A treasure of a beach located in a slightly unsuspecting location, the Claigan coral beach is a must visit for anyone spending a few days on the Isle of Skye.
With nothing more than a few vague location notes scribbled down on a crumpled sheet of paper my friends and I set out from our beautiful cottage one morning, in search of the coral beach. We knew that from our base of Ullinish, we needed to head north west for roughly 20 minutes, towards Dunvegan castle. We duly found the castle with little trouble, but knew that the next stage of the drive was the trickier part.
Breaking from the main road we made our way slowly down a one lane side track, pulling in on the odd occasion to let other cars pass. We drove as far as we could along that stretch until we hit a small car park. Seemingly this was as far as we could go on four wheels, from here on in our journey would have to be completed by foot.
As we exited the car park and onto a small walking trail we spotted this sign. We were heading in the right direction it would appear. So far so good.
The sign stated that the coral beach was around 1 miles walk, not too bad we thought, maybe a 15-20 walk. We weren’t a million miles away in our estimations, but what we hadn’t reckoned on was the track disappearing and having to take to the slippery, cattle field route. Things had just got that bit tougher. We were being made to work for this beach.
Navigating the treacherous path, it wasn’t long until the blindly obvious happened, one of us slipped and fell, sustaining a nasty twisted ankle. A slight setback. With said twisted ankle we then had to hop/climb/clamber and fall through a gap in a large and very long stone wall, dodge a few more cattle and navigate the uneven and slippery surface before us for the rest of the journey. In the end it took a little longer than the anticipated 20 minutes, but what is adventure without a little drama thrown in? But as you’ve probably already guessed, the journey was all totally worth it in the end though … I probably wouldn’t have written this post otherwise ;- )
Check out the Claigan Coral Beach in all it’s glory
After walking up a small incline and reaching its peak we we saw, off in the distance, a beach worthy of the Mediterranean … well almost. From our vantage point the sand looked pristine white, and although the tide was out, there were still tinges of a majestic blue colour in the water.
Setting foot on the stretch of beach it quickly became apparent that what looked like sand from a distance was not, and that the name Claigan Coral Beach is not entirely accurate either. Fossilised and sun-bleached algae, also known as maerl, was what lay beneath our feet. It was crisp underfoot and really quite sharp to touch. We decided against rolling out the beach towels and slapping on the sun cream, it wasn’t really the right weather anyway.
Whilst it was an interesting discovery, it was not one that in any way ruined our beach experience. We spent the next couple of hours wandering the area and taking in our beautiful surroundings. We found no end of creepy looking sea worms scattered along the water line, and just south of the beach were some interesting looking rock formations … I think human hands might have played a small role in their formation however. Either way, they added to the incredible feel of the expansive and yet deserted Scottish coastline that surrounded us. It was pretty blissful.
As the tide was out we decided we would try to walk along a small spit from Claigan Coral Beach to the tiny island of Lampay. Exploration to Lampay did not go as planned though and we soon started sinking into the sea bed. Mission aborted.
Back on slightly dryer (and firmer) land we turned our attentions to a flat topped hill directly behind the beach. Since returned from Scotland I have found that this hill is known as ‘Cnoc Mor a Ghrobain’. It’s called a hill, but it felt like climbing a mountain. We climbed as far as our pumping quads would carry us before settling on a spot which gave us a great few of the beach and then unpacking for lunch. Sandwiches munched it was time for one last photo before heading back towards the car and onwards to another one of Skye’s gems … and then my camera battery died. Blast!
In truth the photos I did manage to take do not really do the Claigan Coral Beach justice, the weather too perhaps not helping. The beach really was and is beautiful, and totally worth visiting. It costs nothing to park up and explore, so all you need to pay for is your petrol. I personally am tempted to head back to Skye in the summer months of 2014 and take a presumably refreshing dip at the Claigan Coral Beach. Anyone care to join?