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Scotland’s Isle of Skye is beautiful. It draws in many thousands of visitors from across the globe, attracted by the island’s history, its stunning walks, outstanding nature, and renowned hospitality. The island also lures movie producers and location scouts, with certain areas beloved by the cameras, appearing in many diverse and different movies, from historical dramas through to science fiction and fantasy. Here we share a guide to some of these wonderful locations.
Home to one of the most famous (and photographed) lighthouses in Scotland, Neist (pronounced Neest) Point is as far west as you can go on Skye. There are stunning views to be had across the stretch of water known as The Minch, to the islands that mark the western edge of Scotland, and sunsets here can be truly incredible. Neist Point appears in Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves, starring Emily Watson and Stellan Skarsgård, and also in the Keanu Reeves movie, 47 Ronin.
Hidden and a little bit magical, a walk in the hills near Uig leads to the strange landscape of The Fairy Glen. With curious landforms, cone-shaped hills, lochans (little lakes), and an odd, ethereal atmosphere, there’s no wonder this location was used in the movie Stardust, based on the book by Neil Gaiman. Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, the witch Lamia, appears here in a chariot drawn by goats, the landscape adding to the strangeness of the scene!
Appearing in the 2008 movie Made of Honour, the Dunvegan estate surrounds Dunvegan Castle, first built in the 13th century and inhabited by the same family ever since. This is the ancestral home of the MacLeod of MacLeod, the leader of the Clan MacLeod of Harris and Dunvegan. There is a resident seal colony on the shore near the castle, which also has wonderful gardens to explore.
A series of atmospheric peaks and ridges, the mountains of the Cuillin are split into two distinct areas, the Black Cuillin, and the Red Hills. Drawing mountaineers from across the UK and further afield, the ridges are often considered to be the finest mountaineering experience in the British Isles. There is little wonder these stunning heights were used in the movie Highlander. They also appear in Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle, which is a Gaelic language film whose title references Sgùrr Dearg, a peak in the Black Cuillin. The area was also a backdrop for some of Robert De Niro’s flying boat scenes in Stardust. As an added bonus, although technically not a movie, the trials cyclist Danny MacAskill, a local boy from Dunvegan, featured the area in his vertigo-inducing film, The Ridge.
The northern peninsula of Skye, Trotternish, is home to some of the most famous of the Skye landscapes. The Trotternish landslip stretches over 30 kilometres (19 miles) and is two kilometres (one mile) wide. Storr, and the Old Man of Storr in particular, have appeared in several movies, including the beginning of The Wicker Man and the opening scenes of Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus. Able to be seen from many miles around and incredibly atmospheric, it is not hard to see why it is a favourite place of many of the visitors to the island. The Old Man of Storr also appeared in the 1948 feature, Bonnie Prince Charlie, starring David Niven.
Situated at the northern end of the Trotternish Peninsula, the Quiraing is quite simply incredible, and inspires awe in whoever visits – such is the landscape’s power. This is certainly a feeling that influences movie-makers, as it has featured in films as diverse as The BFG, Macbeth, Stardust, The Land That Time Forgot, Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and Transformers: The Last Knight. The area features places including the famous rock pinnacle, The Needle, the hidden plateau of The Table, and The Prison, a natural rock formation that can look suspiciously like a castle from certain angles. Added to this is the (literally unsettling!) fact that the Quiraing portion of the Trotternish landslip is still moving today!
Portree, the largest town on Skye, also featured in Made of Honour, and is referenced in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, as the Quidditch team ‘Pride of Portree’ are from here. Aishaig airstrip, near Broadford, has a brief appearance at the start of the 1980 cult classic, Flash Gordon, and features a very young Robbie Coltrane as a baggage handler.