Scotland Adventure: Day Three / Part 2

Our assent on The Storr was a wonderful beginning for our first full day on the Isle of Skye, however that was only the start of a full filled day of adventures.  

Map of Northern Skye and our adventure

Once back in our car we continued north on the road with some beautiful landscapes to enjoy.  We had lush green fields to the left and a mouth-dropping seascape to the right.  It was a gorgeous day for a drive with the sun shining and whiffs of clouds dancing across the sky.  Our next stop would be the Lealt Falls.  Part of the Abhainn An Lethuillit (stream) that feeds into the ocean.  Yet as beautiful as the falls and the landscape were, there was a window into the past of Skye just at the mouth of the stream. There we saw the ruins of an old diatomite drying shed.  

Diatomite is a whitish, clay-like substance made up of microscopic shells or diatoms.  There are large deposits in the area, locally known as Cailc.  It was discovered around 1886 and has a wide range of industrial uses including; insulation for ships boilers, filtration for beer and in the production of paints and polishes.  Yet it was also used in the manufacturing of dynamite.  In 1899 the Skye Diatomite Company was founded and diatomite was extracted and transported by railroad to the ruins of the drying shed we saw below us. From here the diatomite was prepared and then shipped to customers as for as South Africa.  

I was also able to indulge in a little Canadian fun by creating an Inuksuk that I placed on top of the cliff.  With the mountains, green landscape and ocean near by it seemed like the perfect place to leave a little reminder that I was there.  

We continued north towards another natural formation on Skye, Creag an Fhèilidh or Kilt Rock.  Around 61 – 55 million years ago, massive volcanic activity was taking place all along the coast of Scotland.  During this period the Cuillin mountains were formed and the northern half of Skye was covered in a series of layers of molten rock about 1,200 meters thick. The pillars of rock were formed around this time as molten rock forced its way between the layers of Jurassic sandstone rock.  This is what gives kilt rock its pleats.  

These massive cliffs stretch on for kilometers and are an unforgettable landmark to anyone who’s sees them.  In fact this area is know as Staffin which comes from the old Norse word stafrfor pillars.  In the 10thcentury sea-faring people from Scandinavia settled in the area and kilt rock would have been a memorable landmark for any sea-going people.  Even today, Kilt rock, with its massive pillars, high cliffs and gorgeous waters falls that dot the landscape, is truly an unforgettable sight to behold.  

Ailish Sinclair

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