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Isle of Skye – minerals digging tour

Last Updated: 15th Nov 2010

By Dagmara Lesiow

14 – 19.06.2010 Isle of Skye – minerals digging tour

At last one of my dreams came true – I went to Isle of Skye! I couldn’t believe I am in a place where I can actually find biggest amount of zeolites in such a small area. Most of time we had good weather, twice sunny day and rest cloudy but warm. Unfortunately that was one of the worst year with midges – so we used and used and used repellents but didn’t seem to work.
I visited couple locations. Generally I wasn’t disappointed. If I would have to pick my favourite one that would be Moonen Bay. But first things first.
Map with localizations of zeolites on Isle of Sky.

1. Area of Staffin (position on the map 22)
Latitude: +57° 38' 3.73"
Longitude: -6° 12' 51.62"
I’ve been here twice but first time on 14.06 was more successful . Maybe because nice sunny day. Other day was pretty dark and rainy and was really difficult to recognize stones. Anyway – Staffin Bay it is proper name for this place. It is the Stenscholl river mouth. Unfortunately I didn’t take wellingtons so I could work just on right site. To this site is public access. Left site is bigger however I couldn’t find any way to get there. Everywhere enclosed pastures or private properties. And no way to pass the river without good waterproofed shoes. It is rock type beach with tones of different size tumblestones. To find something you have to just use your hammer and crack the stones. Time spent all together here was about 3 hours. Definitely I found:
Analcime – up to 12mm
Chabazite – up to 4mm
Laumontite – nice, transparent, tiny crystals
Mesolite - white needles
Thomsonite – yellowish or white spherules
Also I think I have seen in my specimens one levyne crystal but have to check that again.

2. Flodigarry (pos. 23)
Was very poor weather, showers on and off all the time, but I managed to visit two locations in this area:

a) Old quarry
Latitude: +57° 39' 34.51"
Longitude: -6° 14' 54.57"
Very old, tiny quarry, most rocks and crystals weathered. Found loads of analcime and mesolite. Also apophyllite and calcite. All in about 30 minutes.

b) Beach
Latitude: +57° 39' 42.61"
Longitude: -6° 14' 48.26"
I have been quite lucky because again is hard to get on beach thru pastures and private backyards. But someone was building new house so was access in here. Same as on Staffin Bay – tumblestones and cracking, smacking, hitting etc. Time spent here was approx. 2 hours.
What I found:
Analcime – up to 5mm crystals
Chabazite – crystals up to 3mm
Laumontite – white mass
Mesolite – white hairy crystals
Thomsonite – small balls
Mesolite and analcime were most popular. Then chabazite, thomsonite and laumontite. Nicest piece I found is not to big geode 17mm wide but has mesolite and on its hair type crystals are tiny analcimes and calcites.
As an extra I found couple belemnites fossils.

3. Talisker Bay (pos. 4)
Latitude: 57°16'57"N
Longitude: 6°27'21"W
Weather was so so. Showers on and off but not to often. Quite windy though. Central part of the beach is similar to Staffin and Flodigarry – different size thumblestones, but on right site there is cliff with fresh rocks falling down. Most of collecting I did on right site. I spent here about 3 hours. Minerals I collected on Talisker Bay were:
Analcime – I seen crystals up to 20mm, but not possible to take out
Chabazite – white cubes up to 4mm and lightly orange crystals fan like - up to 5mm,
Levyne– white, crystals, small surprise because I haven’t seen that on list zeolites found here
Mesolite - white needles
Thomsonite – yellowish or white spherules
Stilbite – white tiny crystals and yellowish

4. Moonen Bay (pos. 2)
Latitude: 57°25'7"N
Longitude: 6°44'39"W
As I mentioned before – I think this one is my favourite. Any step I took there were zeolites!
However access is not so easy, and you have to be very carefully – I felt down couple times and got bruises. Anyway was beautiful weather, quite windy but sunny. Great view on cliffs and waterfall on the beach. What was great, there is plenty fresh rocks pieces falling down – so also loads of minerals in great condition – but like I said – you have to be very careful.
In 3 hours I found:
Chabazite – tones and tones, I have seen cubes up to 15mm, white and light orange/pinkish
Thomsonite – again loads of it, biggest balls up to 15mm
Stilbite – from tiny crystals up to bow twins about 50mm, white and pinkish/light orange
Mesolite – typical hairy white crystals
Natrolite – this one totally surprise, because I haven’t seen any specimens f natrolite from here before. I got couple and seen natrolite sun up to 100mm!
Analcime – white opaque to transparent, up to 10mm
5. Sligachan Quarry (road A855)
Latitude: 57°17'47"N
Longitude: 6°9'19"W
I visited this wee place twice – first on my way in and second on way out of Skye. I’ve spent there roughly 20 minutes all together (midges again!). It is old quarry so quite hard to find here fresh samples of rocks. I collected couple pieces in which I found small crystals of prehnite, epidote and calcite. I’ve seen also typical greenish copper oxides (chrysocolla?). No zeolites this time.

Trip to Isle of Skye was great opportunity to collect many minerals from group of zeolites. With minimum effort and small amount of time there is possibility to collect basic specimens of: Analcime, Chabazite, Laumontite, Levyne, Mesolite, Natrolite, Thomsonite and Stilbite. Of course I wish to visit more locations however some are available only from sea side (example Sgurr Nam Boc) and some during the years started to be very weathered so without heavy equipment is not possible to collect high class specimens. I hope I will visit Isle of Skye again in the future.

I would like to thank my husband Grzegorz for driving, carrying my backpack and for patient during this trip. Without you that wouldn’t be possible... xxx

P.S. Pictures to follow

Article has been viewed at least 17628 times.


I'm jealous, Dag!! What a wonderful place to visit and poke around for zeolites. We were there a couple years and the geology there is incredible. We ended up at Talisker Bay as well, but for a completely different reason.... ;-)

Paul Brandes
25th Jun 2010 8:52pm
Sounds great place, I am looking for somewhere to go to add to my collection, looking forward to seeing the pictures. I live in Lancashire so not to far to go for a few days of good hunting!!!

Peter Rhodes
14th Jul 2010 1:21pm
PS: Forgot to add that I vistited Taliskar bay for a bad reason as well, took 5 bottles away from the factory shop, great stuff !!!!!

Peter Rhodes
14th Jul 2010 1:22pm

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