When it comes to land formations, Skye is without doubt the most spectacular island I’ve ever visited: the Cuillins, the sheer cliffs, the uncompromising magic of the endless moorland and wild coastline. But two geological sites raise Skye from the remarkable to the surreal, and these are called the Quiraing and the Storr.
The Quiraing. Don’t take a caravan on this road!
The Quiraing is situated in the north, almost at the end of the Trotternish peninsula; if you approach it from the minor road that winds over the moorland from Uig, you come upon it almost by surprise, and it takes your breath away. People have described it as other-worldly, supernatural, awesome. It is all of those!
A geologist will tell you that the Quiraing is the largest example of a landslip in Britain – albeit a very ancient one. Some of the land around it is still moving, which must create a few headaches for the local road builders. The whole area consists of lava flows on top of sedimentary rock; climbers have named some elements ‘The Needle’, ‘The Table’ and ‘The Prison’ (the last feature apparently looks like a castle keep from some angles).
The Quiraing, with the coastline just visible in the distance
Bioda Buidhe (just to the south)
Trotternish ridge, with the Storr out of sight to the left
Moving a bit further south towards Portree, you’ll come across the Storr, another looming mass of rock, in front of which stands the solitary pillar known as The Old Man of Storr.
The Storr can be both mysterious and menacing, especially when it is partly veiled in low cloud. Apparently, scenes from the film ‘Prometheus’ were filmed here; I’m guessing they didn’t need to do much PhotoShopping. And yes, some people have scaled the pinnacle: one report, from an experienced climber, admitted that it was ‘not for the faint hearted’. But the Storr is a rich source of rare minerals in crystal form, and you know how much I love crystals. Shall I take up rock climbing?
All photos copyright © Colin Woolf