The Isle of Skye – It’s a great place to go mapping!

During the summer holidays, between 3rd and 4th year, it was expected that all Edinburgh University Geology students pack up their back-packs and geo-picks and go forth to map.  Using some sort of buddy-buddy system, we paired up and decided on where to go.

Some picked more exotic locations, like Turkey. Most of us, though, picked a location within the UK. Skint students are naturally pragmatic that way.  Although we could choose our destinations, guidance was provided from a geological perspective.  There was little point in mapping an area that was deemed “too simple”.  It doesn’t help the grades and this was, after all, our final year thesis in the making.

My mapping partner and I plumped for an area on the Isle of Skye, south-west of Broadford between Loch Eishort and Loch Slapin.  We found accommodation in the form of a little stone building, on the water’s edge, in Lower Breakish.  It was very simple – 2 rooms with bunk-beds in, which we shared with a couple of other geologists from a different university.  Skye is a very popular area for mapping projects, it would seem.. We found at least 20 other geos lurking in the hills during our stay there!

My summer hang-out - click on map to magnify

Most of my photos are, therefore, based around this area, although we did take a day off from mapping to scoot around the rest of the island.  I won’t lie, we took more than one day off from mapping, mostly due to the weather.  The only problem being that there was little other scenery to see when the rain was “tipping down”.  So we stayed put in our rented bunks and read an awful lot of Terry Pratchett novels that happened to be on the shelves.

Views across Loch Slapin to the Black Cuillins

The Red & Black Cuillins

I did take one other book with me.  It was written by Sir Archibald Giekie (aka Geekie), an eminent geologist in the second half of the 19th Century.  I can’t remember the exact title of the book I borrowed, it could have been “The Scenery of Scotland” (1887), but more probably “An Elementary Geography of the British Isles” (1888).  His descriptive language beautifully evokes images of the past, not least the haunting tales of how the people living on Skye were forced to abandon homes, meagre possessions in tow, due to the either the potato famine or the dreadful “Highland Clearances”.

Calm seas at Loch Eishort

There were days where the weather was so still, that wisps of mist would trail past you as you worked.  If you stopped hammering the rocks for a moment, you could almost fancy hearing whispers from the past. Eerie..  I like that about Scotland. You can feel the history.

"Old Man" Tree at Cill Chroisd

Waterfall near the Blavin Trail

Boats at Lower Breakish

Waterfall at Kilt Rock

Up-stream from Kilt Rock

Up north - in the clouds

A double rainbow lighting up brooding skies

Isle of Skye, Scotland – June to July, 1994

Info: Pentax P30T.  Negatives scanned in with CanoScan 8800F – cleaned up in Photoshop v5

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6 thoughts on “The Isle of Skye – It’s a great place to go mapping!

    1. So – you’ll understand my longing to return home then! I’ve just shipped some stuff over, all that remains is for me to sort things out in South Africa before I can personally ship myself over there 🙂 – I’m super excited about it!

  1. Oh, I just love these photographs – the illuminated boat is wonderful and the Old Man tree is really intriguing. It looks like a very beautiful place indeed – somewhere I need to visit in the not-too-distant future.

    1. I have been back since then, and hope to post some beautiful sunrises as witnessed at Portree. I love Skye 🙂 My mum is actually on her way there today for a week-long hiking trip. Hope the weather holds out for her 🙂 I’ve told her to get loads of photos!

  2. I’ve mapped part of this area, too — second year Easter trip for me. Very beautiful views from the hilltops out towards the islands. And my boots have just about dried out from all those peat bogs.

    1. It is quite a popular spot for undergrad mapping projects of one sort or another isn’t it? I’d be quite surprised to hear if an UK geo had not been to Skye!

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