Scot­tish panora­mas The Quiraing has fairies, drag­ons and a star­ring role in Hol­ly­wood films

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SU­SAN SWAR­BRICK

NO mat­ter if you have never been to Skye, the sweep­ing views of the Quiraing stoke the imag­i­na­tion. In child­hood tales of myth­i­cal beasts, this is what the land­scapes con­jured in the mind’s eye look like.

The area is rich with sto­ries in this vein – be it as a re­puted meet­ing place for fairies or home to drag­ons who saw off in­vaders. It is lit­tle sur­prise, then, that the Quiraing has had a star­ring role in films such as Mac­beth, Star­dust, The Land

That Time For­got, The BFG and King Arthur: Leg­end of the Sword.

Part of the Trot­ternish penin­sula, it was formed by a mas­sive land­slip that cre­ated tow­er­ing cliffs, elevated plateaus and pin­na­cles of rock. The re­sult is one of awe-in­spir­ing beauty, all the more dra­matic when seen in the flesh.

You could imag­ine di­nosaurs walk­ing here. In fact, nearby An Cor­ran beach at Staf­fin has sea­weed-cov­ered rocks that bear the three-toed im­pres­sions left by what is thought to be a fam­ily of mega­losaurus 165 mil­lion years ago.

The Quiraing has strik­ing land­marks: The Prison, The Nee­dle and The Table. Each does ex­actly what it says on the tin. The Nee­dle is a jagged 120-foot-high (37m) pin­na­cle, while The Table is a flat, grassy area and The Prison is a rocky peak re­sem­bling a medieval keep.

Travers­ing the nar­row paths, scram­bling up and down steep slopes, makes for an ex­hil­a­rat­ing day out in the hills. In clear weather, the vis­tas are stun­ning stretch­ing across Skye and be­yond to­wards Wester Ross and the Tor­ri­don Hills on the main­land.

If hill­walk­ing isn’t your thing, the Quiraing can still be en­joyed on a scenic drive along the mi­nor road that crosses the penin­sula from Staf­fin to Uig. Even from ground level it is im­pos­si­ble not to be struck by the im­men­sity of this rugged ter­rain. When the mist comes down, it is a set­ting that makes the spine tin­gle with the eerie prom­ise of some­thing oth­er­worldly lurk­ing.

The Skye Trail by Cameron McNeish and Richard Else charts a 70-mile walk across the is­land.

Best clear your diary. The list of on-screen ap­pear­ances isn’t short. Net­flix’s Robert the Bruce biopic Out­law King, star­ring Chris Pine, was shot here. Spot it in the Keanu Reeves-led sa­mu­rai ac­tion flick 47 Ronin and the fan­tasy, Snow White and the Hunts­man, with Kris­ten Ste­wart, Chris Hemsworth and Char­l­ize Theron.

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