One of my favourite places in the UK is the Isle of Skye, a magical island off the west coast of Scotland.
There are a lot of amazing places to visit on Skye but one location in particular makes me just want to huddle into the shelter provided by an overhanging rock and just watch the environment do what it does best in Scotland – change.
Neist Point is at the far western tip of Skye. The lighthouse there oversees the choppy waters between the Inner and Outer Hebrides, warning shipping away from the rocks that form the point. On any one day you could visit Neist Point and experience completely different weather within two-hours.
Many times I’ve arrived at the car park on the cliffs about half a mile from the lighthouse and admired the sun as it turns the grass and heather the golden colour of a deep fried chicken drumstick, only to get to the lighthouse and find myself battling against strong winds and horizontal rain. The sky turns from calm blue to furious black in a matter of minutes and the horizon changes from a nice straight line to a jagged curtain of rain. The rocks beyond the lighthouse change from the ultimate rock-jumping playground, with helpful textures and dry surfaces, to treacherous death-traps of drizzle-awakened slime. Cliffs across the water to the south change their expressions from austere and forbidding to playful soon after the rain passes – rainbows wreathe them and waterfalls spout from every dip.
The character of the place alters in moments and that is why it’s worth a long visit.
The geology of the area leads to the surface separating into blocks perfect for climbing on or probing the rock pools refilled by the turbulent sea. The remnants of old dock facilities lie on the south side of the lighthouse, rusting majestically and full of the most vivid colours to match the rainbows overhead.
You can see cormorants plunging around the area, and I’ve seen jellyfish bobbing along, but I’ve also heard that seals and whales have been seen from there. Which is no surprise at all. With sea eagles resident on Skye perhaps they pass by Neist as well? I’m not lucky enough to have seen one of those yet, but I’m definitely going to visit this place again and again.