Broadford, Skye

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Overlooking Broadford village
Broadford is located in Isle of Skye
Broadford shown within the Isle of Skye
Population est. 620[1] (2006)
OS grid reference NG642234
Civil parish
  • Strath
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ISLE OF SKYE
Postcode district IV49
Dialling code 01471
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
57°14′28″N 5°54′25″W / 57.241°N 5.907°W / 57.241; -5.907Coordinates: 57°14′28″N 5°54′25″W / 57.241°N 5.907°W / 57.241; -5.907

Broadford (Scottish Gaelic: An t-Àth Leathann), together with nearby Harrapool, is the second-largest settlement on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Broadford is within the parish of Strath.[2]


Like many places in Skye, Broadford derives its name from Old Norse. To the Norsemen this was Breiðafjorðr - the wide bay.[3] The Gaelic name is of modern derivation and assumes that the "ford" element meant a river crossing.[4]

West of Broadford in Glen Suardal, on the lower slopes of Beinn na Caillich, is Goir a' Bhlàir, 'the field of battle' (grid reference NG624234 [5]). The battle concerned was apparently a decisive action by the Gaelic Clan Mackinnon against the Norsemen.[5]

Broadford was a cattle market until 1812, when Telford built the road from Portree to Kyleakin. Veterans of the Napoleonic Wars settled during the first half of the 19th century. Writing in the middle of the 19th century, Alexander Smith said, "If Portree is the London of Skye, Broadford is its Manchester."[6]

Legend holds that the recipe for the liqueur Drambuie was given by Bonnie Prince Charlie to Clan MacKinnon who then passed it onto James Ross late 19th century. Ross ran the Broadford Inn (now the Broadford Hotel), where he developed and improved the recipe, initially for his friends and then later to patrons. Ross then began to sell it further afield and the name was registered as a trademark in 1893.[7][8]


Beinn na Caillich and Goir a' Bhlàir from Broadford

Broadford lies on the south-west corner of Broadford Bay, on the A87 between Portree and the Skye Bridge. The settlement is overlooked by the eastern Cuillins, Broadford is in a beautiful tranquil area as well as having many services available.


The mineral harkerite was first found near Broadford by the geologist Alfred Harker.[9] The areas around Broadford, Kilbride and Torrin are renowned for their fantastic exposures of Tertiary intrusive geology. The area is famous for university undergraduate dissertation mapping.


A variety of marine life can be seen at Broadford Bay including otters[10] and occasionally orca whales.[10]

Birds that can sometimes be spotted at the bay include the whooper swan,[11][12] brent goose,[11][12] red-throated diver[11][12] and the black-tailed godwit.[11][12]


Broadford is a key service centre for southern Skye. Services include the Co-op supermarket combined with a 24-hour Gulf Oil garage, a few restaurants (including the Broadford Hotel, Claymore, Dunollie Hotel, Hebridean Hotel and Red Skye), and a youth hostel. The local hospital, the Mackinnon Memorial Hospital, has a small ward and casualty department.


Panorama from Broadford pier


The A87 travels through Broadford, on its route from Invergarry to Uig.[13] The A851 begins at a junction with the A87, towards the east end of Broadford, and continues to Armadale.[14] Meanwhile, the B8083 begins at a junction with the A87 at the western end of Broadford, and continues to Elgol.[15] There is also a coastal road, (a left turn at Killbride) which can be found halfway along the B8083, this takes you down to a viewpoint at Loch Slapin. Public are able to catch either the 155 or 55 bus along this road.


There are two piers within the vicinity of Broadford. One is at the east end of the village by the war memorial, the other and larger at Corry, at the north west end of the bay.[16] It's common to see rainbows over Broadford bay, caused by the high moisture content of the air above it.


Broadford Airfield (IATA: SKL; ICAO: EGEI) is located at nearby Ashaig. The single asphalt runway is 793 m (2,602 ft) in length and oriented at 07/25.

In popular culture[edit]

  • There is a song by the rock band Jethro Tull called "Broadford Bazaar" (on the remastered version of the Heavy Horses album) which is named after this town.
  • There is also a song entitled 'The Trip to Broadford' on the 1990 album Room to Roam by The Waterboys.


  1. ^ "Table 1: Mid-2006 Population Estimates - Settlements in alphabetical order". General Register Office for Scotland. Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2008. 
  2. ^ "Details of Broadford". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Gammeltoft, Peder "Scandinavian Naming-Systems in the Hebrides—A Way of Understanding how the Scandinavians were in Contact with Gaels and Picts?" in Ballin Smith et al (2007) p. 484
  4. ^ Iain Mac an Tàilleir. "Placenames" (PDF). Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Site Record for Skye, Goir A' Bhlair, Broadford, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, retrieved 3 November 2013 
  6. ^ Smith, Alexander (1865). A Summer in Skye. Boston: Ticknor and Fields. pp. 98–105. 
  7. ^ "The Broadford Hotel is The Original Home of Drambuie". Retrieved 29 Dec 2010. 
  8. ^ "A new Dawn". Drambuie. Archived from the original on 7 November 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Livingstone, Alec (2002). Minerals of Scotland. Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland. 
  10. ^ a b "Sightings". Archived from the original on 21 July 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Bird sightings on the Island of Skye and the neighbouring area". Skye Birds. Retrieved 18 October 2009. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Skye section on". Retrieved 18 October 2009. [dead link]
  13. ^ "A87 route". Sabre. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "A851". Sabre. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "B8083". Sabre. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  16. ^ Get-a-map (Map). Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Ballin Smith, Beverley; Taylor, Simon; Williams, Gareth (eds) (2007) West Over Sea: Studies in Scandinavian Sea-Borne Expansion and Settlement Before 1300. Leiden. Koninklijke Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-15893-1

External links[edit]