He returned to Scotland in 1841 and settled on the Isle of Skye, lodging with the Cameron family at Bosville Terrace in Portree. His scientific interests turned to astronomy and a study of the aurora borealis. In 1843 and 1845, he was joined by his friend, James Forbes, a glaciologist. Together, they made the first accurate map of the Cuillins.
He spent his later life mountaineering and collecting ornithological specimens. He died in Portree on 20 November 1861. He is buried next to the Cameron family in the Portree churchyard.[8