One of the delights of holidays with your dogs is the chance to explore new places. Good your your head and good for your dogs nose.

But Skye and Lochalsh can be a challenge. We’ve free ranging sheep and cattle on common grazings related to crofting and lots of people keep chickens, and these might be free roaming too. The deer population in Skyecand Lochalsh is quite low but in Kintail, Torridon, Glen Elg, you’ll find more.

So unless your dog is remarkably low in prey drive, you need to be alert.
Fortunately, the woodland walks above Varis are livestock free. There is the occasional deer but there aren’t many. There may be livestock or horse in the fields below the footpath between Varis and Kirkton.

When we stay in the house, our dogs regular morning circuit is up into the woodland behind the house. There are a number of variants including going to the top of the local peak Scurr Mor and Auchtertyre Hill. Lovely views. Dogs are normally safe to be off the lead around this circuit if they’ve good recall. You’ll meet other local dog walkers so usual care is needed

We also walk our dog at

The Plock – just as you go onto the Skye Bridge, park at the old Toll Office and walk into this community managed area. Much of the land was used for many years as a golf course but it’s become a rich habitat and a valued community resource. Cattle are sometimes used to help manage the land so exercise some caution but it’s normally livestock free. There are some great places for you and your dog to take a dip in the sea. And a few very peaty small streams which mean you might suddenly get very interested in sea bathing for dogs.

Coral Beach, by Plockton airstrip. Head to Plockton, turn left over railway bridge and follow signs to Rowan Croft. At the Croft, turn left and follow the road to a parking area. Follow the path to the beach. There may livestock in the field on either side of the path or indeed on the path or even on the beach. But most times, it’s a great place to run free.

Ard Hill – the hill in front of Varis to the left is Ard Hill and there is a network of forest tracks. If you bear left, you can get onto the shore where the Ard sticks out from Balmacara Bay and there are some nice stoney beaches below the cliffs.

Kinloch Forest – along the road to Sleat on the left just before Kinloch Lodge is Kinloch Forest. It’s well signposted. Drive to the parking area and follow a good forest track to the ruins of a cleared village. You can return via a higher less well made path.

Marble Path – from Broadford runs the road to Elgol. A short distance beyond the village is the start of the Marble paths. There is a section of the walk that benefits from deer fencing. Beware however that there are ground nesting birds in the area so don’t let your dog run free May to August.

Balmacara Wood – the NTS’s base is just along the shore from Reraig and the woodland has a range of walks. It is fenced on the side of the A87 but exercise a little caution particularly at the start of the walk and higher places on the walk further in just in case there is a gap in the fence.

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