Scotland Day 10 part 2: Isle of Skye

During the afternoon in the remote, northernmost areas of Isle of Skye we drove on single-track roads. The untamed landscapes of green hills, streams, rock formations, sea and sky were gorgeous. Here are a few photos of this area.

Here we saw a dog earning his living herding sheep. This is the first time I'd seen this done in real life (not for show.) Very cool. I learned that the blackfaced sheep were the original ones traditionally raised by Highlanders. Isn't this one cute?!

The ruin of Duntulm Castle (below) sits on the north coast of Skye. We stopped closeby but we only made it about halfway there. It was still raining and windy from the gale that passed through earlier and it was a somewhat long trek through a sheep pasture.The ruin is not managed, no fee, no one working there. It's just sitting out there on a cliff overlooking The Minch (part of the Atlantic that passes between Skye and the Outer Hebrides. The view of the Isle of Lewis is stunning from here. (See last photo.)

There are many beautiful views from this one point.

Duntulm means the fort on the green grassy headland. During the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, this was the principal seat of the Chiefs of Clan Donald North, otherwise known as Clan Uisdean, from its progenitor Uisdean, or Hugh, a son of Alexander, third Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross; and as the MacDonalds of Sleat, from their first settlement in that part of the island, their seat then being the Castle of Dunscaith. The MacDonalds lived here until 1730.
This site was originally home to an iron age broch that Norsemen (Vikings) used during their forays down the coast. Later, during the 14th and 15th centuries, the Macleods built a stone castle, but the current ruins date from the seventeenth century. The earliest mention of Duntulm is in 1549 when Sir Donald Monro, Dean of the Isles described it as "the castell Donntwyline perteining to Donald Gromesone," (i.e. Donald Gormeson, 6th of Sleat). Much of the stone and other materials were removed between 1732 and 1736 to be used in the building of Sir Alexander MacDonald's new house at Monkstadt, some five miles away. The castle and site are supposedly haunted. People have reported seeing the spirit of Donald Gorm fighting with other ghosts in the courtyard. Hugh MacDonald haunts the dungeon where he was imprisoned and starved (or thirsted) to death, along with several others including two female ghosts. It is said the MacDonalds left the castle because they couldn't tolerate the ghosts.

A famous quote from Alexander Smith (1865) from "A Summer in Skye" captures the place perfectly: "Through the window I beheld the spectral castle, the sea upon which the light was dying…and seated here in the remotest corner of Skye…girt by walls of cliffs and the sounding sea…I confess to have been conscious of a pleasant feeling of strangeness, of removal from all customary conditions of thought and locality, which I like at times to recall and enjoy over again."

Here you can learn lots more history of Duntulm.


Liz Falkner said...

Beautiful photos, Vonda!! Thanks for sharing them and your detailed explanations.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks for visiting, Liz!! I'm so glad you like them.

Anonymous said...

Hello, we (Gisela + Harald) spent 6 days in this part and we had many impressions there - Duntulm and Quiraing, Floddigarry Island and a lot of seals during a boat trip
and we were in Staffin in a wonderful b&b

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Harald! I would love to see some seals! I kept looking during my trip, but didn't see any. It's an incredibly beautiful area.

Alan B said...

Have you visited Castle Sinclair Girnigoe up by Wick, its the home of the Sinclairs :)

Vonda Sinclair said...

Alan, I haven't visited Castle Sinclair Girnigoe. I hope to one day soon. Thank you for the video! It is such a beautiful place! I have been through Wick very briefly on a tour with a stop at John O'Groats and we stayed for two nights in Thurso. I love the north coast even though the weather can be extreme at times.

Alan B said...

If you do go to Girnigoe, stay at my favourite B&B - the Impala (, run by Alan and Lynne, they really nice people and If you're nice, Alan will take you to see the Castle :)