Suisnish Clearance village
Suisnish Clearance village

Suisnish is a deserted Clearance village in Strath, south of Broadford, looking out over Loch Eishort towards the Sleat peninsula. Suisnish and the neighbouring settlement of Boreraig were cleared of their inhabitants in 1853 by Lord MacDonald, who wanted to use the land for raising sheep.

History

The poignant ruins of crofters' cottages stand as a reminder of the devastation wrought by the Highland Clearances, when thousands of crofters were forcibly moved off land that their families had farmed for centuries.

In the case of Suisnish and Boreraig, the scene was recorded by a geologist named Archibald Geike, who was exploring the area at the time. Geike describes the tragic scene in these words:

'I could see a long and motley procession winding along the road that led north from Suisnish ... There were old men and women, too feeble to walk, who were placed in carts; the younger members of the community on foot were carrying their bundles of clothes ... while the children, with looks of alarm, walked alongside ... A cry of grief went up to heaven, the long plaintive wail, like a funeral coronach, was resumed ... the sound re-echoed through the wide valley of Strath in one prolonged note of desolation.'

Ruins of a crofter's cottage at Suisnish
Ruins of a crofter's cottage at Suisnish

In all, some thirty-two families were forced from the land in Suisnish and Boreraig, two of the last settlements on Skye to be cleared. After the families had been forced from their houses, the doors were nailed shut behind them and their thatched roofs were set on fire to prevent any of the crofters from trying to return.

A year later, in 1854, a visitor to Boreraig reported finding several families living in the open, unwilling to leave behind the only homes they had ever known.

Start from the ruined church of Cill Chriosd
Start from the ruined church of Cill Chriosd

Getting There

There are two routes you can take to reach Suisnish. One involves following a rough track from the end of a minor road south of Torrin. The other, longer but more popular route, involves a lovely walk from the ruined church at Cill Chriosd, past the ruins of Boreraig, then along the coast to Suisnish. The two routes can be combined to make a circular walk.

Route 1

From the B8083 east of Torrin, take the minor road signposted to Kilbride. Keep left to pass the Torrin Marble Quarry and carry on to the end of the road near the beach at Camas Malag. From the beach follow the landrover track that skirts the coast, heading south to Suisnish, a distance of roughly 2.5 miles.

The trail follows the shore of Loch Eishort
The trail follows the shore of Loch Eishort

Route 2

Park at the ruined 15th-century church of Cill Chriosd, set in a lovely location near the inland lake of Loch Cill Chriosd. The church remained in use until 1840 when a new parish church was erected at Broadford. At the east end of the ruined building is a burial enclosure for Clan Mackinnon of Coirechatachan.

Beside the churchyard is a small hillock known as 'Cnoc na-Aifhreann', or 'Hill of the Mass', where, according to legend, St Maelrubha held mass for the local inhabitants in the 7th century.

Waterfalls tumble down to the shore
Waterfalls tumble down to the shore

From Cill Chriosd walk back up the B8083 towards Broadford. You will quickly come to a track to the right, heading south. Follow this track past the remains of an old marble works until you come to a T-junction with a well-maintained footpath. Turn right and follow this footpath through spoil heaps left by marble processing.

The trail rises and you will pass a cairn at the top of a low pass between hills. Go through a gate and you will find a woodland plantation on your left. This is the Beinn nan Carn Native Woodland, a community woodland replanting moorland with native tree species.

The rocky shoreline
The rocky shoreline

Past the woodland, the trail descends towards the coast and you can see Loch Eishort ahead. The trail passes through the ruined foundations of crofters' cottages. This is Boreraig, the first of the Clearance villages.

Beyond the ruined cottages of Boreraig you join the coastal path, heading west along Loch Eishort, with wonderful views to the Sleat Peninsula. You will pass several picturesque waterfalls tumbling down the cliffs to your right as the trail hugs the shoreline. The trail then rises slightly and you come to Suisnish, with fantastic views across Loch Slapin.

Looking across Loch Slapin
Looking across Loch Slapin

From here you can either return the way you came or continue following the landrover track as in Route 1 and loop back to the B8083, turning right for Cill Chriosd and your starting place. The excellent Walk Highlands website has a good overview of this route.

Note: do not confuse this Suisnish with the Clearance village of Suisnish on the island of Raasay, which was cleared over the decade 1841-1851.

Most photos are available for licensing, please contact Britain Express image library.

About Suisnish Clearance Village
Address: Strath, Torrin, Isle of Skye, Highlands and Islands, Scotland
Attraction Type: Countryside
Location: By footpath from Cill Chriosd, four miles south of Broadford.
Location map
OS: NG592160
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS

Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

Dunscaith Castle - 2.5 miles (Castle) Heritage Rating

Cill Chriosd (Kilchrist Church) - 3.1 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Prince Charlie's Cave - 5.2 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Knock Castle - 6.6 miles (Castle) Heritage Rating

Loch Coriusk - 7.4 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Eas a' Bhradain Waterfall - 7.5 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Armadale Castle Gardens and Museum of the Isles - 8.2 miles (Museum) Heritage Rating

Coire Lagan - 9.7 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating



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