The Isle of Skye's Rocky Past

Updated: Mar 8

Crossing the bridge over to the Isle of Skye, it takes but a moment to realise this magnificent isle is steeped in history: both cultural and geological. Skye’s geology - home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in the UK - is the product of millions of years of geological processes. Our researcher, Sophie Ranson, digs a little deeper into its story...


Rewind to the early Tertiary age nearly 60 million years ago: grand volcanoes across the North Atlantic region spewed out molten rock, leaving behind impressive igneous formations. Collectively, this area is now known as the North Atlantic Igneous Province. Some of the most extensive examples of this volcanic activity can be found on (you guessed it!) the Isle of Skye. Dykes, for example, are near-vertical bodies of once-molten rock and are plentiful across the Isle.


Volcanic activity helped form the infamous jagged peaks of Skye’s Cuillin Hills. Composed of primarily gabbro, an iron- and magnesium-rich rock, the Cuillins are pillars of history (quite literally!): representing some of the earliest phases of magma generation all those millions of years ago. Take a trip down to the Fairy Pools, for example, and you’ll find more than just folk lore; some of the Isle’s oldest gabbros are located here.


But igneous rock isn’t the only rock type, with metamorphic and sedimentary occurring too. Gneiss, a metamorphic rock, is one of the oldest rock types found in the region. Dating back a staggering 2,800 million years, long before humans started roaming about the earth - predating multicellular life even!


Luckily for us, these processes have created some of the most iconic landscapes in the world. Best viewed on a SKYEFARI adventure, it’s time to add these captivating formations to your bucket list:


The Quiriang - Isle of Skye. Image by Slamtilt from Pixabay

Quiraing

Make sure to visit this world-famous beauty spot during your visit to Skye. Located on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, take a trip up to the north of the isle to complete this 4 mile hill circuit.

  • 4 miles

  • 3-4 hours

Neist Point and lighthouse - Isle of Skye. Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay

Neist Point

Skye’s most westerly handland offers spectacular views towards the Outer Hebrides and beyond. You might even spot a Minke Whale in the Summer months, if you’re lucky!

  • 1.75 miles

  • 1-2 hours

The old Man of Storr - Isle of Skye. Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay

The Old Man of Storr

An iconic landmark, the Old Man of Storr is a hill located on the isle's Trotternish peninsula. Once at the top, the views overlooking the Sound of Raasay and Scotland's mainland are breathtaking.

  • 2.75 miles

  • 1.75 - 2 hours

Kilt Rock - Isle of Skye. Image by Paul Sharman Outdoors.

Kilt Rock

Talk about impressive geology! Located on the Trotternish Peninsula, Kilt Rock make the grand Mealt Falls even more impressive -- plummeting a staggering 55 metres, right into the Sound of Raasay. It is also a recognised whale watching location - see the link below!

Sources Please check out these links for further detailed reading;-

  1. https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Policy-and-Media/Outreach/Plate-Tectonic-Stories/Isle-of-Skye

  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_the_Isle_of_Skye#:~:text=by%20Palaeocene%20lavas.-,Paleogene,a%20stepped%20trap%20type%20landscape.

  3. https://www.scottishgeology.com/best-places/cuillin-hills-skye/


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