Brothers’ Point, also known as Rubha nam Brathairean in Gaelic, is a dramatic headland in the Isle of Skye which juts out into the Atlantic ocean. Located on the Trotternish Loop, it was once a lesser-known attraction on Skye but now garners its fair share of intrepid explorers.
When it comes to the best hikes on the Isle of Skye, you will rarely find Brothers’ Point mentioned on any list, however, it is a great trek which offers stunning views of the island and its coastline. Whilst more than a little precarious in bad weather and definitely a hike which requires you to exercise a little caution, this spot is a worthy addition to any Skye itinerary.
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Brothers’ Point History
The Isle of Skye is known for its rich history and legends. Just look at the story behind Sligachan Bridge and the tale of Spar Cave! However, discovering the history behind Brothers’ Point was more difficult than expected.
It is believed that Brother’s Point was so-named because a group of monks once called this area home. There is debate as to why the monks first came here, with some believing they retreated to the headland for a life of solitude and others theorising that they were victims of a shipwreck. Archaeological evidence on the Trotternish peninsula suggests Medieval Monks, Iron Age warriors and hunter-gatherers all once walked through the landscape of Skye.
Brothers’ Point is home to a natural rock tower named Dun Hasan. It is believed that this is the remains of a man-made fort. Whilst we will never know exactly how Brothers’ Point has been used through the millennia, what we do know is that the area is full of history, including some much older than originally thought…
Rubha nam Brathairean Dinosaur Footprints
Skye is known for being home to dinosaur footprints and archaeologists have done much research on the island to learn more about these prehistoric beasts. In 2018, Brothers’ Point hit the news after the discovery of dinosaur prints there.
These prints are particularly interesting to researchers as they have been dated from the Jurassic Period 170 million years ago. Footprints from this time are rare and these are the second batch to be discovered on Skye. It is believed that the majority of the prints were made by long-necked sauropods. There are also some prints belonging to Theropods. These dinosaurs would have looked similar to the T-Rex, with two legs and three toes on each foot. Many of the birds we have today evolved from certain species of Theropods.
Whilst many of the older articles on Brothers’ Point will tell you that it is a hidden gem, this is really no longer the case. The discovery of the dinosaur tracks catapulted this spot into the mainstream and now, crowds of visitors come to search for the ancient prints.
Combing the beach area is fun, however, sadly we never found any prints during our visit. Whilst this was disappointing, it certainly didn’t detract from the buzz we got from looking! If you do want to try your luck at spotting the prints, make sure you check the Brothers’ Point tide times in advance as they are only visible at low tide.
How to get to Brothers’ Point?
The Brothers’ Point car park is located along the A855. Don’t be expecting anything too grand though, this place is literally just a lay-by, located in Culnacnoc.
We arrived at the parking area before midday and there were no cars there. However, when we left a few hours later, the lay-by was completely full. If possible, try to visit first thing in the morning (tide-permitting if you are hunting for dinosaur prints) and don’t park in any nearby passing places. These are crucial for managing traffic flow and leaving the road free of obstructions.
It is from the car park at Culnacnoc where the hike begins. The route is roughly laid out on the map above but there are more detailed directions below. The trail is an out and back so after you reach the end of Brothers’ Point, you will simply need to return via your original route.
Brothers’ Point Hike Stats
- Distance: 3.5km/2.25 miles
- Duration: 2 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
Hiking Rubha nam Brathairean (Brothers’ Point)
I’ll admit, when I first saw that the hike stats estimated it would take 2 hours to walk just 3.5 km, I was pretty surprised. I soon found out why this estimate is on the conservative side!
Generally speaking, the Brothers’ Point hike follows an easy, out and back trail, however, once you actually make it to the headland, there are some steep sections of trail and a couple of mini scrambles which increase the difficulty level.
The hike begins at the Culnacnoc lay-by. Look out for the signs to Rubha nam Brathairean, there is one is the lay-by and another located around 50 metres down the other side of the road. Head in the direction of the shoreline, going through a gate. Here there is an information board about Brothers’ Point, which shows you the walking trail down to the beach.
From here, you will need to turn right before quickly forking left on to a path. The route goes downhill until it reaches a farm gate. Open the gate (make sure you remember to close it behind you because livestock grazes in this area) and continue to follow the path past the ruined croft houses and to the shore. You have the option to linger a while here if you like. The beach is a beautiful spot on a sunny day and if its low tide, you may even get lucky and spot some of the famous Isle of Skye dinosaur footprints!
To continue with the hike to Brothers’ Point, make sure you’ve crossed the stream on the beach and continue around the shore. Here you can see the suspected ruins of Roderick MacDonald’s house on the right. The house is believed to have been occupied until the late 18th century. The left-hand ruin is a former salmon netting station.
The path at this point gets a little boggy so make sure you are wearing some decent hiking boots. Along this part of the trail, the Brothers’ Point headland emerges into view. Continue your way up the sea cliffs until you arrive at a grassy area. This is a great spot to take photos.
The next part of the hike is potentially the most precarious so make sure you weigh up the risks before you continue. Follow the path along the side of the cliff before it ascends steeply into Dun Hasan. Once you’ve reached the top of the hill, get ready to make another steep descent the other side. I’d definitely recommend bringing hiking poles because it helps you keep your balance on the steep descents!
At this stage, you’ll be able to see the finish point of the hike. Once you’ve reached the end, make sure you take some time to enjoy the scenery. The views of Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls (one of Scotland’s most beautiful waterfalls) are incredible from this point. There is also a chance you could see dolphins so keep your eyes peeled!
To return to the start point of the hike, follow the trail back the way that you came.
For those hiking with dogs, it is worth bearing in mind that sheep wander these areas freely and could be where you don’t expect them. Make sure you always keep your dog on a lead to prevent it from worrying livestock.
Is hiking Brothers’ Point safe?
As you leave the beach area and make your way towards the point, you will notice that there are signs warning you about the steep cliffs. The earlier information board also advises you against walking the full way to Brothers’ Point for safety reasons.
When we visited, we were not entirely sure that we were going to hike the full trail but after careful assessment of the route on Walk Highlands and also because of the weather conditions on the day, we decided to do the complete trek. There are a few precarious sections along the cliff edge with a vertical drop and a little bit of scrambling is required, however, for experienced walkers this should be no issue.
Be very careful when you decide to hike to Brothers’ Point and under no circumstances attempt the full hike in bad weather. Although you can do the hike if you are visiting Skye in winter, the winds can be fierce and you would struggle along the cliff edge in powerful gusts. Rain would also make parts of the trail very challenging, not to mention slippery and boggy!
As with any kind of risky hike, always let somebody know where you are going before attempting it and keep a close eye on the weather forecast.
What to Take on a Hike to Brothers’ Point:
- Waterproof/windproof jacket
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Hiking poles
- Smidge (to keep away the Scottish midges)
- A sense of adventure!
Accommodation near Rubha nam Brathairean
Located in Staffin, only a short drive from Brothers’ Point is the budget-friendly option Benview Bed and Breakfast. The rooms are clean and comfortable and a delicious Scottish breakfast or continental option is available in the morning. The views of the surrounding scenery are great at this place.
If you are travelling in a group or looking for a more luxurious experience, why not rent an entire holiday home? Situated in Staffin, this accommodation option has two bedrooms as well as a fully equipped kitchen. Those of you travelling with pets will be pleased to hear that Quaraing House also caters for your furry friends so there is no reason to leave any of the family at home!
Just a 15-minute drive from Brothers’ Point is the fancy Flodigarry Hotel. If you’re looking for a no expenses spared kind of trip, then this hotel could be the place for you. This country house offers incredible views of the Scottish mainland and Torridons and you will want for nothing during your stay. To get the ultimate cosy Skye experience, request a room with a four-poster bed and make sure to have a night reading by the log fire!