The John Muir Trust is a community focused conservation charity dedicated to the experience, protection and repair of wild places across the UK. Wild places are essential for the wellbeing of people and wildlife, now and into the future. We exist to help people connect with and experience wild places, to protect wild places from development that compromises their character and to work with others to enhance, repair and rewild ecosystems and landscapes.
The John Muir Trust owns more than 12,000 hectares of land on the Isle of Skye including much of the Cuillin Hills National Scenic Area, from Sligachan in the North, to the picturesque fishing village of Elgol in the South. We work hard to re-establish natural eco systems across our properties by restoring peatbogs and regenerating native woodlands, we carry out regular habitat monitoring and wildlife surveys, we clean beaches, remove invasive species, hold guided walks and talks, and work with our local communities to care for the land and the wildlife within. We maintain many miles of footpath to enable access to some of our most spectacular locations and we provide information and facilities for visitors to our land.
With ever increasing visitor numbers to the island, the pressure on our landscape is growing, more and more people are looking to give something back, and we are keen to support that ethos. We would love to invite you to help us keep our land on Skye special.
This year we are very excited to be teaming up with Real Scottish Journeys to provide meaningful holiday experiences for visitors to our beautiful island. With the restrictions of the last year or so, we are behind on our practical conservation work - so we need your help!
In exchange for your help to clear plastic from our beaches, or invasive species from our precious woodlands, we can offer you an unforgettable experience. Meet the people who live and work here, share stories old and new and visit parts of Skye that few tourists get to see. We can take you on a journey of discovery, from uncovering thousands of years of human history to finding the best eagle or otter watching spots that you won’t find in any guide books!
Neist Point Lighthouse, Isle of Skye, Scotland.
When Neist Point Lighthouse was built in the early 20th century, is cost just over £4000. When the lantern, which was made by Dove&Co, was delivered the cost increased to around £5500. When I checked on the inter-web that is around £600,000 to £700,000 today. Seems like a bargain?
The engineer in charge was David A. Stevenson who was part of a famous clan of lighthouse builders. And, of course a relative of Robert Louis Stevenson who needs no introduction from me.
The light house is still operational today. It still helps ships captains to calculate or confirm their position. As they look towards the tower with its wee bright light flashing every 5 seconds. They know that it can be relied upon, after all its been going since 1909. From the bridge of a super-tanker to the deck of week end yacht heading back to Portree ...its good to know even if they are surrounded by radar and plotters, there is something out there that is real. Something to rely on.
If exploring around Neist please take good care there are many places that are exposed to the wind, the sea and dangerous cliffs. Please check some of the many guidesthat have been published about walking to Neist Point. Please note that the buildings around the lighthouse tower are in private ownership. Neist Point Lighthouse is not open to visitors.
Getting to Neist Point
Neist Point, on the Isle of Skye, is a craggy, rocky finger of land which pokes out in to the North Atlantic from west coast of the island. I love it, as you are surrounded by the sounds, taste and smell of the sea.
The view constantly changes and of course the weather decides everything. Sometimes, if you are lucky, the wildlife comes out to play. I have watched whales and basking sharks slowly exploring Moonen bay. But it’s the regulars that make it special, the sea birds soaring high above the cliff tops and the seals popping up to check you out.
Neist is a windy place by any standard, even the old light house at its tip, has to hold on tight as it clings to the ancient volcanic rock. The bricks and mortar should look out of place, after all, there is only rock and sea. Yet it doesn’t, it’s part of the story, it should be there. Even on a clam day as a wave crashes on to a rock you understand why it’s there. When I look towards the Outer Hebrides my connection to the land seems tenuous. My mind wanders with the waves and I am drawn to the sea that connects everything on earth...but enough of me rambling on.
The drive out to Neist Point Light is equally mesmerising. It is approximately 11 miles on mostly single-track road to Neist Point from the main car park in the Dunvegan village. It is worth noting that there are public toilets here and there are none at Neist point. You have been warned.
The road winds slowly along the shore of Loch Dunvegan with views on most days to the top of Macleod’s Tables. These little flat mountain tops are where a Scottish king and a clan chief once had their tea under the stars. It was a fine affair and the legend goes that Chief of the Macleod’s set a fine table with sumptuous treats and fine wine to upstage a Scottish king. Good to reflect: that powerful leaders today have stopped showing off to one another!
If the tide is low, there is a good chance that you will see seals lying on the rocks as you pass the “Three Chimney’s” restaurant. The road then climbs up from the loch-side, suddenly the views are spectacular! Loch Poolteil, Glendale and the Outer Hebrides all dance in to view.
Glendale is tucked away from the world and it is delightful. There is a wonderful village shop and Café Lephin is just the perfect place to stop for lunch or a coffee before reaching Neist Point. Neil and Corrie offer something to suit everyone’s taste and diet.
From Cafe Lephin it is only a short 15 minute drive to Neist Point. But not one that you want to rush. It is all single track with passing places and the road is steep in places. But the views are worth it. There is now ample parking close to the footpath that leads down to Neist Point. At the head of the trail there is a little take-away shop. Stop here for a coffee on a cold day or an ice cream on a hot day and best of all a wee blether with Jane or Sam any day.
Take care good care at Neist, the paths can be slippy and you are walking past sheer drops with no safety net!
We are all looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Skye when it is safe to do. For 2021 we are developing a new type of day tour in conjunction with a local conservation organisation. More and more we recognise the impact of tourism has around the world and visitors in the past have often wanted to contribute in some positive way to the island's ecology. To give something back to nature. Now there is a way!
From this year visitors can contribute to Skye's ecology and the island community practically. Indeed they will be part of that community for a day. On a conservation tour part of the day is spent exploring off the beaten track and the other half of the day is "hands on" conservation work.
These tours will be varied and fun. But more importantly they will make a difference in two ways, practical work on the island, that will help shape the island's future and 50% of the cost of going on the tour will be donated to a local conservation project or charity. This is a real opportunity to give something back as you travel. It is a chance for visitors to make a real connection to the island and to follow their contribution for years to come.
List of dates and projects will follow shortly.