Alice’s Challenge

My Bothy Challenge!                                                                  4th – 6th June, 2017

On Sunday 4th June I and two friends Lesley and Lindsey with Cuillin, Lindsey’s border terrier began an adventure and my sponsored ‘Challenge’.  This involved walking from Elgol carrying a pack each to the bothy at Camasunary, staying two nights at the bothy, attempting to walk to Loch Coruisk  via the ‘bad step’, then walking back from Camusunary to Sligachan each carrying our packs. Each pack contained sleeping bag, mat, food etc!


Day 1 starting walk from Elgol to Camasunary – me, backpack & Cuillin who is having a little sit down!

Day 1) The walk from Elgol to Camasunary was only 3 ½ miles, but felt a much greater distance – it took us 3 hours!  Not a walk for the faint hearted.  The coastal path, is a little narrow in places and runs quite close to the cliff edge at points, and with some ups and downs!  However,  there were places of respite and some spectacular views, one of which was the view of bothy in the bay with the Cuillin behind.


Path runs a little close to the edge…in places


welcome respite in a meadow!

photo 4 towards camasunary

Camasunary bay with the Cuillin hills behind & bothy in foreground.

On arrival at the bothy we were met by Angus & Margaret who gave us a welcome barbecue of haggis with salad from their garden, a nice glass of wine followed by baked bananas! After Angus and Margaret left we settled down for the night, rather early but we were tired!  Other walkers / outward bounders were with us in the bothy which added to the experience.

photo 5

Angus, Margaret & me.


Day 2  To Loch Coruisk:  The weather was fair, no rain or low cloud.  Lesley & I agreed we were game for attempting the walk to Loch Coruisk via the ‘bad step’. Lesley is a very experienced walker – I felt safe going with her – we both agreed if the weather changed or we got to the bad step and we didn’t want to do it we would come back.   Lindsey decided not to join us because her back was sore; she stayed at the bothy with Cuillin enjoying the peace and surrounding views.  Lesley & I set off with map, refreshments, water and all the right gear!

The walk: first challenge was fording the river via stepping stones.  Having achieved this, we awarded ourselves with a ‘water & apple stop’ then headed on our way walking round and over Rhuba Ban.

photo 6

Looking back along our path from the bothy (to the far right of the photo) and Camansunary

photo 7 bad step

The bad step


On our way we met a group of Dutch men coming towards us.  They had camped at Loch Coruisk and were heading to Elgol via Camansunary.  They had negotiated the ‘bad step’  and suggested it was quite a challenge’!  I was not sure whether they were joking, had found it a real challenge or were encouraging ‘these two older women not to attempt it’…..they of course had approached it from the opposite direction.  We wished each other good walking and carried on.  Whilst walking we saw a group of canoeists who had camped near the bothy the night before; earlier we had said ‘hello’ to them as we started our walk – seeing them now it looked as though they were canoeing to Loch Coruisk.   We said to each other, ‘well they can rescue us if we fall into the sea whilst negotiating ‘the bad step….’.   About 1 hour later we reached ‘the bad step’ – picture below. Suffice to say we negotiated it – don’t know how, but we did it with some silent & spoken out words & prayer!

photo 8 after bad step

The other side of the step looking towards the bay with Loch Coruisk behind the bay.

After this ‘little challenge’ we said simultaneously ‘we are not going back that way’!  We got to the Loch, sat down, had lunch & looked that the map!  I have to say the Loch was special and it had a certain quality to it.  I can see why many people want to get to it and it on so many Skye postcards.

photo 9 Loch Coruisk

Loch Coruisk on the level

There was a clear path from Loch Coruisk climbing slowly, going along the edge of Strath na Creitheach river;  we took this path then reading the terrain went off ‘piste’ climbing up to a ridge with Sgurr na Stri on our right. Angus had told me how we could do this in reverse to get to Loch Coruisk if we wanted to avoid the ‘bad step’.  There were amazing views either way from the ridge.

photo 10 Loch Coruisk from ridge

Loch Coruisk from the ridge.

Then we slowly, slowly negotiated our way down to Camansunary, finally fording the river again!  After crossing the river we were met & greeted by Cuillin and Lindsey!  This was 8 hours after we had left in the morning! We are not sure of the mileage walked but I would like to suggest it was 8 miles….not too long in mileage but felt much longer!   Lindsey cooked us a meal;  thankfully she had some whiskey which Lesley & I were very grateful for! We slept well that night sharing the bothy again with other walkers & sharing stories!

photo 11 Lesley and me embibing much needed refreshment
Lesley and I taking much appreciated refreshment!

Day 3 Walking to Sligachan – back to the campsite.   This was an 8.3 mile walk through the Cuillin and then along the Glen of Sligachan.  Once again carrying our packs! This should have been a walk with lovely views but sadly right from the start there was a cold north easterly wind blowing down the glen –  we were going up the glen! The clouds were low when we started, then the rain came and kept on for nearly 2 ½ hours – sadly looking at the views was not our priority!   

photo 12 Cuillin checking on us

Cuillin the dog keeping a check on each of us!

photo 13 lunch stop - says it all

Our lunch stop! Says it all?


photo 14 welcome view

After walking close to 6 hours & 8 miles this was a welcome view – we were nearly home!

These walks were memorable and I am so glad to have done them and to have done them in support of Neil’s trust fund.  Walking to Loch Coruisk may appear foolhardy but believe me we would not have done it in bad weather nor if we had  felt unsure once we got to the bad step; we both checked that out with each other before we embarked on it.

Alice  Mackenzie

June, 2017