Patrick Grant: the Scottish beach where you can really get away from it all

Patrick Grant is an engineer turned fashion designer, and these days is probably best known as a judge on BBC1’s The Great British Sewing Bee. However, his passion is his three fashion brands, bespoke tailor Norton & Sons (founded 1821), which he acquired in 2005 after selling all his worldly belongings to fund the purchase, E Tautz & Sons (founded 1867), which he relaunched in 2009 as a ready-to-wear menswear label, and Community Clothing (founded by Grant in 2016), a collection of casual pieces designed to give work to British factories and deliver well-made basics for an affordable price. Scottish by birth, Grant is now based in London, but heads up north when he can to a remote beach on the Isle of Skye to reconnect with his roots

The place I like to go to when I need to really decompress is a bothy on Camasunary Beach on the west coast of the Isle of Skye. You find bothies in Scotland, the north of England, Wales and Ulster in Ireland, in remote, often mountainous areas. A bothy is a simple shelter without any facilities; you will usually find them unlocked, and you can stay in one for free. This one on Skye is a hut, and is run by the Mountain Bothies Association. It describes staying in a bothy as “camping without a tent”, which is pretty accurate. 

I like it here because there really isn’t anything for miles around. You have to walk for a good hour and a half carrying all your stuff to this beach, after parking at the end of a really remote road in the middle of nowhere. If you want to get away from the world, this is the place. It really is one of the most spectacular beaches you will find anywhere on Earth. The view inland is great, too, as it is surrounded by mountains. That’s why I’ve shot campaigns for one of my brands – E Tautz – there. There are unparalleled vistas.

Once there, you can do some exploring. Walk round a fairly treacherous coastal path to a place called, rather ominously, the Bad Step. This gets you to the mouth of a hidden valley. If you don’t fancy the walk you can get a little ferry to the valley entrance instead. This is on the edge of Loch Coruisk, which is an amazing place. 

To my mind, the bothy on the beach is simply the best free accommodation anywhere on the planet. Mind you, you have to bring your bedding in and out, and any fuel you may want to use to keep warm. Everybody is welcome, but you have to abide by the Bothy Code, which is all about respect – for fellow users, the bothy itself and its surroundings.

I’ve been going to the Isle of Skye for about 20 years. I first went up to the Highlands to buy tweeds from various places, like the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Harris. To get to Harris you drive through Skye, and then take the ferry. That’s a great crossing and you see dolphins, basking sharks, sea otters, even killer whales. It was on these trips that I fell in love with the place, and found Camasunary Beach.

The bothy there is not marked on a map, so it’s usually members of the association who know where it is. But you don’t need to be a member to sleep there. And on your doorstep, you’ll find the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the UK – the Cuillin mountain range is breathtaking. But all the Hebridean islands are incredible; if you get good weather, there’s nowhere more picturesque. And the sunset on the west coast on the Isle of Skye is unbeatable if you get a good one.

So, when to go? You can drive across to Skye from the mainland, which is why in the summer it is very busy. I’d avoid visiting during June, July and August. That is also when the midges are worst. Instead, go out of season, in April or May, September or October. In fact, in winter this place is incredible, though you will need to be well prepared with kit to stay warm and deal with the weather, and if you go further afield you may need some proper mountaineering skills. But then again, you could just hang out, make a brew and walk. Perfect.

nortonandsons.co.uk; communityclothing.co.uk

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.