The Cuillin Hills are wonderful Rocky Mountains located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The spectacular Cuillin Hills are a national scenic area of Scotland and is also a Scottish Natural Heritage. Cuillin Ridge is the main attraction which is also called as Black Cuillin. There is also a Red Cuillin which is located towards the east of Glen Sligachan. The peaks of Cuillin ridge are considered ideal for the mountaineers because they have an excellent grip. The color of the rocks is dark which appears black in shades or evening and becomes brownish in the sunlight. These rocks also tend to get slippery when wet and become more challenging. The ridge has 11 Munros and 16 other summits.
These hills are a perfect spot for hikers and climbers who love adventure and seek thrill. Climbing to the Cuillin (Black) Ridge is not for everyone and you need to be fit and healthy to enjoy it. The ridge is around 14-kilometers long and it has a curve around the lake Coruisk. The beautiful lake “Loch Coruisk” is situated in the heart of these mountains. Sgurr Alasdair is the highest point of the Cuillin Ridge aka Black Cuillin.
On the other hand, the rocks of Red Cuillin are mostly granite and have a lighter color which appears to be red in sunlight. This range has more rounded hills and vegetation around it. Red Cuillin being less rocky is easier to climb but still needs you to be fit and healthy. Glamaig is the highest point of the eastern side of these mountains. In short this is a heaven for mountain lovers who can climb up to see the wonderful views of the beautiful Scotland. The entire area is designated as a Special Protection Area mainly because of the presence of Golden Eagles. These mountains have one of the highest-density population of Golden Eagles in the United Kingdom.
Tips and Safety Precautions
First of all, keep in mind that the weather is very unpredictable here and it can change anytime so always be prepared for extreme weather conditions. Most of the time, weather is windier and wetter and colder than sea level. Black Cuillin needs expert climbers because it has many steep and slippery slopes, sharp-edged ridges and boulder hills. The surface is mostly very rough and needs a climber to be highly fit and fully prepared for the climb. On the other hand, Red Cuillin is a bit less challenging but it also has some rocky terrain and steep slopes.
You should define your route prior to starting the hike and leave a copy of the route map with a reliable and responsible person who can get rescue for you if there is some trouble. The mobiles and GPS signals also do not work properly on the mountains. Sometimes, you will have signals and sometimes you will not have them for a long way. You need a pair or strong and waterproof boots and a full set of waterproof clothing before you set for the mountain. Take a hat and good pair of gloves and an extra layer of warm clothing.
Take proper food, snacks and water with you along with a map and a compass. You should be able to read the map and use the compass. You also need to be fit and healthy to do scrambling on the mountains. As I said before better define your route clearly before you read, because the compass also sometimes gives error because the rocks have high amount of iron. If you are not highly experienced, the best solution is to hire a guide so that you can enjoy the hiking properly.
History of Cuillin Hills
The Black Cuillin was formed after and explosion in a huge volcano which took place around 60,000,000 years ago. Time, weather and glaciers’ activities sculpted the ridge into its current form. The Red Cuillin is also formed by a volcanic explosion but it was more exposed to an acidic environment, wind and water which sculpted them into rounded and smoother rocks. The name of the hills has many meanings and many derivations, but it is not confirmed why they are called Cuillin.
Some prehistoric hut circles were found in the Glenbrittle which indicate the human habitancy of mountains. There is a stone circle identified and many archaeological sites have been found including a fort from Iron Age. There are also remains of settlement from the Bronze Age. The Loch na h-Airde is linked with sea by an artificial canal which is thought to be created in the Early Middle Ages.
10 Routes and Amazing Attractions at Cuillin Hills
Rubh’ an Dunain
This route leads you from Glenbrittle to the headland of a fort where you can observe a history dating back to 8000 years old. You will also see many archaeological sites on the route and will explore Neolithic, Viking and Medieval history. There is also evidence of some hut circles and a passage tomb. The fort is situated towards the south and the artificial lake is located towards east which was created in the Early Middle Ages. Many visitors have witnessed sharks, seals and otters in the Loch Brittle (Lake) and the Sound of Soay. Total round trip which is around 12 kilometers will take 3 to 5 hours depending upon your comfort. The walk is pleasant and easiest. Take precautions because of the remote area.
Coire Lagan at Cuillin Hills
This lovely route will take you from Glenbrittle beach to a beautiful lake in the mountain which is 600 meters above sea level. The amazing loch is surrounded by highest peaks of the island. The distance is around 4 kilometers and will take up to 2 hours for you to reach the lake. The walk is pleasant with a moderate difficulty because you will need to scramble for a short distance.
Loch Coruisk at Cuillin Hills
This is a one of the most beautiful and wildest lakes in Scotland which is located in the Cuillin Hills in a fantastic natural environment. You can take a boat from Elgol and reach here in a short time. This is a wonderful place to spend time or picnic with friends. The wonderful walk around the lake is around 6 kilometers.
Sgurr na Stri at Cuillin Hills
This is a long walk that takes around 24 kilometers for a round trip. This walk will take you through one of the most spectacular glens like Glen Sligachan where you will be mesmerized by the views of Black Cuillin on one side and Red Cuillin on the other. Sgurr na Stri is located at the end of the Glen which is rated as one of the best viewing points in Britain from the height of 1620.73 feet. It takes around 6 to 8 hours to reach to Sgur Stri and will take more if you decide to go further. This is a long walk so you should be well prepared with necessities and accessories before taking this route. Going further up Sgurr na Stri will require scrambling and navigation skills.
The Red Cuillin Horseshoe
This route is a pleasant uphill walk over the mix of rocky and grassy terrain. The highest point of the route is Glamaig which is around 2,398 feet. From the top you will have wonderful views of Applecross, Rona and Raasay. This route and viewing point are less crowdy so you can enjoy a lovely peaceful time. The distance is around 10 kilometers for the round trip and will take you 5 to 7 hours depending on your comfort level. The walk is slippery in the beginning but then becomes a pleasure after some time.
Bruach na Frithe
The Munro Bruach na Frithe is considered as the easiest and most straight forward peak in the Cuillin Ridge which is surely going to mesmerize you. The route will take you through the grassy Fionn Choire towards the Bruach na Frithe which is 3143 feet high. There is a trig point where you can easily recognize the summit. The views are spectacular from the top. The total distance for your round trip will be 14 kilometers and will take 6 to 8 hours. You will need a map and proper route planning to reach to the top and to come back.
Bla Bheinn at Cuillin Hills
This superb route will take you from sea level through the Coire Uaigneich up to the Bla Bheinn which is considered as one of the most magnificent mountains of United Kingdom. The footpath has also been upgraded sometime ago by the John Muir Trust. You will need good route-finding skills to reach to the top through a wonderful path. You will enjoy the fantastic views of Black Cuillin from the top. It will take around 8 kilometers for your round trip which will need a small scrambling and takes around 5 to 7 hours of time.
Sgurr Alasdair at Cuillin Hills
Sgurr Alasdair is the highest peak on the Skye at a height of 3257 feet. The peak is named after Sheriff Alexander Nicolson, who climbed it in 1873 for the first time. The route starts from Loch Corie Lagan and takes good route-finding skills to reach up to the peak. The distance for your round trip is around 6 to 8 kilometers and takes around 6 to 8 hours. The climb is not as easy as the previous routes and it will test your fitness level and climbing skills. This route has a very steep, narrow and rocky scree path which is called Great Stone Shoot and while passing from here you should be wearing a helmet.
Sgurr nan Gillean
This is the most famous peak in the Island of Skye towards the south of Sligachan. This spectacular peak is formed by three sharp ridges. There is a small flat area on the top where you can sit after summit and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surroundings. The distance is around 14 kilometers for your round trip and can take more than 8 hours. The climb is harder than all previous routes and need scrambling and good route-finding skills. The last part of the route is particularly challenging where you will have to walk or crawl along a foot-wide ridge which has steep drops on both sides.
The In Pinn at Cuillin Hills
The name In Pinn is a short version for the Inaccessible Pinnacle. The name was given to the peak because of its frightening appearance. The peak was climbed for the first time by the Pilgrim Pilkington Brothers in the 19th century. This peak is a humungous blade of rock and is located at the steep slop of Sgurr Dearg. This vertical edge of the peak has steep drops on both sides which makes it the hardest climb of all the peaks in Cuillin Hills but that also makes it the most attractive for the adventure seekers. The distance is around 8 kilometers for the round trip and takes more than 6 hours. The route is extremely difficult and if you are not highly experience, it is recommended to take a local guide with you. Not only the climbing up is difficult but coming down is also very difficult.