Skye (probably from the Norse 'wing-shaped'; Gaelic 'An t-Eilean Sgitheanach' - the 'island of cloud or mist'). The Isle of Skye is the second largest island in the Hebrides with only Lewis and Harris being larger. Skye is approcimately 60 miles long and up to 25 miles wide, covering an area of approximately 535 square miles. Skye is famous for many things one of which being The Cuillin Hills which dominate much of the island. There are twelve Munros in the range including Sgur Alasdair ('Alexander's peak', 3300 feet), Sgur a Greadhaich ('peak of torment', 3211 feet), Sgu nan Gillean ('the lad's peak', 3167 feet) and Bruach na Gillean ('brae of the forest', 3143 feet).
Sleat (pronounced 'Slate'), to the south of the island and known as the garden of Skye, is very green, fertile and lush; while Trotternish, to the north, is rougher, with hills rising to 2500 feet, and has several unusual geologic formations, including the Old Man of Storr, a 160-feet-high pinnacle, and a series of pinnacles and crags at Storr rising to 2360 feet; and the Quirang, dominated by the structures of The Needle, The Prison and The Table. The island has a number of habitats and a large range of plants and wildlife. Glenbrittle is particularly picturesque, and the cliffs at Waterstein rise over 950 feet straight out of the sea.
The population of Skye was 20,627 in 1821, but now is much smaller. Emigration from the island in the 19th century (not all of it forced by landlords) resulted in a drastic reduction in the population, following years of famine and the failure of the kelp industry.
Skye (click image to go to the Cuillins of Skye Gallery) was occupied from prehistoric times, and there is a fine range of monuments including numerous standing stones and burials cairns, including that at Rubh a' Dunain. The island has many brochs, duns and hill forts, some of them particularly well preserved, such as Dun Beag and Dun Ardtreck. St Columba is said to have visited the island in the 6th century, and Skye also has associations with St Maelrubha and St Moluag, early Christian missionaries.
The island was held by the Vikings from the 9th century, but after Norwegian defeat at the battle of Largs in 1263, the island became more and more under the influence of the kings of Scots. The island was held by the MacLeods, MacDonalds and MacKinnons. The MacLeods were based at Dunvegan to the north of the island, while the MacDonalds held Sleat and later Trotternish, and the MacKinnons were based at Dun Ringill and Caisteal Maol, holding the east of the island as well as Scalpay. Bonnie Prince Charlie was sheltered on Skye in 1746 after the disaster at the battle of Culloden.
To help you during your visit we have a litle map of the island which shows the main roads, peaks, archaeological and historical sites and other information you may find useful. To view the map just click on the image to your left and it will open in a new window, save it and view using an image viewing program for best effect - please allow time for the image to load.
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