On October 2, 1773, Johnson and Boswell's tour of the Western Isles is still situated at Skye. Boswell records an observation on the state of emigration from Skye: '...Mrs M'Kinnon told me, that last year when a ship sailed from Portree for America, the people onshore were almost distracted when they saw their relations go off; they lay down on the ground, tumbled, and tore the grass with their teeth. This year there was not a tear shed. The people on shore seemed to think that they would soon follow. This indifference is a mortal sign for the country...'
Walter Scott also published a book on the Western Isles, which was based on letters written by John MacCulloch, a Scottish geologist, to Walter Scott. "The Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland" was published in 1824, based on correspondence between the years 1811 - 1821. Included, is this description of the Portree area:
'The coast-line of Sky is almost every where rocky, and, very commonly, rude and wild. From Strathaird, all the way round by the west to Portree, it is, with a few exceptions in the lochs, a continued range of cliffs, ofteu rising to three, four, or even to six hundred feet; in a few cases, exceeding even this height. The remainder is rarely very high; but it is every where rocky, and interspersed with headlands and small bays or sinuosities. The rivers are of no note; and, excepting Coruisk, Loch Creich, and Loch Colmkill, there are no lakes that deserve a much higher name than pools. Loch na Caplich is the only one of those that is worthy of notice; and it is rendered so by containing that rare plant the Eriocaulon, known, as a British plant, here only, till I found it in Coll.
The north-east coast, from Portree, is a perfect storehouse of geology. It is not very good seamanship, I admit, to put all the ballast in one boat and all the sail in another; but having nearly foundered under the weight of my last literary and scientific cargo, I have determined to throw all the lumber overboard now, and to carry all the sail I can. Perhaps you may think me overmasted, and in want of a reef now and then; and I will therefore throw you in a hundred weight of ballast at present, as a great favour.'