Like a dark magic mirror, Loch Coruisk lies hemmed in by craggy mountain peaks amidst the mountains of Skye. No road leads to it. Coruisk is one of Scotland’s most beautiful but also one of its most remote lochs. The loch is dotted with small islands and rocks. Around it tower the black Cuillins – it’s eerily quiet.
So spooky that many a previous visitor there was terrified. Fear of the water spirit “kelpie”, for example. The Kelpie usually appears in the form of a horse on the shore, offering itself to tired hikers to ride. But of course it sees the hiker rather as a small snack …
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Loch Coruisk’s dark waters flow over a beautiful little rock plateau into the sea loch na Cuilce (Cuilc means reed), which is part of the great bay of Scavaig. Seals lie resting or raising their young on the small islets in the sea loch.
There are no roads here. The Cuillins shield the valley with Loch Coruisk in it, only footpaths lead here. Or boats. And there are plenty of them now. Several operators offer boat trips to Loch Coruisk. They bring hikers here or just onlookers who climb back into the boat after an hour.
Only in the evening it gets quiet and lonely. Only sometimes some sailing ships anchor in the sea loch, but most of the time there is not a soul to be found here either.
Special features: The shortest river in Great Britain
From Loch Coruisk to Loch Scavaig – that is, the sea – it is about 300 metres. This distance is bridged by the Scavaig River – making it the shortest river in Britain.
Tip: By boat to Loch Coruisk
A relatively relaxed way to visit Coruisk is by boat. For example, Bella Jane Boat Trips offers the trip from Elgol by sea to the loch. Along the way, you may see seals and, if you’re lucky, maybe even whales.
At Scavaig sea loch is a small hut – the JMCS Memorial Hut. This is a great place for hikers to stay if they are going on a multi-day trek. The hut is fully equipped – only sleeping bags and food should be brought.
Knowledge: A kettle from the ice age
The name Coruisk – pronounced roughly “Korüschk” – is a rewritten form of the Gaelic Corrie Uisg, meaning simply “the glen of water”. (“Uisg”, incidentally, is also contained in the word “whisky”, whose Gaelic spelling “Uisge Beatha” translates as “water of life”. There you can see the linguistic relationship with our “Aquavit”, which is Latin and also means nothing else).
Loch Coruisk is a freshwater lake from the ice age. It measures about 2.5 kilometres in length but only about 400 metres at its widest point. A walk around the loch is about 7 kilometres – but the area is boggy.
Personal Notes: Life Danger and Life Companion
I really have a lot of personal connection with Loch Coruisk. For one thing, I went there twice on foot in the 1990s. Friends and I hiked out from Glenbrittle and camped on the shore of the waterfall to the sea. It’s really lonely and beautiful there at night.
However, Loch Coruisk was one of the few places I was really in mortal danger of being near. Because when we wanted to continue towards Kilmarie, we had set our minds to continue along the coast, following the path. We got lost in the pouring rain and ended up with our 20 kilo backpacks on a ledge that was maybe 30 centimetres wide, with the churning sea below us. At this point we wisely made the decision to turn back and take the route to Sligachan.
One step off the mark would have been enough at that time …
Today I know that we hit the notorious “The Bad Step” here, which can only be passed below at low tide.
Wedding at Loch Coruisk: The second experience, on the other hand, was much nicer. For my wife and I got married at Loch Coruisk. If you’re interested in pictures of the ceremony at the loch, check out the article Our Highland wedding in pictures.
By boat from Elgol, it’s around 30 minutes – depending on how many more seals you want to marvel at along the way, the time can be extended.
The hike from Sligachan has about 12 kilometers easy (!) and including quite a few meters of altitude and the crossing of a small river, which can swell strongly in the rain.
The hike from Glenbrittle can also be done as a ridge climb or along the coast – about 12 kilometers with a lot of cross country.
Another trail leads from the road at Kilmarie about 10 kilometers easy walk to Loch Coruisk.
The trails are all on the Landranger Map, which can be found here.