The Isle of Skye was a true highlight from my Haggis tour of the Scottish Highlands. An incredible place of natural beauty, the island is the northernmost of the Inner Hebrides. Archaelogical digs on the island shows that it has a long history, dating back at least to Mesolithic times. The Gaelic name for Skye is An t-Eilean Sgitheanach, the exact meaning of which is unknown. It may mean notched or winged isle. Amongst the earliest written references is the Romans which labeled the isle, Scitis. The island also has Norse history and some of the clans that called Skye home claim Viking heritage, attested to by a winter fire festival at Dunvegan that continues today.
With incredible landscapes like the one in this panorama photo, one understands why Skye has such a long history of human occupation. This is the Quiraing, the most dramatic landscapes on the island. The landscape is formed from large sections of land faulting and slipping away from each other at different rates. The process continues today at such a pace that the small road that leads up to this vantage point has to be repaired every year because of the slippage damaging it. The land here really spoke to me. It was amazing and unforgettable. So much so that when I saw a short preview for Stardust, the movie adapted from a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, I knew instantly that parts of that movie were filmed here. Even without this fact, a great story, but the crew who picked this location did well. You can easily imagine a fantasy adventure unfolding on the land pictured here, can’t you?
The photo above is another view of the Quiraing, part of the Trotternish ridge. In this picture, you get a real feel for the size of this place. The tiny figures in this image are actually my Haggis tour group wandering down to the edges for closer looks at the dramatic drops in this place. The area is well traveled with foot paths but if a fog rolls in can become deadly quickly if one is unfamiliar with the land. Still, I’m sure it’s the walk of a lifetime on this beautiful island. I have a great desire to make it back to Skye some day with time to kill and wander this incredible landscape with my camera.
This dramatic landscape is a photo from near the coast of Skye looking towards the Trotternish ridge. This picture was actually taken before we made our way over to the Quiraing. So, you can see how easy it is that the tops of those hills could be socked in with clouds and fog! We were lucky to have such clear views by the time we got over there later in the afternoon. The vistas on this island are just incredible, truly a landscape photographer’s paradise if ever I saw one.
One last photo from Skye, and I think this is my favorite. This picture shows a little stream near Sligachan, a tiny village on Skye. This was actually our first stop of the morning. The mountain range in the background of this photo would be the Cuillin mountains. You can see a tiny house in the upper left beneath the gloaming sky (that’s the sunrise reflecting off those low clouds). The single house is a reminder of how few people live on Skye today. Before the Highland clearances, the population numbered near 30,000 people. When the land became more important for sheep production that people, the clearances took place and people who had historically called this land home were banished by the lords. This happened in the mid 19th century and the effects are still evident today. The population of Skye today is roughly 9,000 people, and this reflects a recent population increase! Hard to imagine a land so beautiful so bereft of people, but that describes much of the Highlands of Scotland.
If you enjoyed these photos, there are more from Britain and Skye in my Prints Gallery – hope you’ll take a look! And I’d love to hear if you’ve been to Skye or are inspired to go by these photos.