Part III – The Ord Window – A Geological Masterpiece

My love affair with Skye is, as with many love affairs – complex. It’s not just inspired by rugged cliffs, majestic mountains or secret glens but so, so much more. This single most amazing occurrence on Skye, is not the magnificent waterfalls (Part IV) – although they are breathtaking especially when it’s been raining. It’s not even the vast array of wild flowers, some quite rare and endangered (Part V). ‘Ok’, you say! So it must be the wildlife? Nope! Not this time. You’ll have to wait a while for Part VI for that facet. In fact, I’ll let you into a little secret! It’s not anything that lives or breathes that draws me to this particular place and deepens my affinity with Skye. Furthermore, I’ll let you into another secret, because you’re never going to guess……. so brace yourself! Are you ready?! It’s a geological masterpiece.

Geology, as we all know is quite simply a branch of science that deals with the dynamics and physical history of planet earth, especially the rocks of which it is composed, and the dramatic changes that the earth has undergone over billions of years and in fact is still undergoing now.  Right here, at Ord, it’s almost painful.

Blà Bheinn & Clac Glas from Ord beach
Blà Bheinn and Clach Glas from Ord beach

Why are we here though? Well you see, I was thinking, as I was mentally touring Skye, and my complex reaction to specific places on this Island, that I had reached the peninsula of Sleat (pronounced slate). In my minds eye I began to follow the signs to Ord and after a wee drive, remember parking at the bottom of the slope by the beach, where the River Ord meets the sea.

River Ord as it joins Loch Eishort
River Ord as it joins Loch Eishort

A few minutes later I catch my first slice of pure geological history. Billions of years in the making; via ice ages, volcanic eruptions and seismic pressure, this small anomaly explodes out of the cliffs scattering its remains across the beach towards the sea . These rocks – some hot and fluid, others cold and hard – were pushed, twisted, shoved and nudged to suddenly emerge – HERE! It’s like looking back into a prehistoric age when the earth was being formed. When continents were sliding and shifting and the dinosaurs roamed our shores.

It’s only a short walk from where I park and a bit of a scrabble around the rocks but here it is, The Ord Window, the southern-most end of the Moine Thrust. A mass of tangled, thrusting rocks that explode quite suddenly, right here on this south eastern edge of Skye. Unexpected, it produces an “Oh Wow!” exclamation because although small it’s…….. well it’s quite simply, as I said, dramatic!


The Ord Window, southern most tip of the Moine Thrust
Basal Quartzite at The Ord Window of the Moine Thrust
Colourful layers folded & twisted millions of years in the making
Colourful layers folded and twisted where sandstone has fallen away


Quartzite along the beach where it folds beneath sandstone
Quartzite along the beach where it folds beneath sandstone and disappears into the sea

Believe me, this isn’t the only geological piece of drama on Skye, it is one of several. All of which can be explored from the comfort of your laptop just by searching for Geology on Skye if you so wish. But personally, I think it’s much more fun to get out there and see for yourself.

Skye encapsulates just a meagre 1,656 square kilometres (approximately 1,029 square miles), that’s not a great deal of land on which to showcase much amazingly special examples of geology, but diverse, special and especially dramatic describes them perfectly.

Everyone is familiar with The Old Man of Storr and The Quiraing. Areas of huge geological movement, where exposed rock reveals massive, strange structures. Where the land moves constantly, year on year, sliding away towards the sea.

But what about other more secret places on Skye? Where we can see Basalt Columns or where Black Gabbro and Red Granite collide? They’re here! you just need to look for them.

So go on! Explore! I dare you!

1 thought on “Part III – The Ord Window – A Geological Masterpiece”

  1. I’m fired up! Next visit will include at least the Ord. I see more hiking in my future. Skye invokes such a feeling of being in a beginning-of-time place!

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