (mostly brewed onsite at the hotel’s own micro-brewery) and 400 varieties of malt whisky! (No wonder it was Whisky pub of the year 2013.)
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