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Hiking route

Sligachan to Portree

Hiking route · United Kingdom
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  • River of Varraggil leading to the sea and Portree
    / River of Varraggil leading to the sea and Portree
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / The Cuillin Ridge surrounded by clouds
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / The first river crossing
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Monument for the Battle of Braes
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Road ahead
    Photo: Macs Adventure
m 50 -50 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km
Begin your day in Sligachan, and follow the edge of Loch Sligachan to Peinchorran before following sleepy winding lanes across the coast and down to a riverside path that brings you into the harbour town of Portree. 
Distance 19.7 km
6:00 h
253 m
240 m
92 m
-23 m
Start at the iconic Sligachan Hotel, this walk skirts the sea loch Loch Sligachan on a path that disappears and reappears. Keeping the loch to your right-hand side, emerge around the coastline and join a small road that winds back towards Portree, passing the monument for the Battle of Braes. Here you join the river Varagill and a small riverside path that winds its way down to the estuary before arriving in the town of Portree, a bustling harbour town of coloured houses, warm pubs with open fires, shops and restaurants.

Author’s recommendation

Make sure you stop at the monument for the Battle of Braes, it is a central part of Scottish history and it is worth doing some research on the Highland Clearances before the walk.
Highest point
92 m
Lowest point
-23 m
Best time of year

Safety information

Parts of the route follow the cliff tops, particularly the first 5 km -  be very careful of the drop and do not go to close to the edge. If you are on the shoreline, be aware of the tide.

There are some road crossings, always be aware of traffic and be sure to use a pavement/sidewalk where possible, where it isn’t walk on the right-hand side of the road,

Some of the ground can be uneven, with pebbly beaches and muddy or rocky grassland. Ensure you have suitable footwear and be cautious with your footing.

When crossing the streams, be wary of slippery and loose stones, if you feel unsure bring walking poles for support, and you can always find a more suitable crossing a little up or downstream.

Tips and hints


Points of Interest

Braes battle and monument

In 1882 local crofting tenants facing eviction from the land withheld rent and released sheep onto a forbidden area on the shores of Ben Lee. Sent to evict them, the Sheriff Officer from Portree was met by an angry mob, who forced him to burn the eviction notices. Subsequently, 50 Glasgow policemen, sent to quell the rebellion, faced 100 men, women and children, armed with sticks and stones. Small fines were imposed in court, but it was clear that law and order could only be enforced with military assistance. After the Battle of the Braes, the unrest spread to Glendale, Skye. The rebellion led to the Napier Commission and ultimately the Crofters Act of 1886, which brought security of tenure and the right to hand a croft on to their heirs. The Battle of the Braes is celebrated by a monument and a folk song.

Portree Harbour

Marked by its distinctive multi-coloured houses, painted so sailors could identify their home from afar, Portree harbour is incredibly picturesque. Portree harbour has a sheltered deep water anchorage which provides good shelter from all winds, so is a haven in stormy weathers for all those on the water. The harbour is also home to a flourishing fishing fleet and a busy salmon farming industry.

Aros Centre

Aros is a popular visitor attraction and community cultural centre offering exhibition, cinema, live music, comedy, dance, drama, theatre, galleries and workshops. Situated just outside Portree, it also has a family-friendly restaurant, gift shop and children’s play areas.


Food & Drink

There is nowhere along the route to get food and water so make sure you request a packed lunch from your accommodation in Slgachan in advance and take enough water for the walk ahead to Portree.  Once arriving in Portree there are plenty of cafes, shops and restuarants to seek refreshments and a packed lunch for the next day.  Portree can be busy during the summer months so we reccomend booking dinner ahead of time.  


The carpark of the Sliogachan Hotel (15 m)
OS Grid
NG 48549 29863
57.289930, -6.174805
57°17'23.7"N 6°10'29.3"W
29V 670259 6353193


Town centre of Portree

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km - Start with yout back to the main entrance of the hotel, with the small stone bridge to your right, in the car park, TURN LEFT and walk through the car park towards the main road.

0.15 km - When you reach the main road, stick to the left-hand side until you come to the sign for Sligachan Campsite, then TURN RIGHT, being careful when crossing the road.

0.34 km - As the path levels out, continue STRAIGHT ON and take the middle of the 3 turns passing the camp water point on your right.

0.42 km - TURN RIGHT down a gravel path, towards the loch in the distance, crossing z small stream and joining a faint path through the heather.

0.64 km - Continue STRAIGHT ON through a stone wall as the path becomes better defined.

0.81 km - Cross the river using the stepping stones, and join the path on the other side as you continue STRAIGHT ON.

1.10 km - BEAR LEFT, keeping the river to your right as you pass under some electric cables.

1.20 km - Keep the river and the small water pools to your right as you skirt around them and BEAR LEFT heading towards the loch

1.30 km - Continue STRAIGHT ON, the path is very indistinct, keep the water to your right.

1.40 km - BEAR LEFT, joining a faint footpath in the heather.

1.50 km - Cross the stream and continue STRAIGHT ON using the same path.

1.80 km - Cross the large stream and 10 metres on BEAR LEFT, ascending up the side of the valley.

2.10 km - Once you have ascended above the rocky outcrop with small trees below it, begin to BEAR RIGHT slightly as you descend back to the base of the valley towards the loch.

2.60 km - As you rejoin the base of the valley, a clear rocky path should be visible that runs around the edge of the loch, join this and BEAR LEFT so you are once more skirting the loch with the loch to your right.

3.90 km - At the rocky outcrop with a waterfall, keep the waterfall to your left, staying close to the loch, 10 metres further on BEAR LEFT and join the larger stone and grass path as you continue to skirt the loch.

4.70 km - As the path turns to grass, ignore the two left hand turns and continue STRAIGHT ON over the stream, staying close to the shore

4.90 km - As the path begins to ascend, head STRAIGHT ON through the metal gate.

5.50 km - As the path turns to grass, you ascend over the ridge and continue STRAIGHT ON.

5.70 km - As the main path begins to descend and arc to the left, TURN RIGHT down a fainter path that leads to the small car park 100 metres down hill.

5.80 km - When you reach the car park, TURN LEFT, following the road over a small bridge.

8.30 km - Ignore the right turn and continue STRAIGHT ON.

16.10 km - After descending a hill you cross a bridge over the river Varagill (signposted), immediately after the bridge TURN RIGHT down the grass track and through a metal gate, the track almost immediately turns to a small path.

16.30 km - Keep the river to your right, as the path approaches a fork, BEAR LEFT and take the left hand fork.

16.80 km - Head STRAIGHT ON as the river opens up on to the estuary, keep the water to your right. The path can be hard to see in parts, but keep close to the water and it will reappear.

17.70 km - When the path forks BEAR LEFT, ascending up to the main road, at the main road TURN RIGHT joining the pavement opposite the Aros Cultural Centre.

19.20 km - BEAR RIGHT following signs for Portree Town Centre.

19.50 km - TURN LEFT at Portree Independent Hostel and you will arrive in Portree Town Centre. Your day of walking is complete.


all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NG 48549 29863
57.289930, -6.174805
57°17'23.7"N 6°10'29.3"W
29V 670259 6353193
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


The ground can be uneven, be sure to wear sturdy shoes with good ankle support and waterproofing.  As ever make sure you are prepared for all weather carrying warm, and waterproof clothing along with layers.

There are a number of stream crossings, walking poles can make these crossing easier and safer. They also come in handy when crossing uneven ground or making steep descents.


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19.7 km
6:00 h
253 m
240 m
Highest point
92 m


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