A Hiking Elopement at Sgurr Na Stri and Loch Coruisk

A Hiking Elopement at Sgurr Na Stri and Loch Coruisk

Shay and Isaac met through hiking the Appalachian Trail, and so a hiking elopement was a must for them. They came to the Isle of Skye for their elopement after finding us through Wandering Weddings. On the day of the elopement, we hiked for 5 hours with their celebrant over a mountain, we stopped in a bothy where they signed the visitor book, and then we waded across a river and up to the top of Sgurr Na Stri for their elopement at the top. The plan was a sunrise ceremony, but the weather wasn’t good in the morning, so we set up camp and then did the ceremony overlooking Loch Coruisk, surrounded by the Cuillin mountains. The next morning we hiked down to the Loch, where they put their wedding outfits back on before taking a small boat back to Elgol where a luxury bell tent was set up where they spent the night.

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Planning a Hiking Elopement on the Isle of Skye

“No permits are required for this location; in fact, permits are not very common in Scotland. In a few locations, the landowner may require payment, but Sgurr Na Stri is not one of them. For Leave No Trace, we made sure that we packed out everything that we had brought in, and left no trace that we had camped on the mountain.

Sgurr Na Stri is located in a very remote location in the Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye, and requires high fitness levels to reach. There are a couple of options for reaching the top. On Shay and Isaacs’s day, we did a multi-hour hike that involved a chilly river crossing and climbing steeply up to the top of Sgurr Na Stri. It isn’t a huge mountain (494 metres/1600 feet), but it’s a long way from the road. The alternative option is to take the Misty Isle boat over to Loch Coruisk at the base of Sgurr Na Stri, which reduces the hiking but still requires good fitness.

The other main tip is to consider the weather. Shay and Isaac eloped in May, but the weather was still very cold and wet at times. In Scotland, we always say flexibility in your plans is key, but this is especially important for mountaintop elopements. Our original plan was to camp and do a sunrise ceremony, but the weather forecast showed that it was going to be raining in the morning and there wouldn’t be a sunrise, so we opted to set up camp and then immediately have the ceremony. It was definitely the right call, as we had better views of the surrounding mountains that evening. If you want to do a similar elopement in Scotland, we would definitely recommend booking two days for your elopement so that you can be flexible and use the best weather window for your elopement ceremony.” [Oli and Steph, the photographers]

Learn more about eloping in Scotland.

Deciding to Elope

“I never pictured myself getting married. Mostly because I never could picture myself in a big traditional wedding. When I learned eloping did not have to be something quiet or unspoken, but instead could be something that fed into my wanderlust and was a true celebration of who we are as a couple, I knew it was what I wanted. Isaac and I both agreed that traditional weddings don’t leave a lot of room for the couple and are often more performative. Eloping allowed our wedding day to be solely about us and being together. We were able to shape it around our passion for adventure and travel. A formal wedding would not have been true for us.” [Shay]

Check out these reasons to elope.

Deciding Where to Elope

“Isaac and I met in 2016 as we were thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. We knew that we wanted to be married on a mountain top and preferably while on a backpacking trip. Our passion for hiking and being outdoors is intricate to our lives, so we had to have it incorporated into our wedding.

In 2018 we spent nearly 4 months backpacking around Europe. Between backpacking the Coast-to-Coast Trail in England and doing a Work-for-Stay, we found ourselves with a week of unplanned time and the inability to travel too far. We realized that Scotland was just a quick bus then train ride away. We made our way to Edinburgh. The city was magical, and we fell in love with the old cobblestone and culture. We took a day tour bus to the Highlands and felt like idiots for not having realized the absolute beauty and abundant hiking trails enveloped in the mountains. We immediately started looking up long-distance trails we could hike in the future.

When I first brought up the idea of eloping Isaac was hesitant. When I suggested eloping to Scotland, he became very interested. The mountains of Appalachia, that captured our hearts and introduced us to each other, are a part of the same mountain range of the Cuillins. We always knew we would go back to Scotland and the ability to hike along the same mountain range which we fell in love along and continue down was a beautiful way to honor or marriage and continue our story.” [Shay]

Explore more places to elope.

Planning an Isle of Skye Hiking Elopement Adventure

“The hardest and most stressful part was getting our Marriage Visa. We knew that if we were going to elope to Scotland, we were going to be legally wed at that moment. We started the visa process 3 months before our wedding, the earliest you can. There were a few tense nights filling out the online forms. Then we had to take off work and drive to another state to complete the photo and fingerprinting portion. The scariest part was mailing our passports to New York and just having to wait. As hard as I looked for any sort of update on their status, I could not find one.

Thankfully, before we got too stressed, they showed up in our mailbox with the Marriage Visa sealed into one of the pages. There was a true moment of relief in having them back in our hands. It was the final piece of our wedding puzzle. While the decision to be legally wed in Scotland was the harder choice, we were ultimately happy that we jumped through the extra hoops.” [Shay]

Estimated Cost From This Elopement

“Overall, the total of what went into the wedding was about $15,000. This does include our plane tickets, photographers, marriage visa and license, our car rental (which we had for longer than just the wedding), items for the ceremony (vow books, flowers, wedding signs), Bell Tent, Officiant, and our wedding clothes.

If you break it down to the cost needed to elope to Scotland vs normal wedding expenses, it was $6,000 vs $9,000. We spent a total of three and a half weeks in Scotland. So funds such as plane tickets and the car rental also counted towards our honeymoon and side adventures.” [The couple]

Learn more about elopement costs.

Memorable Moments During This Elopement

From the photographers:

“We’d have to say their first look at the top of the mountain, overlooking Loch Coruisk was an incredible moment. The wind was blowing Shay’s dress beautifully, and the expression on Isaac’s face when he turned around is something we’ll never forget.

Another special memory was from late on their elopement day, sitting by our campfire, drinking whisky and listening to Shay and Isaac’s favourite music, and spending hours just chatting about their day, life and hiking!

The day after their elopement on the mountain, we hiked down to the Loch and took the boat back across the ocean to their bell tent, where they had their first dance, overlooking the water and with views back to the mountain they said their vows on.”

From the couple:

“If I had to pick, it would have to be the First Look. Oli, Ashton, and I had gone ahead to the spot while my wife slipped into her dress and finished getting ready. Though I had a 3-piece tweed suit on, the weather was colder than anticipated, and as I waited, looking out across the mountain range, I started to get very cold, and that started to be the only thing I could think about. Next thing I know, I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn around to see my beautiful partner, Shay. Grinning from ear to ear, with the wind billowing her beautiful dress, she was breathtaking. In that moment of my happiness, every minor care about the cold was swept away by the happiness I had of being in that moment with the love of my life.” – Issac

“My favorite part was our vows. We had written them back at home but kept them a secret from each other. Once on top of Sgurr Na Stri, with the scenery of the Cuillins. Mountains, holding each other’s hands tightly, speaking those words out loud was magic. Isaac made me laugh and smile and I was surprised to find I got teary saying mine. It was like the entire world had paused in that moment as the mountain mist swirled around us. In those moments I truly felt like we were the only people in the world. Entirely focused on each other and how excited we were to be getting married. Our vows told the story of who we have been and how we have grown. They reminisce on how we came together and spoke of dreams for the future.” – Shay

Details We Love From This Elopement

“We loved the wooden boards that had their vows etched onto them. We’ve never seen a couple use these before and they really make amazing mementos to keep. We also loved the tartan that they incorporated, Shay’s shawl and Isaac’s scarf. Many of the couples coming to Scotland to elope have some Scottish heritage, and using clan tartan is a beautiful way of acknowledging that.

For their hand fasting Shay used a piece of her mothers wedding dress, which made her family feel close, despite them eloping just the two of them, across the Atlantic from their family.

Finally the bell tent they spent the night in after the wedding day was incredible! The homemade macaroons were so delicious, and it was the perfect place to celebrate after their wedding.” [Oli and Steph, the photographers]

Final Words of Advice From The Couple

“Your wedding day will go by so fast. Our wedding took place over 2 days, and it still didn’t feel like enough time. We spent nearly every minute of our wedding together and I can’t imagine a wedding day where we would have spent half the day apart.

A wedding is not the start or the end of building a relationship. For us having it as a true reflection of us made it all the more special and was a chance to continue investing in each other. We were never worried about what other people wanted out of our wedding day. In the end they will not live with those memories the same way we will.” [The couple]


Photo | Oli and Steph Photography 
Celebrant | Ashton Easter @ashtonthehumanist
Bell tent and picnic stylist | Wandering Events @wandering_events

Photos From This Elopement

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