SURROUNDING AREA AND ACTIVITIES
To stay at the The Old Church is to stay amongst nature in its most raw and powerful state. Many people come to this valley to appreciate its awe inspiring beauty but few have the opportunity to enjoy their morning coffee or evening glass of wine whilst gazing on its many peaks. Blaven at over 900m rears dramatically up from Loch Slapin and dominates the skyline; however there are another five mountains over 700 meters in the dramatic amphitheatre that surrounds the loch. The Old Church provides the chance for all lovers of the outdoors to enjoy a fantastic break in a landscape they will never forget.
The Old Church has fabulous walking from its doorstep. There are gentle paths along the shore of Loch Slapin and to the hidden waterfalls for those who prefer a relaxing wander. For those with something a little more strenuous in mind there is almost unlimited hill walking in all directions. Children find themselves in a world of exploration where they can play and adventure until they’re called in for tea. Those with a head for adventure will find routes graded from the easiest scramble to alpine style climbing on Blaven and Clach Glas. Kayakers will love the beautiful scenery whether they choose to stay in the sheltered loch or venture out into the open water.
Golden eagles, hawks, deer, otters, herons and seals are amongst the animals regularly seen by guests at the The Old Church. The John Muir Trust, a conservation organisation dedicated to maintaining this area of outstanding beauty owns most of the land and mountains visible from the cottage. Indeed much of the land surrounding The Old Church is designated as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and Torrin is also covered by the golden eagle special protection area (SPA). There is a small seal colony living just off shore and otters can be seen bobbing their heads above water whilst hunting for fish. Crabs and lobsters can be caught from the small boat launching jetty on the opposite side of the loch. For those wanting to get closer to some of the spectacular sea life, the Bella Jane and Aquaxplore run fabulous boat trips from Elgol, just 15minutes down the road. The Aquaxplore gives unbeatable opportunities to see Sea Eagles, Minke Whales, Dolphins and Basking Sharks whilst the Bella Jane is the only way to access the isolated and beautiful Loch Coruisk.
Skye is a haven for walkers of all ambitions and many of them choose to visit Torrin. Blaven is the most incredibly rewarding peak with good paths for much of the way, with only a small scramble near the summit it is accessible to most walkers. Consequently, this is one of the few opportunities for walkers who do not wish to scramble and climb to gain such fabulous views and reach the peak of the Black Cullin. For those with less dramatic ambitions or who are just looking for a pleasant wander the loch shore and water falls make beautiful destinations. The waterfalls are linked by marble pools and are no less wondrous than their more famous big sisters, the Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle. All the peaks in the valley have walking opportunities and many are listed in The Isle of Skye (Cicerone Guide) by Terry Marsh and on the Walk Highlands web site. Both these guides also detail much of the fabulous walking that is accessible on the rest of this wondrous island.
Many kayakers come to Skye to appreciate its beautiful coastline with its many inlets and sea lochs. Loch Slapin is an ideal base to begin exploring Skye by kayak. The sheltered nature of the loch makes it perfect for beginners; fishing boats that operate from Elgol all use the far side of the loch as safe mooring. For the more experienced there is the opportunity to explore the sea caves, to paddle around the headland and perhaps spend a night at Loch Coruisk. The atmosphere in the valley make paddling on Loch Slapin a wonderfully peaceful experience and the ubiquitous seals and occasional otters make fabulous companions. Kayakers will find an easy and popular launch site, which has been cleared of large boulders, behind the old village school 400m from The Old Church.
CLIMBERS AND SCRAMBLERS
Skye and the Black Cullin are internationally recognised as a fantastic climbing location. Its sticky gabbro rock and alpine style ridges make the Black Cullin a unique and spectacular climbing site. Blaven and Clach Glas provide wide and varied climbing and scrambling opportunities. For scramblers there are grade 1, 2 and 3 routes which move from the gentle to the definitely tricky. For climbers routes run the full range from VS to technical routes that only the very experienced would consider. Skye Scrambles – the Scottish Mountaineering Club guide provides excellent information on routes in the valley and on the rest of this outstanding island.
In 1772, Thomas Pennant wrote of the view from a point close to the site of The Old Church. “The prospect to the west was that of desolation itself; a savage series of rude mountains, discoloured, black and red, as if by the rage of fire. The serrated tops of Blaven affect with astonishment: and beyond them, the clustered height of Quillan (Cuillin).”
EATING AND DRINKING
Skye is home to many excellent restaurants. There are a number in nearby Broad ford including Creelers and Red Skye which many guests have enjoyed. For real foodies it is only a short drive to the Michelin starred Kinloch Lodge Hotel. In the north of the Island is the internationally renowned Three Chimneys where a number of guests have reported having one of the best meals they have ever tasted. Skye is home to the Talisker distillery which has a visitor centre and the opportunity to taste some of their peaty wonder. The Isle of Skye brewery brews many different cask and bottle conditioned ales including Black Cuillin, Red Cuillin and Blaven, all of which are definitely worth a sample.