5 - Coral Beach
A great family walk down to the Coral Beach in Claigan, just north of Dunvegan.
The beach is made from crushed white coral like seaweed that makes the water look tropical blue when the sun comes out. A truly magical place, perfect for a family picnic and maybe a swim.
Claigan is a 10 minute drive from Dunvegan Castle, combining the walk to Coral Beach and a visit to the castle could make a great day out.
The walk down to the beach is easy going along a farm track and takes about 25 mins to get to the beach. The return is that same route back to the carpark giving a walk total of 3.6km and 45 minutes (with no stops).
We have classed this walk as ‘Short’ in length and ‘Easy’ for difficulty, check the rating guide for details.
Coral Beach is situated in the north of Skye by the small crofting community of Claigan, which is 4.5miles north along a single track road from the village of Dunvegan. If driving from Portree it is 25.5miles and takes about 35 minutes.
This walk is suitable for any weather, but the beach looks its best when the tide is half in with the sun out – creating that ‘tropical’ look.
The carpark is located at the end of the single track road. There is an official gravel carpark, on a sunny day can become busy; please park sensibility avoiding blocking the road or any farm gates.
All dogs must be on leads. Strictly no camping or camp fires and take home your litter.
The track passes though farmland, so you may encounter both sheep and cattle. Sometimes there is a bull, but it is very unlikely that it will have any interest in people.
Make sure your look through the Walk SlideShow, as it give a step by step account of what you will encounter.
At the far end of the carpark there is a metal farm gate. It will be locked, but at the right hand side there is a smaller kissing gate. Head though the gate and follow the stony farm track of to the right.
The tack is very obvious, after 5 minutes or so you will came to a shallow river crossing, most of the time it’s very easy to cross. Next you will find another metal gate, again with a kissing gate for walkers.
Through the gate, the track heads downhill towards the rocky shore. The trail follows the shore line. There are some easy stream crossings all are shallow with stepping stones.
When you reach the first smaller bay the track divides. Take the left hand option, the path will now be muddy and then become grass.
Ahead you will see a stone wall, head for the break in the wall. On route you must cross a small stream, there are stepping stones.
After reaching the wall the path rises up and can be muddy when wet. When you reach the top of the rise you will now get your first view of Coral Beach. Worth a photograph!
As you continue along the path it will be eroded in places, but as the destination is now clear the route remains obvious.
Head downhill onto the flat grassy approach, there are a couple of streams to jump, but nothing challenging.
Now you have reached the beach take some time to explore.
Even though it’s called Coral Beach, it’s not really coral. It is crushed bleached skeletons of Red Coralline seaweed (also known as Maërl). Out on the reef by the Island of Lampay Coralline grows very slowly at 1mm per year. There are also many different and colourful shells on the beach, please look, but don’t take home!
As you explore there are some rock pools further along the beach prefect for searching for interesting creatures with the family.
Right by the beach there is a small hill which is known as the ‘Ghrobain’, a 2 minute climb gives a great view.
There is a small island maybe 150m offshore from the beach which is called ‘Lampay’. On the very low tides a coral causeway is revealed allowing access to the Island, an ideal opportunity to explore!
Return by the same route to the carpark, it may take a little longer as you will now be heading uphill for a short while.