The Quiraing – Isle of Skye, Scotland - Atlas Obscura
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Isle of Skye, Scotland

The Quiraing

Islanders once used this dramatic, otherworldly landscape to hide their cattle from Viking raiders. 

This is the kind of place that leaves you breathless, and not just because you have to trek uphill. The craggy landscape looks like something from a magical realm. Its ridges roll toward the sky like great green waves and little lakes nestled at their feet darken and seem to dance beneath the passing clouds.

Though it looks like a serene scene straight from a dream, the Quiraing was formed by terrestrial turmoil. It’s one of Britain’s largest landslips, and was created due to strain within its underlying layers of rock.

It’s part of the Trotternish landslip, which also created the equally beautiful Old Man of Storr. But unlike at the Storr, the earth at the Quiraing isn’t done wriggling around just yet—the road at its base has to be repaired yearly because the land still shifts a few centimeters each year.

But as inconvenient (and costly) as the constant road repairs may be, there’s no denying the constant movement has created an utterly amazing landscape. Jagged cliffs, towering rock pinnacles, and various dips and valleys create a rich tapestry of textures, forming a vivid feast for the eyes.

Trails wind through the geological wonder, letting you wander among its many rock formations. The views are spectacular from any angle. As such, it’s no wonder people have been drawn to the land for thousands of years. Its name comes from a Norse saying for “Round Fold;” a nod to the Isle of Skye’s Viking history. It’s been said the islanders used to hide their cattle from Viking raiders within the Quiraing’s many nooks and crannies.

Know Before You Go

The Quiraing gets pretty busy, especially during peak tourist season (summer). But if you get there early in the morning, you'll be able to enjoy its beauty almost by yourself without having to trudge behind throngs of tourists. The trails can be steep at times and get slippery when wet, so wear sturdy hiking shoes and be sure you stick to the proper paths.

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