the cuillin ridge traverse

The Cuillin Ridge Traverse: Best hikes in the world

Author: Rosie Fuller

Over the ensuing months, we’re taking a look at some of the best hikes in the world. Next up is one of the finest and longest Alpine-style rock routes in Europe, and one of the UK’s most challenging, the spectacular Cuillin Ridge Traverse.

The Cuillin Ridge Traverse, found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland is too magnificent to ignore and, as an Alpine route, it is often called the greatest mountaineering challenge in Britain. Only those with high levels of fitness that are competent in mountaineering, rock climbing and scrambling should tackle this incredible ridge. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted.

lone walker on Cuillin ridge traverse
Photo: Thierry Gregorius

Generally taking two days, the expedition involves traversing the ridge’s 22 peaks, with over 4,000m ascent and descent along the way. You’ll need to spend the night in a bivouac along the way, and on average this means spending over 30 hours in the mountains, with approximately 9-15 hours spent scrambling along the ridge itself, with concentration demanded for each and every step. It’s not for the inexperienced, but it’s arguably the finest climb in the UK.

Those planning to attempt the climb should do so with the help of a guide, and make sensible decisions about the safety of all those involved, especially in wet conditions or where there are high winds. For this reason it is recommended to take on the Cuillin Ridge Traverse in the summer, from May to September for the best chance of good weather. You should travel to Skye with plenty of time to spare so that you can pick the best possible conditions for the climb.

Over the course of the climb you’ll take in incredible panoramic views of the surrounding terrain and will experience dramatic drop-offs that are sure to get your heart racing. Plus, at the end of this exhilarating traverse you’ll have a massive feeling of accomplishment and pride.