Landslides

The landslides of northern Skye are unrivalled in Britain. The best examples fringe the great escarpment of Trotternish where a thick pile of basalt lavas of Tertiary age rests on relatively weak sedimentary rocks of earlier Jurassic age.

With the march of time, the sedimentary rocks gave way to the great weight of the lavas, resulting in enormous landslides and the creation of awesome labyrinths of huge blocks, and pinnacles bearing the evocative names of the Quirang, Table, Needle, Prison, Dùn Dubh and the Old Man of Storr.

The largest and freshest features have formed in the last 15,000 years since the last widespread glaciation, but landslide deposits occurring farther away from the escarpment must have moved much earlier because they have been smoothed by the action of glaciers and are capped by till. Although the Trotternish landslides are the most famous, there are others along the coast of northern Skye and in Glen Uig.

The survival of thick accumulations of weathered, frost-shattered rock on hilltops along the Trotternish Escarpment suggests that these summits, like those of the Cuillin, stood above the last ice sheet as 'nunataks', and so underwent no glacial scouring.