Springtime in Waternish
It only takes a few sunny days to forget the long winter months and feel the joys of spring. The days are getting longer, wild flowers add splashes of colour to the stunning views, birds start singing as a prelude to nesting and, of course, the first lambs are born on Waternish crofts.
Spring is the perfect time to visit this beautiful and quiet northern corner of the Isle of Skye. Enjoy stunning sea views and spectacular sunsets. At night, marvel at our unpolluted inky black skies and myriad of twinkling stars. Feel uplifted as Waternish comes back to life in the spring.
In February and March, small but bright yellow daffodils grow in gardens and along roadside verges, soon followed by enchanting lesser cellandines, wild primroses and marsh marigolds. Later on, unexpected carpets of beautiful bluebells abound. Waternish also hosts an abundance of other wild flowers, including insectivorous plants and orchids, for the keen botanist to seek out. A botanical survey in 2019 recorded 156 different species of plant in the one-kilometre-square centred around Fairy Bridge alone!
Fairy Bridge is the gateway to the delightful Waternish peninsular. The original settlers arrived here by boat from the sea, and some visitors still do. But if you are arriving by car, you will follow the narrow road across heather-clad moorland before arriving at the crofting townships. Get ready for an amazing and inspiring experience!
Waternish is a traditional crofting area, almost unspoilt by modern technology and intensive land management. Wildlife and wild flowers are allowed to thrive. Historically, local crofters used to dig their peat for winter fuel on the open moorland around Fairy Bridge. Sheep and cattle still graze contentedly beside the unfenced road, as do occasional red deer and roe deer.
Look out for birds of prey: Sea Eagle, Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Peregrine and Sparrow hawk are frequently seen here.
Gradually, the fine views of Loch Bay and the crofting townships of Waternish come into view, with inspirational views out across The Minch to the Outer Hebridean islands. On clear days, such views are enhanced still further by our spectacular world-class sunsets. This is one of the most beautiful corners of Skye, with photo opportunities in every direction.
Springtime is lambing time on Waternish crofts. There are three main breeds of sheep here: Cheviot, Scottish Blackface and Hebridean. The lambs are a particular delight to see.
Waternish is a good place to visit for birdwatchers. Over the course of a year, you may see up to 100 different species of bird on Waternish, from the mighty reintroduced sea eagle to our smallest breeding bird, the Goldcrest. The crofting land on Waternish supports a healthy population of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, plus a few summer-visiting corncrakes. Twite, Linnet, Redpoll, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin and Wren are regularly spotted. In May, the cuckoo returns from Africa, a sure sign that summer is on its way! Spring is also migration time for sea birds. Large numbers of seabirds are passing north through The Minch at this season. Wading birds are on the move, too. This is an exciting time of year for birdwatchers on Waternish!
And don’t forget our Sea Mammals! Being situated at the northern coastal fringe of Skye, Waternish offers good vantage points to see whales and dolphins as they travel through the Minch. Seals and porpoises are frequently spotted in Loch Bay. Bring your telescope to watch them from the comfort of your accommodation, or enjoy a local boat trip to get even closer!
No matter if you are visiting Waternish to take in the inspiring overall views, or to look in more detail at the wildlife and proliferation of wildflowers growing along roadside verges and on local crofts, Waternish is a very special place, a place to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Every day offers a new beautiful experience. Welcome to Waternish!
Our thanks to John Hawell and Carmen Meier of The Smiddy for composing this delightful piece.