To visit the entire Glasnakille stretch of coastline and to see its various bays and headlands, it must be accessed at three different places. The sea here reaches the plunging cliffs even at low tide. However, the scenery is worth the effort, even if fossil numbers are on the low side.
♦ From Elgol, drive along the small road (not the B8083) to the east until you come to a junction where you turn left. Park on the verge just before its end (the very end is reserved for turning vehicles). Carry on by foot through the gate and along the wooded path. You will pass through a couple of gates and, after about 600m, you will see a house. Walk just past this and then head down to the beach along the path next to it. The path is overgrown in places, but is easy enough to navigate.
♦ Leave location 1 and head back along the road until you come to a public telephone box. You can park in a lay-by a little further on from this. From here, cross the road and go over the style into the field. Follow the fence until you come to the cliff and then make your way south through the bracken. Be careful here. The path is almost invisible in places and the bracken covers any uneven areas that you could trip over. The path is also steep in places, so it is probably more suited to the more adventurous fossil hunter. As you descend towards the beach, you will come across a sloping gap in the cliffs, through which you can access the beach.
♦ This is situated at the opposite end of the road from location 1. To access it, park near to the end of the road (again the very end is reserved for turning vehicles) and carry on by foot. The road becomes a path and this can be followed until it reaches the beach.
♦ Ref: 57.14802°N, 6.07024°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦ – Fossil finds are minimal, with a few belemnite sections being all that you can expect from here. However, the area is still worth a visit, as it is extremely tranquil and very beautiful.
CHILDREN: ♦♦ – Locations 1 and 2 involve fairly arduous walks to reach the beaches and, as such, are not suitable for children. However, location 3 is much easier and is suitable for all.
ACCESS: ♦♦ – Access is difficult at locations 1 and 2, but is easy at location 3. All three beaches offer similar fossils, so, if in doubt about whether you can manage the walks at 1 and 2, it is best just to visit 3.
TYPE: – Fossils can be found in section in the cliffs, on boulders and rock platforms, and in cobbles and pebbles found on the foreshore.
The predominant fossils found are belemnites, but some rocks also contain bivalves. Apart from the fossils, there is a wealth of natural beauty to explore. The sea is crystal clear and the bottom can easily be seen through metres of water. The sea life that can be encountered includes little fish, crabs, anemones and sea urchins. If you are very lucky, an otter or a killer whale can be seen. The evidence of the activities of the former is plentiful – look out for broken sea urchin shells on the rock ledges.
There is no one area to look for fossils on these beaches. Belemnite partials can be seen just about anywhere – in the cliffs, on the rock platforms, in boulders, and showing in the sides of pebbles and cobbles. However, they are not particularly abundant, so it may take a while to find some.
The rocks along the entire coastal stretch at Glasnakille are composed of Druim An Fhurain Sandstone Member (Toarcian – Bajocian) formed in shallow seas approximately 168 to 183 million years ago in the Jurassic period.
Cross-bedded sandstones and sandy limestones comprise most of the Member. These are commonly either massive or thinly bedded and contain crinoid ossicles, bivalves, bryzoan, belemnites and brachiopod fragments, especially in the lower part of the succession.
The beaches here and the walks to them (especially locations 1 and 2) are very remote. The path down to the beach at location 2 is steep and overgrown. If visiting this stretch of coastline, do so in a group or at least a pair. Do not attempt them alone. Mobile phone signals may be lost here, so it is especially important that you inform someone of where you are going and what time you expect to return.
A big hammer is required here, as the rocks are large and very hard. Some smaller rocks can be found, but, at the very least, a lump hammer is required. A sledge hammer is perfect.
Skye has a rich fossil heritage with particularly important fossils of Jurassic age. In addition to being Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) some areas of Skye’s coastline have added protection under a Nature Conservation Order (NCO). This Order seeks to protect vertebrate fossils that include the remains of dinosaurs. This guidance outlines how fossil collectors, visitors to the island and the general public have an important role in helping to look after these important fossils.
Scotland’s fossil resource is at risk of abuse and damage, and so we must all safeguard and managed fossil collecting to ensure its survival for future generations. For this reason it is VITAL you read and adhere to the Scottish Fossil Code for ALL sites in Scotland.