Looking for fossil remains is one of those things that you don’t get to do everyday but Skye is very rich geologically and the Elgol area is no exception with plenty of fossil hunting interest. Although not a fossil site in itself, the famous homeycomb rock, just past the school on the shore at Elgol is a good starting point.
One thing to get clear straight away is that the whole coastline round Elgol is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under legislation for its geology and it is therefore illegal to chip away at bed rock. There is no restriction on picking up loose rocks containing fossils, such as those readily found on the shore. For full details of Scottish Natural Heritage’s Code of Practice see here.
The shore at Elgol has some remains but the shore around Glen Scaladal is better. Take the cliff top path from Elgol that goes round Loch Scavaig towards Camusunary and the Cuillins to get there. The cliff path starts near the top of the steep drop down into Elgol on the public road. It is sign posted and follows a track past several houses until it opens out onto the moorland. Follow it along the cliffs until you can find a safe point to descend onto the beach below. The area either side of the Glen usually produces some finds.
This part of Skye has remains from the Mid Jurrasic period which are mostly sea creatures such as belemnites and ammonites and a wide variety of shellfish remains.
The Elgol shore has yet to yield anything as spectacular in the way of dinosaur remains that have turned up in the north of the island but who knows – keep looking and see what you can find.
A good time of the year to look is after the winter gales have taken their toll on the cliffs and shoreline. Rock falls and where erosion has taken place are good places to look, especially in March and April.
Guests staying at Springbank Cottage, our self catering holiday let in Elgol, have the use of a number of resources that form part of our environmental activities offer of which fossil hunting is one. There’s guide books, hammers, chisels and safety equipment to help you get the most out of your fossiling time on Skye.