Loch Shianta – The Isle of Skye’s Most Sacred Wild Swim Spot

There are countless places on the Isle of Skye to take a dip, however, Loch Shianta is surely one of the best. This wee lochan sits firmly off the tourist trail and is home to some of the clearest freshwater that you’ll find anywhere on the island. For wild swimmers, a dip in Loch Shianta is a must! 

To prepare you for your cold water experience (and yes, it will be cold!), I’ve outlined everything you need to know about Loch Shianta below. From the best time to visit, to what to bring – you’ll be itching to add this underrated spot to your Skye itinerary! 

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Loch Shianta (Loch Sheanta) – A Guide for Visitors

Loch Shianta Map

What is Loch Shianta?

Loch Shianta, also sometimes spelt Loch Sheanta, is a wonderful wild swim spot on the Isle of Skye. This hidden gem sits between the townships of Staffin and Flodigarry in the Trotternish Peninsula.

Loch Sheanta:Shianta
Do you think these waters could have healing powers?

Back in medieval times, the Loch Siant well played a very important role within the local community. It was believed that the waters had healing powers and the sick were brought here to cure their ailments. First they would take a drink of the water, before circling the well three times in a clockwise direction. It was also believed that the nearby plants also had medicinal uses. 

Many people would leave an offering at the spring such as coloured threads, coins or clothing, to thank the well for healing them. In Scots, a clootie is a strip of cloth, leading these scared wells to be named clootie wells. The most famous clootie well in Scotland sits in Munlochy

Getting ready to swim at Shianta
Psyching myself up to get into the cold water!

These days, there are no clooties at Loch Shianta. However, the spot has retained its magic and is known locally as a very special place. It is most popular with wild swimmers who come to take a dip in the chilling crystal clear waters.

Around 25 metres long, the loch is surrounded by trees on both sides and there is also a grassy area where you can leave your stuff or enjoy a picnic on a nice day. The turquoise water is super clear but don’t be fooled, this loch is much deeper than it appears!

Swimming in Loch Shianta 1
The loch is a wonderful place to take a dip!

When to Visit Loch Shianta

Loch Shianta is a great wild swimming spot all year long. As it is fed by a spring, the water temperature stays pretty constant year-round. But, take it from someone who knows – it is really cold!

Girl looks cold in Loch Shianta
Loch Shianta is cold!

How to Get to Loch Shianta

Loch Shianta is marked on Google Maps. It sits between Flodigarry and Staffin just past Digg. There is a small car parking area which can cater to around five small vehicles. The walk begins from the car park through the gate and along the marked path. 

There are stones en route which feature Gaelic words. The journey down to Shianta takes around 10 minutes on foot. Follow the trail (ignoring the first loch that comes into sight) until its end. It is here that you will see Loch Shianta to your north. While you can enter the loch at a number of points, you will need to ford the stream at the far end and follow an indistinct path towards the hazel copse to see the spring. 

Approaching Loch Shianta
Approaching Loch Shianta.

Tips for Swimming at Loch Shianta

  1. Wear swim booties if you have them

I wore my neoprene swim booties at Loch Shianta and boy I am glad I did! They helped me to navigate the slippery rocks and prevented my toes from getting cold. This made it far easier to go for the full submerge!

My booties help me stay warm!
  1. Keep an eye on how long you’re swimming

You don’t need to be in the water for long to feel the benefits of wild swimming. Listen to your body and don’t stay in longer than 20 minutes

  1. Take warm layers to change into

I’m talking hats, gloves, the works. You may not feel the cold when you first exit the water, however, it can sneak up on you. Change into warm clothes as soon as you exit Shianta to stop your body temperature from falling further. 

Hiking to Loch Shianta 1
I brought warm clothes to change into after my swim.
  1. Prepare a hot water bottle

I recommend bringing a hot water bottle and leaving it in your car. This will help you warm up slowly after your swim. 

  1. Bring a hot drink

There is nothing better than a hot drink after you’ve submerged yourself in freezing water! You should never take a hot shower immediately after cold water immersion, instead warm yourself up gently. 

Have you been swimming at Loch Shianta yet? Share your experience in the comments below!