The Cleared Coast

Scotland has a long, interesting but sometimes brutal history. We tried to explore some of that history while we were away on holiday, and on Wednesday we walked some of the coastline that was worst affected by the Highland Clearances. In a nutshell, during the 18th and 19th centuries there was on-going tension between the landowners and the land users. As the profits available from sheep farming grew to be greater than the rents from tenants landowners forcibly, and sometimes cruelly removed people from their homes and the villages that their families had lived in for generations. This led to a mass emigration to the Scottish lowlands and to North America.
Many of these old houses and villages can still be seen around the highlands. We visited two such villages on Wednesday.

We had beautiful weather and walked about 10.25miles. We found the walk on a great website called Walk Highlands and thoroughly enjoyed it .  {If you’re ever going to Scotland I would highly recommend this great resource as all the instructions are very clear for the walks and they have photos to help you along your way too.}

We started our walk by the ruined church of Cill Chriosd. The ruin dates from the sixteenth century when this was the heart of one of Skye's most fertile and populous districts but following the forced evictions of the Clearances the church fell into ruins and was superseded in 1840 by a new church at Broadford.

We then walked through an old quarry on an abandoned railway line for several miles until we reached the coast. As we reached the coast we came to our first abandoned village called Boreraig. Walk Highlands says “as fertile, sheltered and beautiful a spot as any village on Skye, but it was brutally cleared by Lord Macdonald in 1853, all residents being evicted and their homes burned to make way for the more profitable sheep. On a fine sunny day it is easy to imagine the children playing amongst the fields.”

We then walked on until we reached Suisnish. The whole area was absolutely beautiful, but it’s hard to imagine how those people would have felt to be forcibly removed from the only homes they had ever known. Bracken has now reclaimed most of the areas around the villages, and all that remains are sheep, sea and silence.


  1. Those are amazing landscapes! And the run-down houses are beautiful. I love visiting places that have a lot of history and getting to learn that history. I think Scotland or even Ireland would be so amazing (and I have both in my ancestry).

    The weather looks like it was perfect, too!

  2. Omigoodness, look at that blue sky! I am so jealous. What a wonderful place to visit. I have never been to Scotland but it's on my list!

    Thanks for sharing some of the history, too. I learned some new things today!