Island of Gigha March 2007


Isle of Gigha                             March 2007


Helen Rose Hilldiary


The Isle of Gigha lies off the west coast of Scotland and is easily reached by a short boat ride from Tayinloan on the Mull of Kintyre to the south west of Glasgow. This year is of particular significance to the island as it is five years since the community buyout from the last private owner. I visited the island in January and had a very enjoyable and enlightening trip. More information is available on 

Gigha means God’s Island and it has certainly been blessed as one of the most successful community buyouts in Scotland. Of particular interest is the modest windfarm which is connected to the National grid and not only produces enough energy for the island’s needs but also exports it producing a healthy profit.

We arrived on Friday afternoon from a windswept ferry and our luggage was collected and taken to the Isle of Gigha Hotel. It was a short walk to the hotel past a small sandy beach and the primary school which now has a healthy roll of 29 pupils. There is small cairn at the junction of the road made from stones depicting the many countries of visitors to the island such is the widespread fame of the island. The hotel is warm and comfortable and is owned by the community. We spent the evening in the bar with the locals after a very good meal in the hotel. The local people were warm and friendly although with many tales to tell on the history of the Island but they did beat us at a game of darts!

On Saturday the local shopkeeper drove us to the north of the island on the one road and we explored north and south bays at the narrowest part of the island. Some even chose to go paddling in the Atlantic Ocean, very cold at this time of year despite being on the Gulf Stream. We walked back down the road passing an interesting rock known locally as the Devil’s Tooth and climbed up to Ud Creag Dhan, the highest point on the island, with good views over toward Campeltown. On a clear day it is possible to see over to Northern Ireland. The road carried on passed the Golf Course and the club house resembling a small hut. Even on small islands in Scotland you will find golf courses but don’t expect Turnberry standards! This walk brought us back to the hotel in time for lunch.

We spent the time left of the afternoon walking to the old Kirk where Sir James Horlick is buried. Horlick is a famous night time drink and the owner of the brand  was a previous owner of the island. We carried on the walk uphill to view a stone with ancient writing on it. In 1263, King Haakon of Norway brought ships to the Island on the way to the Battle of Largs. The only criticism I have of the development of the island is the new housing developments which are built in a very regimented fashion. I appreciate with the growth of the population there was an urgent need for housing development but is it is not sympathetic to the landscape.

On Sunday morning we visited Achamore House with the gardens originally developed by Horlick in 1944. The camellias were just coming into bloom, much earlier than Glasgow as there is a mild micro climate here with the proximity of the Gulf Stream.


Before catching the ferry back to Tayinloan, we had time for a quick trip to the local art gallery and a visit to the village shop to buy Gigha Cheese made from the local cow’s milk ferried over to Campbeltown daily to be made into cheese. The island cannot presently support a creamery but possibly in future with all the rapid development……… 

 I hope I have inspired you to visit Gigha as it is a credit to the achievement of the local people who want to develop the tourism to the island.  It is a lovely, friendly place to visit and not too far from Glasgow. It is also possible to take a bicycle over on the ferry as there is little traffic on the one road.


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