Scotland, Isle of Skye. In Scotland you can watch whales and dolphins from land. The Hebridean Whale Trail indicates the best observation points. Among them is an Orca Hotspot on the westernmost headland of the Isle of Skye - Neist Point. The steep cliffs with the photogenic lighthouse jut out far into the sea and wait with epic views - with and without orcas.
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Fantastic Cliffs and a Marzipan Figure
Neist Point, in the far west of the Isle of Skye, makes me feel very quiet for a moment. I am standing at the top of the cliffs. The wind blows around my ears. Just don't look down. Or maybe I should? Below, at the foot of the cliffs, the roaring waves break, spray splashes into the air. My knees become soft, I look straight ahead again. And I look at the most beautiful cliffs I have seen on the Isle of Skye.At the very front, at the tip of the headland, a white lighthouse is enthroned like a small marzipan figure on a cream cake.
Orca Hotspot of the Isle of Skye
Whales, dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and other marine life can be seen from the west coast of Scotland with a little luck. But in some places the chance is a bit higher than in others. The Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust has combined these places in the so-called Hebridean Whale Trail .
The Hebrides include a small group of Orcas, the so-called West Coast Community. It consists of eight individuals - four males and four females. They are seen particularly often on the northwest coast of Skye. As soon as I heard about it, I wanted to stay at Neist Point for several days. But in the end it turned out to be just an afternoon - without orcas. But still! It was a great trip with a breathtaking panorama!
If you are more lucky and see whales or dolphins, you can report your sightings to the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust to help the whale researchers.
At a glance - Neist Point on Skye
- Worth seeing headland with lighthouse at the westernmost point of the Isle of Skye
- Viewpoint and popular photo spot
- Walk to the lighthouse about 6 kilometers long with 100 meters of altitude
- View of steep cliffs and Waterstein Head (296m)
- Wildlife observation: gannets and other sea birds; with luck seals, dolphins and orcas
Walk at Neist Point - from the Viewpoint to the Lighthouse
To the Viewpoint with classic View of the Cliffs
The lighthouse on the cliffs at Neist Point is one of the most popular photo motifs on the Isle of Skye.To get to the lookout point, walk right along the cliffs just after the parking lot. Just walk until you have found your photo perspective. But be careful when taking pictures and doing selfies: the cliffs here are up to 100 meters high.
Tip: Come here at sunset. That must be fantastic. I have seen incredible photos on the internet. But unfortunately it didn't fit in our time. We took a boat trip to St. Kilda the next morning and so we preferred to spend the night near the jetty. In my separate article you can read more about the loneliest island of Britain and the largest colony of gannets in the world.
To the Lighthouse
Behind the parking lot, a staircase built into the rock leads down the hill on the left. You will pass the remains of an old cable car, which was used to supply the lighthouse.
The path leads you further and further to the headland with a view of An t-Aigeach (95 m) - the "stallion head" - which divides the headland. The cliff rises steeply and is crossed by the path at the lowest point. From here you have a great view of the cliffs at Waterstein Head (296 m), the second highest cliff on Skye.
Tip: Don't forget the midge repellent!
Behind the lighthouse you can see the big foghorn and even more rugged cliffs to explore. From here, you can also observe gannets and other sea birds especially well.
On the way back it is worth a detour to the right, where you can see a pier with an old rusted crane. This is where the supplies for the lighthouse used to be landed. After that it gets exhausting, because the way back is uphill most of the time.
The Lighthouse at Neist Point
The lighthouse at Neist Point was built by David Alan Stevenson. The Stevenson family has become famous as lighthouse builders' families, as they built lighthouses in Scotland for five generations. This is probably also the reason why many Scottish lighthouses look so similar. In 1909 it was put into operation.It is 19 meters high and has three floors. If you add the one with cliffs, the fire shines from 43 meters height the ships their way. This has been automatic since 1990 and is controlled from Edinburgh. A lighthouse keeper no longer lives here. Instead, the building was used as a bed & breakfast for a while. But that too belongs to the past. The lighthouse and its outbuildings, which has been listed under historical monuments since 1971. are not in use at the moment and seem a bit sad and deserted from close up.
How to get to Neist Point in the West of Skye?
From Dunvegan you reach Neist Point on the Single Track Road B884 towards Gleann Dail (Glendale). Just before Milovaig a small road branches off to Waterstein and Neist Point. It leads you to a small parking lot above the cliffs. Here the road ends and you continue on foot. There are more marked parking spaces at the edge of the access road.
At the parking lot there is a small hut. A look through the window suggests that a souvenir store is to be built here. I suspect that Covid-19 messed up the schedule a bit, because everything was unfinished and locked.
Tip: Dinner at the Red Roof Restaurant
Not far from Neist Point you will find super delicious vegetarian / vegan food that is produced locally, biologically and ethically.
Book Recommendations for Scotland
You want to know where the journey goes? Then I recommend the following travel guides, which have proven themselves on my trip:
Have you ever been to the Isle of Skye, maybe even to Neist Point? Were you lucky and could watch whales or dolphins? If so, please write me a comment!