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Nicholson’s Leap… Click for full sized pictures!

Posted on May 30, 2011

As requested here is 'Nicholson's Leap' or Dùn Othail, unfortunately my camera was acting up and the pictures are not as good in quality as normal, next sunny day I will go back and take more.

Nicholson's Leap is a 150 foot high pinnacle of rock that can only be accessed from the south, via a series of small plateau's and eventually a narrow ledge, which runs into a defended entrance. The terraces beyond this have at least five structures upon them. It was first described as a natural fort in 1696, then in 1852 as the site of the ruins of a house said to have been erected and inhabited by an outlaw, and then in 1861 as a possible early chapel.

Local tradition associated with the site. Oighre MhicLeod (Heir of the MacLeod) was imprisoned at Dùn Othail by a MacNicol, in revenge for serious injuries inflicted on him by MacLeod, but suffice it to say that MacNicol jumped off the top of Dùn Othail with the heir, and they both were dashed on the rocks below. The gorge and dun were henceforth called MacNicol's Leap.

The site is however equally linked to the Clan Morrison, and is within the ancient boundaries of Ness, the clan's traditional home. Dun Othail would be easily defended from attack from land or sea, and its excellent views of the Minch suggests that it was possibly part of a group of duns used in an attempt to control activity within the Minch.

Here is a cut and paste extract from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_MacNeacail

On Lewis the ravine separating Dùn Othail from the mainland is called "Leum Mhac Nicol", which translates from Scottish Gaelic as "Nicholson's Leap". Legend was that a MacNeacail, for a certain crime, was sentenced by the chief of Lewis to be castrated. In revenge he ran off with the chief's only child to the ravine and leaped across the chasm. MacNeacail threatened to throw the child into the sea unless the chief himself agreed to be mutilated as well. Attempts at rescuing the child failed and the chief finally agreed to the mans terms. Just as the chief consented MacNeacail leaped over the cliff and into the sea with the child crying out in Gaelic. "I shall have no heir, and he shall have no heir".


The walk there is along a dirt track, then through rough moorland, heather, and lots of wet marsh. The cliffs can also be dangerous.

This is as close to the edge I dare go, it's hard to tell where the cliff goes down as it's obscured with heather.


The walk back to the main road, in the foreground is heather, in the distance you can see another sandy beach great in sunny weather.


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