Neist Lighthouse, Skye
Posted on : 09/08/2012
The lighthouse at Neist Point stands on the western most tip of Skye with fantastic views over the sea to the Outer Hebrides and beyond. The lighthouse has stood since 1909 and has guided ships through the Minch which is a relatively narrow gap with some strong tides and nasty rocks. The lighthouse is 62 feet high but standing on the cliffs results in a total height of 142 feet above sea level and with the equivalent of 480,000 candles of power, the light is visible for about 24 miles. As is the norm these days, the light was automated in 1990 and the keepers cottages are now in private ownership.
The surrounding scenery is spectacular with large cliffs and rock formations plunging down to the sea and shore line. The rocks (Basalt) have been compared to the Giants Causeway in Ireland and on reflection there are many similarities. Its a fairly long trek by car along the narrow tracks and roads that run from Portree via Dunvegan to these wind beaten shores but plenty to see on the way. The area is covered with a very liberal scattering of crofts and dwellings which can be picked out at some distance as most are painted white. The local population multi-task with interests in sheep and cattle farming, fishing and tourism.
Once down the tracks and byeways, you arrive at the narrow car park against the sea in the background. Gaze at the cliff in front and then start to make your way down the narrow and steep path to the bottom. The path is well constructed from concrete with handrails but the walk back up does take your breath away unless you frequent Gyms on a daily basis or were some kind of fell runner. The lighthouse isn’t actually visible at this point but follow the grassy path and stop to peer over the edge at the nesting sea birds that gather on, and under the cliffs. To the south and east you will see a spectacular coast line of cliffs and bays unfold with mountains in the distance and this view improves as you climb the gentler hill and then round to see the lighthouse below. The path will clearly take you down and onto a level plateau where you can explore. Take a stroll past the lighthouse and we found a rocky pavement with a large collection of Cairns that visitors had constructed. Leave your mark. With fishing rod in hand, you can climb down the rocks to the waters edge where the fishing appears good. With a lure, we landed two sizeable pollock and we saw others landing mackerel. Local information suggests that there are fourteen different varieties of fish. Choose your place carefully, as whilst there is obviously a lot of deep water within casting distance, we lost some tackle on the underlying rocks so reel your line in quickly when close to shore.
The wide open space and clear views mean that this is one of the best places to see whales, dolphins, porpoises, and basking sharks. A good set of binoculars, sandwiches and a bit of patience would also be required although that aside, this is one of those places that you need to visit if you are in the area. Enjoy.....
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