Epic Skye Exploring scotland's isle of skye

There is only one word to describe the Isle of Skye: EPIC!

Searching for epic skies or landscapes? TheĀ Isle of Skye is where you will find them, and this past January, I embarked on my own epic road trip to explore the Isle of Skye and experience for myself the rich history and rugged countryside.

The stark beauty of Scotland raced to greet me even before I reached the Isle of Skye. Here an empty, icy road leads to the backside of the Nevis Range Mountain Resort.
(Left) Painted steps in Fort William; (Right) Eilean Donan Castle

Scotland has other charms, as well, such as modern artistic expression in the Fort Williams town centre, and the 13th century highlands castle Eilean Donan--a key landmark before one crosses the Skye bridge which links Scotland with the largest island of the inner Hebrides archipelago. It doesn't take long before the word "epic" is the only word you can think of to describe the scenes nature has placed before you!

A narrow, single lane road crosses through the Totternish Ridge--one of the highest ranges on the Isle--to reach the Quiraing.
Foreboding clouds cast dark shadows on Quiraing Prison, a collection of rocky pinnacles, high cliffs, and steppe plateaus.
High plateaus tower over rugged wilderness on the northeastern edge of the Isle of Skye.
The setting sun peeks through storm clouds briefly illuminating the rocky countryside.

But, one must not get awestruck or lost in the beauty of the expanse. Storms approach quickly and from multiple fronts. Below, a snow storm from the west creeps over Old Man Storr merging with a snow storm from the east. The resulting white-out conditions make the return hike much more difficult despite the trail. The Scottish government spent years clear cutting exotic forests with plans to replant the area with native Scottish pine trees.

While the landscape is majestic, the Isle of Skye has other hidden gems that include picturesque fishing villages and somber reminders of a brutal feuds between clans.

(Top) A view to Dunvegan village from across the loch; (Bottom Left) Dunvegan Castle of the MacLeod Clan; (Bottom Center) Trumpan church ruins and cemetery, site of the MacDonald Clan massacre of church-goers loyal to the MacLeod Clan; (Bottom Right) Moss threatens to overtake a wooden bench at the Trumpan ruins.

This far north the winter sun rises late and sets early.

A late-morning sunrise (10.30am) peeks through the storm clouds.
The winter sun sets early in the northern latitudes leaving sheep and cattleman with a short grazing day.
A half moon rises over rocky cliffs after sunset.

In addition to spectacular landscapes and quaint villages, the Isle of Skye offers up breathtaking views of the sea and jagged cliffs.

( Top Left) Salty water collects in pools in a rocky outcrop with the cliffs of Dunvegan head and waterfall overshadowed by storm clouds; (Top Right) A lone climber stands a top the cliffs that hide Neist Point lighthouse, hidden away on the ocean side of the pinnacle; (Bottom Left) Dunvegan head from Trumpan ruins; (Bottom Right) One of the many waterfalls dotting the Isle of Skye's stark landscape
A rocky beach-head formed by millennia of tidal forces.

Wildlife on the Isle of Skye revolves around the ocean with otters, seals, and whales, and sea eagles, gannets, and puffins. Red Deer (the largest mammal in the U.K.) and other smaller mammals are also found on Skye, but for most wildlife January is not a high activity month. I did see several seal pods along Coral Beach near Dunvegan castle, but I had equally exciting chance meetings with wild goats (often found crossing major roadways), domesticated Highland cattle, and Highland ponies!

(Top Left/Top Center) Wild goats; (Top Right) Highland ("hairy") cattle; (Bottom Left) Scottish Highland ponies; (Bottom Right) A lone sheep in the Quiraing--Quiraing Prison in the background.
The Highland Pony, one of the largest of the mountain horses, is native to Scotland.

I wrapped up my exploration through the Isle of Skye with a few up-close-and-personal encounters with some of the inner-island waterways.

Ruins of Dunscaith Castle
Marshlands and Lichens
Reflections

Whether it was the epic landscape around the next bend or cresting over the next hill, or being the only audience for the momentary but stunning light show after waiting patiently for the clouds to part, I always felt I was on the edge of the wilderness on the Isle of Skye.

Cindy Eccles is an anthropologist who contributes to privately-held domestic and international white papers on ethnic minority violence and civil unrest trends. In her spare time, however, she seeks a new perspective on life from behind the lens with the goal of inspiring appreciation, tolerance, and mutual respect for all inhabitants and creations on planet Earth. You can find more of her work at her website by following the below link.

Credits:

CA Eccles, Earth-Life Photography

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