Discover The Secrets Of ‘Dinosaur Isle’
Skye is an enchanting place, and the myths and legends that have grown up over time are often inspired by the landscapes we see around us every day.
And there’s no better place to start discovering your own stories than Staffin.
With its rugged and remote setting, Staffin is glorious all year round. Once you’ve decided to explore Skye, you’ll find that Staffin’s sandy beach, sloping gently into the sea, is a beautiful place to visit, whether you’re looking for a family adventure or you’re out for a rewarding hike.
But the beach holds a secret, and it’s one that visitors who are in the know often spend time seeking out when they come and stay with us. It’s a secret that takes you back to a time when Skye really was a ‘Dinosaur Isle’!
Immerse Yourself In A Lost World
Staffin sits on the beautiful northeast coast of the Trotternish Peninsula. The Kilmartin river runs through the village and at the point it reaches the sea, a rocky shore leads east to a slipway at An Corran.
It’s here, if you spend your time searching the rocky slabs that are revealed at low tide, you’ll find those extraordinary dinosaur footsteps, preserved for eternity and ready for you to explore.
Around 50 individual footprints, left by a creature similar to a Megalosaurus, have been discovered so far. You never know, you might find the next one! Many are up to 50 cm across and are the largest to be found in Scotland.
They’ve inspired the imaginations of artists and storytellers over many years, and local fossil hunters and paleontologists even opened the Staffin Dinosaur Museum in 1976 in response to the sheer volume and quality of fossilized remains in the area. This great community museum gives you loads of information on the species identified in the local area, including Stegosaurus, Hadrosaurus and Coelophysis.
Did you know, for example, that when these giant animals roamed Skye, the land itself was in a very different place?
Back in the Jurassic era, the land we associate with Skye was part of a smaller subtropical island much nearer the equator. Over the years, the landmasses separated from each other to form their own islands. And as the land slowly continues to shift, new fossilized discoveries are being made.
What these footprints and other fossils combine to tell us is that a wide mix of species roamed the land many years ago. For many years it was thought that Skye was home exclusively to herbivorous dinosaurs, but the Staffin footprints now offer conclusive proof that Skye had carnivorous dinosaurs too, possibly standing up to 7ft tall.
It’s tempting to imagine these marvelous creatures moving majestically across the rocky landscape, or to feel as though you’re starring in your very own dinosaur movie as you explore Skye and the history it has to offer.
Top Tips For Dinosaur Spotting!
If you want to discover your own dinosaur history when you explore Skye, then here are some top tips to make the most from your visit to Staffin beach:
- Make sure you pack some walking boots, wellies or other sturdy shoes for exploring the coastline. Some of the rock formations can have rough or uneven sections, and good footwear is extremely sensible, all year round.
- Don’t forget to check the tide times to help increase your chances of seeing these awesome fossils: at high tide, the prints are covered, so make sure you plan ahead so as not to make a trip to the beach at the wrong time.
- Don’t overlook where you’re standing. Dinosaur footprints are easiest to spot from directly above, so make sure you stop frequently and look down if you want to walk in the footsteps of giants!
- Fossilized footprints can appear at random, as the actual rock in which they are set will have been moved countless times over the millennia. So, don’t look for patterns, look for individual tracks.
- Bring your phone or camera and be sure to take snaps of any footprints you find. You can post them here on the Chasing The Moon blog, or even head along to the museum and see if your discovery is a brand new footprint!
The Magic Of Skye On The Doorstep
Walking down to visit the dinosaur footprints from Chasing The Moon, I’m always reminded of the beauty and power of the landscape, and the wilderness of Skye always offers me a reassuring sense of place and purpose.
When you explore Skye, you have an opportunity to grab a little bit of freedom and to reset yourself. To be awed by a profound connection to history and nature. To be an adventurer. To be a child. To be yourself again.
So, no matter what your age, a visit to Staffin and the secrets it holds is always a must.
We’d love to hear from you if you’ve spotted any dinosaur footprints at Staffin or dipped a toe in one of the Fairy Pools…send us a picture or share some feedback on your trip using the form below.