6 November 2012

The most beautiful landslide on Earth? The Quiraing landslide on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Posted by Dave Petley

One of the most picturesque landslides on the earth is located at Quiraing (sometimes spelt Quirang) on the Isle of Skye in north-west Scotland.  This is a very large, complex landslide complex on the Trotternish Range on the northern side of the Isle of Skye:


The landslide complex itself is both very large and very complex, as the Google Earth imagery shows:


These are the largest landslides in the UK, covering an area of at least 8.5 square kilometres.  This is a classic geologically-controlled landslide system, consisting of thick basalt layers overlying weak Jurassic sediments.  The weight of the basaltic rocks is driving failure in the Jurassic sediments, allowing landslides to develop on a very large-scale.  Movements continue today, albeit at a fairly low rate.

Where this landslide comes into its own in terms of majestic beauty – indeed, I would suggest that this is perhaps the most beautiful landslide system on Earth.  I can’t reproduce it here, but take a look at this Flickr photo of the landslide – see what I mean?  Or take a look at this Flickr archive of images from the landslide complex.    These two aren’t bad either:

Duncan Shaw:


And Lukas Spieker:



It is well worth a visit if you are ever in Scotland –  Walk Highlands has a walking tour of the landslide complex.