The otherworldly landscapes and jaw-dropping scenery of the Quiraing is a highlight of any visit to the Isle of Skye. See the best of it the easy-to-follow Quiraing walk, which has amazing photographic opportunities and geological panoramas.

The Quiraing is a land of strange rocky shapes and grassy slopes that has literally slipped off the side of a mountain. An other-worldly scene of pinnacles and ridges; cliffs and lakes, it’s one of the best things to do on the Isle of Skye.  

The best way to experience this natural spectacle is on the Quiraing Walk. This moderate hike is 4.2 miles long and takes 2 to 3 hours with breathtaking views the whole way.

The trail passes all three of the Quiraing’s iconic rocky shapes and it has some of the best views over Skye with waves of mountains marching towards the sea.

Even without completing the entire Quiraing hike, there is a great lookout and an easy trail of a few hundred metres which leads to many of the best views.

Our guide to the Quiraing hike includes a detailed map, hiking instructions, information on how to get there plus a few interesting detours off the main trail.

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Our guide to the Quiraing hike includes a detailed map, hiking instructions, information on how to get there

WHAT IS THE QUIRAING?

The entire Trotternish Peninsula escarpment on the Isle of Skye was formed by giant landslips. But only one part is still moving today – the Quiraing.

Located on the eastern flanks of the mountain Meall na Suiramach, the gradual slipping of earth has created weird rocky shapes amongst the dramatic mountain scenery. A number of these shapes have been given names.

  • The Needle is a 120 ft high pinnacle which rises to a spiky point above a sea of scree.
  • The Prison is a pyramid-shaped rocky peak which looks like a medieval keep.
  • The Table is a flat grassy area that has slipped away from the summit.

The word Quiraing comes from the Old Norse word Kví Rand meaning ‘Round Fold.’ It is believed locals concealed cattle from Viking raiders on top of the flat grassy summit of the Table.

HOW TO GET TO THE QUIRAING?

The Quiraing is near the northern end of the Trotternish Peninsula on the Isle of Skye. The Quiraing Car Park (Post Code – IV51 9LB) is a 40-minute drive from the town of Portree, either using the western route (A87) via Uig, or the eastern route (A855) via Lealt. We have marked the location on the map below.

Whether you intend to just visit the Quiraing Lookout or complete the Quiraing walk, we highly recommend that you drive the complete Trotternish Peninsula loop from Portree via the A87 and A855 as some of the best things to do in Skye lie along it.

QUIRAING HIKE PARKING

The Quiraing car park is large, but it can get busy on summer weekends and holidays. If it’s full head east towards Staffin, where there are some smaller car parks and laybys.

The car park is £3 for up to 3 hours or £5 for up to 6 hours. Tickets can be purchased on the RingGo App – RingGo Parking Locator 23484

The Quiraing car park is large, but it can get busy on summer weekends and holidays.

QUIRAING LOOKOUT

The Quiraing Lookout is right next to the main car park and provides magnificent views over the escarpment.

Great waves of rock that have fallen from the mountain edge seem to surge towards the sea. Knobbly peaks sit above pretty lakes and under the sheer-sided cliff face. It’s one of the best places to visit in the UK.

It’s well worth coming to the lookout even if you don’t intend to do the hike, as it has some of the best views on Skye. However, Quiraing’s star features, the Needle, the Prison and the Table are much more distinct from the walk.

QUIRAING WALK OVERVIEW

The hike around the Quiraing is a great exploration of the weird and wonderful landscapes of this part of the world. The entire Quiraing walk is 4.2 miles (6.75 kilometres), involves about 375 metres of ascent and descent, and takes about 2-3 hours.

Even if you don’t want to walk the entire trail, it’s well worth doing the first few hundred metres from the car park as the views open up quickly.

For the best views and photos, we suggest you get to at least marker 1 on the map below.

QUIRAING WALK DETAILS

PART 1 – LOOKOUT TO THE NEEDLE

The trailhead is at the Quiraing Car Park (don’t forget to pay and display). Make your way to the lookout and then follow the path that runs northeast below the steep cliff face of the escarpment.

The path is very clear and often busy – but rightly so as the views start getting amazing quickly.

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Shortly after the beginning, there is a lone Rowan tree – with a little track leading down to it. It’s perfectly set up as a single foreground object with the mountains in the backdrop.

The path is easy and flat except for an awkward rocky step over a little stream.

After about 20 to 30 minutes, it reaches a rocky slope (marker 1 on the map below). This is a great place to stop if you don’t want to complete the whole hike. The Needle and main cliffs of the Quiraing are to your left, the Prison is right in front of you, and the escarpment and waves of rock marching out to sea are on your right.

PART 2 – NEEDLE TO THE RIDGELINE

From here the crowds begin to disappear. Follow the trail, staying to the left of the Prison. It rises more steeply for a short section, bends left, heads over a stile and passes under an overhang.

Once around the corner, the trail sticks close to the escarpment wall and views of more rocky pinnacles appear in the distance. Ignoring the paths that head off to your right, keep close to the cliff wall as it climbs steeply up the ridge on your left.

Pass through a dry-stone wall on the deteriorating path to reach the ridgeline (marker 2 on the map).

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PART 3 – RIDGELINE TO CAR PARK

Cross a stile and turn left making your way back along the top of the escarpment which is now on your left.

It’s a bit of a slog, but views over the Table soon appear. The higher you get, the better the views over the Isle of Skye become. In the distance, the mighty Torridon Mountains rise above the sea as the landslip of the Quiraing increasingly reveals itself.

Continue along the cliff edge not getting too close as the land is still moving. The trail now descends gradually until you reach marker 3 on the map. Here, turn left and descend back to the Quiraing lookout and car park.

This last section can be quite muddy and a bit unclear so take your time and be careful.

QUIRAING WALK MAP

The walk described in this article is the main Quiraing hike, however, there are some detours off the main trail which are included on the map below.

  • The red route is the main Quiraing path, starting and ending in the Quiraing Car Park. (The walk described above).
  • The brown route is a short detour around The Prison.
  • The purple route is a short but difficult scramble up a scree-strewn slope to views of The Needle.
  • The grey route is the rough location of the challenging path that heads to the summit of the Table
  • The orange route is a trail leading past a couple of lovely lakes to a parking lot on the A855.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


DETOURS FROM THE QUIRAING WALK

There are several detours off the main Quiraing trail that are worth exploring if you have the time.  

THE PRISON DETOUR

If you just intend to walk to marker 1, you could add a little more by completing the loop around The Prison. Follow the brown path on the map above. This will add about 20 minutes.

THE NEEDLE DETOUR

To get views of Needle from above, it takes quite a bit of effort. Head up the very steep scree slope that leaves the main path just opposite the Prison, staying to the right of the Needle. It’s a very steep and very indistinct trail, but it’s not that far.

After about 10 minutes you’ll arrive at the base of the Needle. There are good photo opportunities a little bit further up (past the base of the Needle) looking back down the way you came up.

Be aware – the loose rock makes it very difficult coming down, so take your time. Add 30 minutes.

THE TABLE DETOUR

The Table is best seen from the path coming back over the top of the escarpment on the main Quiraing walk, but the massive crack in the land puts it frustratingly out of reach. To ascend the Table, you must approach from below.

From opposite the main path by the Prison, ascend a steep scree slope, this time staying to the left of the Needle. It enters a steep gully before passing a large rock on your right and then flattening out.

The trail now makes an anti-clockwise loop to reach the western side of the Table. Head along the western edge to find a trail that ascends the Table from the back. The scree slope here is also tough and it is a challenging addition to the main Quiraing hike. An indicative path is shown in grey on the map above.

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THE HASCO LAKE DETOUR

If you want to lengthen the Quiraing walk – and not pay for parking – you can begin at the lay-by on the A855. The path (marked orange on the map above) covers 1.5 miles taking 40 minutes to join the main hike. There are two lovely lakes on the way. The one closer to the parking lot is a great location for a sheltered picnic.

QUIRAING HIKE FAQs


HOW LONG IS THE QUIRAING WALK?

The Quiraing Walk is 4.2 miles (6.75km) long, involves about 375 metres of ascent and descent, and takes about 2-3 hours.

WHERE DO YOU PARK FOR THE QUIRAING WALK?

The trailhead for the Quiraing hike begins at the Quiraing Car Park on the Trotternish Peninsula on the Isle of Skye. The postcode is IV51 9LB and the RingGo Parking Locator is 23484

HOW BEST TO SEE THE QUIRAING?

The easiest way to see the Quiraing is from the lookout next to the Quiraing Car Park (Post code – IV51 9LB). For even better views follow the trail that heads northeast under the escarpment cliffs for a few hundred metres.

IS THE QUIRAING A MUNRO?

No, the Quiraing is not a Munro. It’s an old landslip with the highest point at 1,781 feet. A Munro is a mountain that is over 3,000 feet. Most Munros in Scotland are in the Scottish Highlands.

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WHERE NEXT?

As London-based travel bloggers, we’re often exploring exotic destinations far from home, but there’s a wealth of great experiences to be had within the UK. Here are some of our favourite guides to our home country.