Coral beach, Isle of Skye...
I know what your thinking, John’s finally lost the plot or has been spending too much time at the Talisker Whisky Distillery in Skye! Thankfully that’s not the case – although spending time in Talisker wouldn't be a chore! – it’s just that one of the hidden gems in Skye is the 'Coral' Beach at Claigan near Dunvegan.
While the Isle of Skye is blessed with some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, it is lacking in beautiful beaches - especially when compared to the glorious beaches on the Atlantic coastline of the Isle of Lewis and Harris. However, it does a great job at having a different type of beach – in this case a stunning 'coral' beach.
The beach itself is about a 2.5 mile round trip hike from the car park and while it is not a difficult hike, it is over rather muddy and uneven ground so footwear that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty is recommended. (There can be some rather mean looking cattle on the route as well – as I found out the other day – which require a wide berth!) However, the sight that greets you from the top of a small hill looking across to the white sandy beach in the distance should make it all worthwhile.
The beautiful view from here suggests that it looks like a great white sandy beach set against the backdrop of Loch Dunvegan and looking out across the Minch to the Western Isles. However, when we get down to the beach itself, closer inspection reveals that the white sands are actually made of dried, calcified sea weed known as maerl. Although not really coral, the name 'Coral Beach' has stuck to the area and while it is not the only maerl beach in Scotland it is certainly one of the most impressive.
Directly behind the beach is a little flat-topped hill known as 'Cnoc Mor a Ghrobain' which is well worth a walk up. From the top you get a great view of the surrounding area and on a good day it looks down not only onto the beach but the amazing clear blue waters. To get to the beach is not really feasible in a one day tour from Inverness due to the travelling distances involved and the time needed to walk to the beach however, for those on a multi-day tour travelling around the area then it is well worth a visit.
For movie fans, it was a widely used location in the Outlaw King movie where it takes the role of the home village of Angus Òg Macdonald of Islay with a number of scenes from the movie taking place around the Coral Beach and Loch Dunvegan.
For a private tour from Inverness to the Coral Beach - 3 Day Isle of Skye Tour