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Map of the Hebrides, showing the Minch
The Little Minch, view towards Loch na Madadh

The Minch (Scottish Gaelic An Cuan Sgìth, Cuan na Hearadh, An Cuan Leòdhasach), also called The North Minch, is a strait in north-west Scotland, separating the north-west Highlands, and the northern Inner Hebrides, from Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides. It was known as "Skotlandsfjörð" ("Scotland's fjord/firth") in Old Norse.[1]

The Lower Minch (an Cuan Canach), also called The Little Minch, is to the south and separates Skye from the lower Outer Hebrides: North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Barra etc. It opens into the Sea of the Hebrides. The combination of the Minch, the Sea of the Hebrides, and a stretch reaching Ireland constitutes the Inner Seas of the west coast of Scotland.[2]

The Minch and Lower Minch form part of the Inner Seas off the West Coast of Scotland, as defined by the International Hydrographic Organization[3].

The Minch ranges from 20 to 45 miles (30 to 70 km) wide and is approximately 70 miles (110 km) long. It is believed to be the site of the biggest meteorite ever to hit the British Isles.[4] The Lower Minch is about 15 miles (25 km) wide.

The Minch Project is a collaboration of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Highland Council and the Scottish Natural Heritage which aims to reduce pollution, minimise erosion, minimise litter and promote tourism — in particular wildlife tourism such as dolphin watching — in the Minch. Pollution is a particular concern as the Minch is a busy shipping lane — two and a half million tonnes of shipping pass through the channel each month.

Commercial ferry services across the Minch are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Anderson, Joseph (Ed.) (1893) Orkneyinga Saga. Translated by Jón A. Hjaltalin & Gilbert Goudie. Edinburgh. James Thin and Mercat Press (1990 reprint). ISBN 0-901824-25-9
  2. ^ IHO Spec. Pub. S-23 (3rd ed, 1953), Limits of Oceans and Seas, #18; also Draft 4th ed., 1986
  3. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. http://www.iho.shom.fr/publicat/free/files/S23_1953.pdf. Retrieved 19 December 2009.  
  4. ^ 'Biggest UK space impact found', BBC News.

Coordinates: 58°02′56″N 5°57′56″W / 58.0488185°N 5.9655762°W / 58.0488185; -5.9655762

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