Neist Point Lighthouse is located in Duirinish, the island’s most western protrusion. Its photogenic setting on a narrow headland makes it one of Europe’s most captured lighthouses. It played a part in the film Breaking the Waves, for which director Von Trier used plastic gravestones to create a non-existing churchyard.
Mountains are wild places; indisputable elements of nature, for all to enjoy and for no one to own. Right? The 29th McLeod chief thought otherwise. When he found himself strapped for cash and with the clan’s seat, Dunvegan Castle*, eternally in disrepair, he decided to sell the mountains of Skye. Sell the soul of the island to the highest bidder! People laughed at his foolishness, because they knew the Cuillin weren’t his to sell. But John McLeod produced some deed documents from 1611 and decided he wanted to pocket £10 million pounds for them. Decried by islanders, environmentalists and MSPs, McLeod said he didn’t understand the fuss; it wasn’t as if he was going off to a tropical island, sipping cocktails. He would use the money wisely to conserve Dunvegan. He told the newspapers the castle was as leaky as a sieve and that guests needed umbrellas at the dining table.
A small monument beside the road reminds of a group of local heroes and their leader John MacPherson. In 1882 they stood up against their big landowner due to grazing disputes on Waterstein Farm. Their persistent resistance and occupation of the land landed them in prison. But their case was investigated and reached parliament all the way in London, a world apart, resulting in land reform. Glendale became a community owned estate and still is. The crofters are the freeholders of the land on which they live and work. The actions of these 19th century crofters caused a domino effect throughout the Scottish Highlands and Islands, eventually resulting in the historical Crofters Act.
Lachlan Cattanach was the eleventh Chief of the MacLeans. He was a fiery man, big in built and big in ego. His clan was his identity and he wanted to make it stronger than all other ten chiefs of his family before him. When he looked out from his castle on the outcrop across the sound, he imagined what it would be like to own all the sea and all the land he could see or even imagine. After many a sleepless night, and solely to make his MacLean clan even more dominant, it was arranged that he would marry a Campbell, a daughter of the sworn enemy!
If you stand on the pier, the row of radiant houses in your back, you look out across Tobermory Bay. It faces the sun from the south and if you’re lucky you may spot otters, seals, porpoises and dolphins. There are persistent rumours that a Spanish galleon is at the bottom of the bay, but no treasure was ever found. However, the way the water shimmers white gold, you can very well imagine there is something precious beckoning from the seabed.