Enjoy 3 free, easy walks in Dornie

As well as being a great location for hillwalking, there are some really easy walks in the village itself.  Enjoy a slower pace of life and take in the sights and sounds as you go along the shore or up the hill.  If you’re planning to call into any of the places mentioned, best to check opening times before you set off.

From croft to castle

(10-15 minutes one way)

This is one of the best walks.  One day we’ll get round to our longstanding dream of creating an interpretation trail in Dornie, explaining the history of the townships, the importance of fishing and crofting and the village’s link to the famous Eilean Donan Castle.  But this is not it.  Instead, just a short version of some of the things you’ll see if you walk from Dornie Croft to Eilean Donan Castle.

Leave Dornie Croft and turn left.  You’ll walk along the road beside the sea to start with so watch out for any traffic.  Across the loch is the village of Camuslongart and that could be part of a longer walk.

Immediately behind the houses on Caroline and Frances Street (no street signs) are crofts.  These are small agricultural holdings which were passed down through the generations but can now be bought and sold.

You’ll walk past the old school.  This served the village and surrounding area up until the 1980s when a new school was built 3 miles away.  Next is the Dornie Shop.  It’s currently closed but a community group has bought it and are hoping to establish a service there again.

Dornie Hotel has been part of the village for a long time and is a great stop for coffee, drinks or a meal but just now we’re going to keep on walking.  Cross the road to reach the Clachan Bar (again a great stopping off place but we’re going to keep going).  Walk along in front of the brightly coloured houses with their enclosed gardens on the other side of the street.

When you reach the end of the row of houses, continue along the tarred footpath which climbs slightly, with the community garden on your left-hand side.  Then when you reach the top of the slope, continue straight ahead and go down the steps through the underpass.  This means you don’t have to cross the A87 which is often very busy.  Once you come out of the underpass, Eilean Donan Castle carpark is straight ahead and you can follow the footpath round by the shore to the visitor centre and the Castle.

If you want to make this a longer walk, instead of going straight ahead to the castle carpark, turn right and walk across Dornie Bridge.  At the other end of the bridge is a café All the Goodness.  You can continue to the township of Ardelve, either by the shore or stay on the pavement.  There’s a fantastic bakery, coffee shop, and distillery in Ardelve – Manuela’s Wee Bakery.  Check it out on Instagram or facebook.  Or once you are across the bridge, cross the road to Loch Duich Apartments and follow the road to Camuslongart to look across Loch Long to Dornie.


Dornie Croft to Eilean Donan Castle viewpoint

(15-20 minutes one way)

This route starts off in the same way, as far as Dornie Hotel.  Then at the end of the hotel, turn left up the hill away from the main road.  Follow the pavement until it turns left into Duthacs Drive.  Continue along the road (no pavement) and walk about 800 yds (1km) and you’ll reach a large parking area.

This has great views onto the castle, the Isle of Skye and the Skye bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh. If you want to go further, you can continue along the road which climbs quite steeply to reach another viewpoint (about one hour).  This one has great views both east to the hills of Kintail and Knoydart and west to the Isle of Skye.


Dornie Croft to Bundalloch

(25-30 minutes, completely flat)

The area known as Dornie is actually made up of different townships – Dornie itself, then Lagg, then Carn Dubh and then Bundaloch. When you leave Dornie Croft, turn right.  The first main building is St Duthac’s Catholic Church.  This was built in 1860s and is still in use today.  Mass is on Sundays at 12.45pm.  In its car park on the shore side of the road is the only Scots pine tree in the village.  After the church, the next stretch is known as Lagg – or Lag in Scottish Gaelic which means a hollow.  See our blog on 10 Gaelic words you already know if you want to find out more about Gaelic.

Fishing – Along the shore, if the tide is out, you’ll see lines of stones leading down to the water.  On old maps as well as the splashbacks in the kitchen, you can see the boat piers that stretched along the shore.  Dornie was created as a fishing village and boats were built here. The boats that are near the shore on this side are all for personal use but across the water at Gob an Tuir are a few boats that fish commercially for prawns (langoustines).  You can buy local seafood from the great Fisherman’s Kitchen in Kyle or from their van, Loopy’s Fish Van, that visits Dornie on a Tuesday afternoon.

Crofting – The ground beyond the stone wall that runs the length of the village is the boundary with the common grazing.  This system of land use was common through the Highlands and Islands and is still in use in some parts today.  Just beyond the fields, the next township is Càrn Dubh (Black Pile of Stones). The small island that dries out at low tide is known as Eilean nan Caorach (the island of sheep) showing that it was used for grazing.  It’s now home to gulls and oystercatchers that nest there during the spring and summer months.

Sheep grazing on a hill with the view looking down to Eilean Donan Castle and the three lochs - Duich, Long and Alsh. Looking onto the Isle of Skye and the Skye bridge in the distance.

Crofting in Dornie

Buildings – Two other features of the village are the stone buildings and sheds and roofs made with corrugated iron.  Look out for the sheds and houses that make use of both.

Wildlife  – As you stroll along, you’ll see lots of birds on the shore.  From the herons which roost in Conchra to herring gulls on the water, plus the curlew with its long curving beak and different types of ducks.  If you’re interested in birdlife, check out Skye Birds website with its reports of sightings across the area.  If you’re lucky, you might spot otters swimming close to the shore or having their dinner on the rocks.  And overhead, you might spot a golden or sea eagle or buzzards, and almost definitely hoodie crows and sometimes ravens.  There are also dippers in the River Glennan at the end of the tarred road.

Croft houses – Along the way, you’ll see a mix of old croft houses and more modern ones.  Don’t make the rookie error of calling a house a croft, they’re related but separate.  The croft is the land, the croft house is the home of the crofter.  Once you come round the point of Rubha Buidhe, you’ll see the layout of a traditional west coast crofting township.  This is Bundaloch (the foot of two lochs) and is the original village with Dornie being a later addition.

There are some fantastic old photos in St Andrew’s University showing some of the residents and their houses in the 1920s.  If you look at old maps, you’ll see how densely this was populated and many of the old houses are still either in use as homes or as sheds.

When you reach the end of the tarred road, you have a choice of making your way back to Dornie Croft or continuing on across the River Glennan along a rough track which can take you to Camusluinne.  If you choose the track please be aware that you need good walking shoes or boots and take a map with you if you plan to follow it for any distance.

We hope you enjoy your walks and if you want to know more about the area, please don’t hesitate to ask us!