Waternish

The Middle Peninsula to the north of Skye is called Waternish after the Gaelic Bhatarnais itself derived from vadn, the Old Norse for water. The old road for Waternish leaves from the The Fairy bridge. This is a stonebuilt bridge between Edinbane and Dunvegan where the Chief of the MacLeods was given the fairy flag for protection before his fairy wife left him forever and returned to her people.

The beautifully whitewashed buildings of Stein are bedecked with dormer windows that look over the bay. Planned as a fishing village by the British Fisheries Society, Stein was designed by Thomas Telford in 1790. It is ironic that this master of design came undone in remote Skye but it is true that his plans for Stein ground to a halt in 1798 and were never completed.

Stein has two restaurants and there is plenty of accommodation in the area. Waternish offers boat trips and artists’ studios, SkyeSkins; the only tannery in Scotland and the vibrantly colourful Shilasdair Exhibition. There are a number of designated ‘Dark Skies’ locations but really, the whole peninsula is free from light pollution.

The archaeology in Waternish is worth mentioning. There is the incongruous and slightly disappointingly ruined Temple of Anaitis. It is unknown if the temple’s history dates back to the start of Christianity on the island or before. On a Sunny day this is a pleasant place to visit and imagine the wooden statue of the goddess leading a procession to the river to be washed and blessed. Dun Hallin broch to the East of Hallin makes for another interesting walk with views over Dunvegan head. The walk to the top of Beinn an Sguirr has terrific views, particularly of Harris.

The ruined church of Trumpan was the site of brutal guerrilla warfare between The MacLeods and the MacDonalds. All save one of the MacLeod villagers of Trumpan were burned alive inside the church. The one who escaped fetched the MacLeod army who killed all the MacDonalds in Blar Milleadh a' Ghàraidh the Battle of the Spoiling Dyke. From here there is a walk of about 4 miles each way that takes you from Trumpan to the lighthouse at Waternish Point. On the way there are more brochs; Dun Borrafiach is fairly well preserved but Dun Gearymore is badly ruined.