St Columba's Isle Skye

Just below the bridge where the main road between Portree and Dunvegan crosses the River Snizort, close to the Skeabost House Hotel, there is a well hidden and fascinating bit of Skye's history - St. Columba's Isle. There you will find ancient ruins and graves, stretching back over many centuries.

You can get close to it by car if you use the old road that runs just to the north of the current one. Take the turning to Tote at NG422485. Immediately after crossing the cattle grid, turn left and continue to the end of the road.

From the old bridge there is a clear path down the right bank of the river. This leads to a footbridge - constructed in 1990 by the Officers Training Corps of Edinburgh and Herriot-Watt Universities - that crosses to the island.

Chapel on St Columba's Isle

St. Columba is much better known for his association with the island of Iona, but this was the site on which he founded the cathedral of the bishops of the Isles. This was the centre of Christianity in the Hebrides from 1079 to 1498. There are obvious ruins of two small buildings, and the outlines of others can be traced. The island is peppered with graves, ranging in age from the 11th century to the 1960s. Many of them have legible inscriptions, and a few others have plaques showing transcriptions.

A burial ground, no matter how scenic, is not a great place for your picnic lunch. On your way back to the old road you can find any number of rocks to perch on, eat your sandwiches, and enjoy a great view of this fine salmon river rushing through its gorge. You may even choose to sit on the very boulder that St. Columba used as his pulpit...

Aerial view of St columba's Isle
Aerial view of St Columba's Isle