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Lights, camera, adventure! Filming Macbeth on Isle of Skye

Skye is no stranger to Hollywood. A stunning landscape of jagged and majestic hills tearing through misty skies and crystal-clear waters, this ethereal and mysterious destination holds a fascination for artists and writers from around the world. So it’s hardly surprising that film director Justin Kurzel chose the Isle of Skye as the main filming location for Macbeth,  which stars Michael Fassbender as the titular fearless warrior and Marion Cotillard as the compelling Lady Macbeth.

Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy is known for its gruesome murders and ghastly death scenes complete with bloody battles. But the settings for these bloody acts displayed on screen are in fact tranquil and even more spectacular in real life. See for yourself!

The QuiraingThe Quiraing © Kenny Lam VisitScotland blogSituated at the north end of the Trotternish Ridge, near the village of Staffin, is the rugged and imposing landscape called the Quiraing. As weird as it is wonderful, this landscape of unusual rock formations encircles Staffin Bay, rising high above in contrast to the soft beauty of the bay. The most famous of the formations are The Needle, a spire of jagged rock; The Prison, a ridge which, if seen from the correct angle, resembles a castle keep with corner guard towers; and The Table, an incongruous green-clad plateau nestled in the Quiraing rocks. Explore the area and sense the eeriness and foreboding atmosphere that oozes from this place.

It is in this dramatic setting that Macbeth’s army is seen returning home post-battle and where Macbeth is awarded the title, Thane of Cawdor. Lady Macbeth also journeys through this unique landscape on her way to her home village.

The Old Man of StorrThe Old Man of Storr © Kenny Lam / VisitScotlandNowhere is the Trotternish Ridge more impressive than at the Old Man of Storr. This exceptionally beautiful and alien-looking large pinnacle of crumbling rock is arguably Britain’s most unique landscape and one of the most photographed in the world. And understandably so! Dominating the road north from Portree into the Trotternish Peninsula, the peak boasts spectacular views from atop, with the panorama spanning loch, sea and islands to the high mountains of the mainland. But despite the ruggedness of the landscape, the walk to get here is by no means a scary scramble– just don’t attempt to scale the summit itself!

The Old Man of Storr features in a scene of Macbeth riding towards the battlefield.

Sligachan GlenSligachan Glen Isle of SkyeLying in the shadow of the foreboding and atmospheric Sgurr Nan Gillean, Sligachan glen divides the Red and Black Cuillin peaks. Ride or walk through the heart of the Cullin Hills to best appreciate the magnificent beauty of the area. The glen is quite isolated being located many miles from the nearest town, but even getting to Sligachan from the Skye Bridge is an unforgettable experience, with the road winding thought big hills to the very centre of the island.

It’s this extraordinary setting where Lady Macduff and her children meet their untimely ends.

Glen Brittle Forest & The Fairy PoolsThe Fairy Pools Isle of SkyeIf you’re looking for a satisfying day out and the weather is unsuitable for exploring the mountains, Glen Brittle forest is a great option. High above it is a large area of mature woodland with a great circuit of forest roads to explore. Just south east of Glen Brittle Forest and about two miles before you reach Glen Brittle beach itself are the Fairy Pools, a series of bright blue, flowing pools on the River Brittle. Enclosed by the natural stone wall, the pools have a shape of a perfect oval bath tub, enjoying an unparalleled view of waterfalls which gently cascade into the crystalline azure waters. Believe us – the sound and sight of the rushing waters of the pools is simply enchanting.

One of the most pivotal moments of the film, when Banquo is slain on Macbeth’s order, takes place in this expanse of mature woodland overlooking the majestic Cuillin ridge.

Isle of Skye

Skye is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland. It is renowned for its spectacular scenery of big, rocky mountains, lush green valleys and seductive sandy shorelines, and offers vibrant culture and history, plenty of wildlife, geology, hillwalking and a variety of other outdoor activities.

Situated off the west coast of mainland Scotland, Skye’s landscape is distinctly Highland with its lochs, heather-clad moors and towering peaks. Despite its small size, the island boasts an impressive 12 Munros which make the island a favourite with hillwalkers keen to tackle the heights of its Cuillin mountain range.

Has this whetted your appetite for set-jetting yet? Find out more about film locations in Scotland.

Learn more about Macbeth: The Man, Myth & Legend.