Kerrera,Seil Island and Easdale March 2013
Helen Rose Hill Diary
I am trying to visit most of the islands around Scotland as they are all so different in character. During the winter I managed to visit three islands over a weekend based in Oban on the west coast of Scotland and about three hours travel from Glasgow. The weekend was cold but we had good views on the trips.
From outside Oban we took the little ferry over to the Island of Kerrera which sits in the Firth of Lorne. It has fertile low pastures where the farming tradition goes back hundreds of years – to bog and heathland, small coastal bays and beaches with cliffs and caves. There is a path running around the island and we followed it from the pier in a clockwise direction. Our first stop off was Gylen Castle, located on the south coast. It was built in 1587 and sited above the rocks; it is a dramatic and magnificent place looking down the Firth of Lorne and to other Argyll islands. We followed the path around to the north of the island and left the path to climb to the highest point on Carn Breugach at 620 feet. Kerrera is also famous as the place where King Alexander the second died in 1289. The path continued south to the coastline with dramatic sea views and back to the pier. The distance on the path was about eight miles so made a good day out. From our B&B in Oban, we had good views of Kerrera.
The following day, we drove over the Atlantic Bridge to Seil Island. This bridge is only a small stone affair but does cross over the Atlantic Ocean, albeir very narrow at that point! We drove on to the village of Ellenabeich where we took the very small power boat over to Easdale which like Seil Island has a history of slate quarrying. As we were a small group, the curator opened the island museum for us. It has a fascinating history. At the peak of the industry in the second half of the 19th century the population was in excess of 500. A storm in 1881 flooded the quarries, and thereafter the industry declined until the last slate was cut in the 1950’s. By the early 1960’s the population had dwindled to only 4. However, since then the population has steadily increased and most of the dwelling houses have now been reconstructed and modernised. We had a walk around the island and up to the highest point looking out to neighbouring islands and the Atlantic. The Puffer Tearoom is highly recommended! By the way, Easdale is the home every year of the World Stone Skimming Championships. Check it out on www.stoneskimming.com
Crossing back to Seil Island and the village which gets its name from the former slate island within proximity of the village, called Eilean nam Beitheach. The island was mined out of existence and its name is now the current Scottish Gaelic name of the village. The houses have a very dramatic backdrop of cliffs from the quarry. We walked around the village before driving to the very comfortable and welcoming Tigh-an-Truish Inn on Seil Island for a wee libation before the drive back to Glasgow. We earned the libation as we had walked over to Otter Bay which is renowned for sailors landing to go over to the Inn!
In Oban we had visited the ruin of Dunollie Castle, the stronghold of the MacDougalls and strategically placed on a headland. The restaurants on the pier were very good and have an excellent reputation for fish. In the short weekend, we had enjoyed the visits to the three islands and the town of Oban famous for the seafood. The hand dived scallops there are the best I have ever tasted.
The trip was arranged by Fred Chatterton at www.scot-trek.co.uk
Coming attractions; Dumyat and Coll
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