#290 – Neist Point on the Duirinish Peninsula, Western Skye

Neist Point, the most westerly point on Skye

(For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in, then use your browser return arrow to go back – go on, it really does work!)

Neist Point location (red flag) in relation to Northern Scotland

Neist Point is one of the most photographed locations on Skye, mostly because of the spectacular sunsets to the west, over the islands of the Outer Hebrides and the Little Minch, the sea strait that lies between Skye and the Outer Isles.    ‘Most photographed’ means one thing in particular though – lots of people!

Neist Point with Skye and the Outer Hebrides

Over the past decade, the Skye tourist industry has done a remarkable job of ‘selling’ the island to visitors travelling from the rest of the UK, Europe and beyond, but has failed spectacularly in providing simple facilities such as car parking space or toilets.    The result is often overcrowding, especially in the summer months.

Neist Point and part of the Duirinish Peninsula

The answer is simple,  go off-season before the rush, but that concept is becoming steadily more challenging.   I guessed that late September should be a reasonably quiet time to visit, but that depends on your idea of quiet!    It was bearable, but I wouldn’t like to see it in high summer – come to think of it, in high summer it’s unlikely that you would even be able to get down the road to Neist Point.

Early evening sun on the cliffs of Moonen Bay

A popular spot! It looks like others have had the same idea

We arrived at Neist just as the light was turning golden, and it looked as though a spectacular sunset was going to be on the menu.    We found a level spot to park the van, so that was us set up for the night – travelling by camper has many advantages, including our own on-board facilities, so after our evening meal and a couple of scoops of ‘red’, we were ready for the light show.

Sunset approaching over the small hill of An t-Aigeach

Closer view of An t-Aigeach – note the tiny figures watching the sunset from the summit

More sunset watchers near the car park

An t-Aigeach still popular as the light fades

Ah yes, the light show – whilst we were eating, a thin layer of cloud had crept across the sky, so it looked as though a spectacular sunset was off for tonight.  No problem really, especially for photographs – the light was still interesting, as was the people-watching potential.

The sun setting over the Outer Hebrides ….

…. as the moon rises over Moonen Bay

A sole observer of the moonrise

The sun finally sets ….

…. but the moon gets brighter (The tiny light on the horizon to the right of the photo is a ship)

The crowds were spread out along the cliff tops near the car park, along with another sizable group on the small summit of An t-Aigeach, all 95 metres (312 ft) of it.   In the meantime, a second light show was starting up, as the moon rose over Moonen Bay to the south.   All in all, it had been worth the trip, and I’ll be back – apparently, the wildlife spotting potential is huge, and includes dolphins, whales and sea birds.

An t-Aigeach and Neist Point the next day on a dull morning

The path leading down to the lighthouse

Neist Point Lighthouse ….

…. with The Little Minch and the Outer Hebrides beyond

The skies were still on the dull side next morning, but that’s no problem to a Border Collie who is ready for a good walk, so ‘Mist’ took Chris and me on a stroll along the sea cliffs to the north.   It turned out to be a muddy excursion, so we turned back after a couple of kilometres and went down to take a look at the lighthouse at the tip of Neist Point.

Closer view of the lighthouse

The lighthouse was built in 1909 and was fully automated in 1990.   In recent times it was also used as holiday accommodation but is now abandoned and slowly becoming more derelict in appearance.   A more recent addition to the Point is a ‘stone balancing’ collection – it’s easy to see why people feel compelled to add another stone pile, but I sometimes wonder who started the first one.    It won’t be the locals – apparently, they are not at all keen on the little rock towers.

The inevitable collection of balanced stones

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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5 Responses to #290 – Neist Point on the Duirinish Peninsula, Western Skye

  1. Enjoyed reading about your experience at Neist Point Paul – if it wasn’t so popular with tourists and other photographers this would be a picture perfect spot for a romantic proposal or elopement, right?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Babs – yeah, it would be perfect if it wasn’t for the crowds! You could try at either end of the season (May or late September) and the later it gets in the day (or first thing in the morning before peeps turn up), the more chance you have of finding an empty bit of scenery. It’s a helluva long drive down narrow roads though. I’ll have a think about other locations.
      Oh, and Happy Birthday 🙂

      Like

  2. So beautiful! We have issues with the rock towers (we call them cairns) here too…they originally served a purpose and were used to mark trails, but many people build them randomly like in your photo. It’s generally considered vandalism to create them if you are not a trail worker, but many people don’t know or care it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Chelsea, yeah we also call the stones cairns when they are used as trail markers, and likewise building new (unnecessary) cairns is considered as vandalism – some hikers over here make it their life mission to destroy the extras when possible. The stones at Neist were more like a garden of stone towers – I don’t get why folk want to build them but if that’s what floats their boat……

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m afraid we added to the stone piles as we built a rock bunny! I put a photo of it in my Neist Point post. As the stones are lying around there haphazardly, I don’t think it does any harm to rearrange them slightly into interesting things myself.

    We went to the lighthouse over the hill in your photos – it seemed daft to miss out the summit. Didn’t know the lighthouse wasn’t used for holiday accommodation any more though – think it was maybe 5 years ago?

    There was a tearoom on the way down the road to the point before the carparks – probably a couple of miles before the road-end. They’ll remember me there forever for buying and eating 3 large pieces of bilberry pie! They were looking at me strangely when I went to pay and I just thought it was them not being used to my piggery. But no… when I got back in the car, I caught sight of myself while driving… my teeth and mouth were completely black – my teeth were so bad they were dyed right through with blackness – it looked awful!

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