In the 1950’s psychologist Ernest Dichter, working for General Mills, found that the emotional satisfaction of baking from instant cake mix was far greater when housewives were called on to add their own fresh egg as opposed to ‘just adding water’, an insight that boosted flailing cake mix sales across America.
Chalking up yet another win for Fastpacking, with the weather forecast set for rain and strong winds a day on either side, we set out on a beautiful Saturday morning to take on two stages of the Skye Trail. An ambitious task covering 10 peaks, 2260m of ascent and an expected walking duration of over 15 hours. We certainly wouldn’t have attempted this if we weren’t going fast and light! In fact it was a culmination of a few factors: light packs that allow us to run, great weather and 18 hours of northern hemisphere sunlight hours at our discretion.
As an unsignposted route, the Skye Trail requires hikers to navigate themselves, though with the assistance of a guide book, it is near impossible to get lost. Armed with a map and detecting a few vague lines left by previous walkers, we were picking our own path. The experience was richer, more rewarding and incredibly fun. Rosie and I were the housewives, having to guide ourselves along the ridge was adding the egg and the Skye Trail was Betty Crocker.
We hopped over bogs, chose our own zig zags uphill and for a fleeting moment, we were adventurers. Of course, no path means that everyone has an opinion… but I’m sure Shackleton or Ranulph Fiennes occasionally argued and bickered about how to navigate metre wide wet patches just like Gordon Ramsay would discuss at length the best surface to crack an egg on.
I stood on countless clifftop craggs, each time letting out one of those satisfied exhaling sighs as I stared out over the island, the bright blue sea and out towards the highlands on Scottish mainland. A brutal and beautiful day.
The Skye Trail stages 1-3
A much less popular route than the West Highland Way. Skye itself is very popular with many day walkers, drive-by tourists and climbers, but the trail is certainly not overpopulated. The route starts at the northern most point at Rubha Hunish, traverses the Trotternish ridge and runs through the famous Cuillin Hills before ending at Broadford.
The Rubha Hunish stage is quite short , but has great views out to sea and is a good introduction to self-directed Skye style.
The best bit about the second stage in Trotternish was that it felt like we owned the place! Apart from a short 20 min intersection at the ever-popular Old Man of Storr, we saw only one other hiker. We traversed the entire 29km Trotternish Ridge section as if we were the only ones on the island. There is no accommodation at the Storr so a bus or taxi needs to be arranged…. unless you back it up with the third stage into Portree.
The third stage is only 14km long but is a demanding hill top coastal route ending with a nice sea level route into town where you may find a shit load of old retirees pottering around.
Distance: 11.5km, 28.9km and 14km
Difficulty: In the right conditions, stage 2 and 3 together are exhausting but incredibly rewarding. An unenviable suicide slog in the wrong conditions – break them up.