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Showing posts from April, 2014

Craigmaddie blues

A long winter and finally my favourite local venue is dry...

The Isle of Gigha

The maritime sliver of schist and quartzite that is the Isle of Gigha is an island of two coasts: a sheltered riviera of sandy bays on the east and a weathered and hardened west coast facing the Atlantic between Kintyre and the Oa of Islay. The central ridge of the island is wooded on the lee side and shelters most of the community around the hub of Ardminish and the old wooded Achamore.

For climbers, the best trail is the west coast from the south pier to the summit of Creag Bhan, which is a day-long walk between ferries with some good climbing and bouldering, largely underdeveloped. The northern island of Eilean Garbh has some steep crags for sport-heads and a remarkable tombolo beach, polluted to hell with plastic on the drift side but postcard-perfect on the lee side.

Walk up from the pier to the village shop at Ardminish, turn left and south past the hotel to the south of the island, past Achamore gardens and Gigha windfarm - the ‘dancing ladies’, four windmills as of 2014, 3 o…

The Lost Township of Grulin on Eigg

‘The Stony Place’ as it translates, the archaeological notes on the RCAHMS database for Eigg, state baldly the lost humanity of Grulin as early as an 1880 OS survey map: ‘…eighteen unroofed buildings, six enclosures and a field-system’. Now a scheduled monument and memorialised as a ‘depopulated settlement’, though it is not obvious if the verb is passive or aggressive, Grulin Uachdrach (Grulin Upper) is, like Hallaig on Raasay, a place of violent silence and resonance.

Who lived here and why was the site abandoned? If it were not in Scotland, suspicions might fall to the climate, remoteness and apparent unsustainability of the stony place, a rabble of large rocks under the steep slopes of An Sgurr, but the carefully constructed walls tell us it was once a thriving township – the kilns, folds and blackhouse walls integrated with the giant boulders such as Clach Hosdail. In 1853 the whole of the village of Grulin, both upper and lower, housed fourteen families who were forced to leave…