Isle of Skye and the world's most beautiful landslides

In the north of the Isle of Skye in Scotland, on a peninsula called Trotternish, the largest landslides in the British Isles occurred. The result was a landscape of majestic beauty that is hard to beat.

"Quiraing" and "The Old Man of Storr"

In the north of the Isle of Skye in Scotland, on a peninsula called Trotternish, the largest landslides in the British Isles occurred. This formed a landscape of majestic beauty that is hard to beat. The two most famous of the many landslides that occurred on the Trotternish escarpment are probably the Storr and the Quiraing. The Old Man of Storr is the most photographed rock formation in the southern part of the peninsula because of its prominent spire, which can be seen from a distance, but the Quiraing in the northern part is probably the more impressive landslide. At 2km wide and covering a total area of 8.5kmĀ², the Quiraing stretches from the escarpment to the sea.

The closest place is Staffin, from where you can already admire the spectacular landscape of the Quiraing. The view, however, is not comparable to the one you get up close. The road up is steep and arduous and may even give one or two people a fright. The landslides are already visible along the road. If you look a little closer, you can see that the Quiraing is far from being at rest.

The history of the Trotternish landslides begins in the Jurassic period about 175 million years ago. The Isle of Skye was not an island at that time, but submerged in the sea. There, in the depths of the sea, sediment, sand, shale, limestone and many other materials from the sea were accumulated, which after millions of years formed into a hard sedimentary rock. When the sea finally retreated 60 million years ago, exposing the Isle of Skye, many more tremendous processes took place on Earth. Due to the extreme stress on the Earth's surface, the land mass split and pushed out molten rock. As a result, the ancient Jurassic rocks were covered with a huge lava field. A total of 24 different lava flows have been recorded on the Trotternish Peninsula, some of which are only a few metres thick, but others are up to 30 metres thick - as thick as the Eiffel Tower is tall!

Volcanic activity continued for 10 million years. The continuing movement of the earth eventually caused the Trotternish mountain range to tilt to the east, causing the volcanic rock to slip. The weaker sedimentary rock, which until then had been covered by the volcanic rock, gave way under the enormous weight and collapsed. Since then, gravity has been pulling the massive rock towards the sea. The first Quiraing landslides can be traced back to the most recent ice age and mainly affected the lower reaches. Long after the ice on Skye melted, some of the upper parts also collapsed about 15,000 years ago. To this day, the Quiraing is considered active - but don't worry, the movement is mainly recorded on the coast. In contrast, the fascinating landscape further up is demonstrably stable.

The stunning rock formations of the 23km-long Trotternish escarpment date from around 13,000 to 5,000 years ago. The Storr, where the rock needle 'Old Man of Storr' rises upright, is about 720 metres high. However, the entire length features many different landslides and fascinating rock formations.

The Quiraing, on the other hand, has countless towering pinnacles and unique rock needles at every uphill and downhill turn. One of the most famous rock formations is a towering rock that resembles a prison. It was given the name 'Prison' and guards the 'entrance' to other exciting formations. These include the 37m high needle 'The Needle' and a gigantic rock with an incredibly flat, almost perfectly rectangular grass surface - almost like a man-made football pitch. As in South Africa's Cape Town, this rock has also been christened 'The Table'. Despite its size, 'The Table' is not so easy to find, as it lies behind a high embankment. It is said that the inhabitants hid their cattle up there from the Vikings.

The Quiraing is indeed a bizarre place where some people can easily let their imagination run wild. A visit to the Quiraing is a particularly atmospheric experience when the mist hangs low over the hills. Under such conditions, the rock formations rise unexpectedly and menacingly out of the darkness - almost like Mordor in the third part of The Lord of the Rings.