Posted by: Rory Brown | May 10, 2008

The Summer Isles, Loch Broom

View out to Tanera from Achiltibuie

From our house in Achiltibuie we look directly out over the Summer Isles in Loch Broom. This is a collection of 12-15 islands, only one of which is currently inhabited. Sunsets over the islands are spectacular.

Tanera Mhor – the biggest of the islands and closest to Achiltibuie. It is famous for issuing its own stamps and for being the site of Fraser Darling’s book, Island Farm. There is currently a fish farm operating from the island but nothing compared to the days of the big herring fleets when Tanera was a thriving fishing and processing site. You can stop at the island when you take a trip on Hectoria around the islands & there is a cafe, post office to buy stamps & cottages available to rent.

Tanera Beag – ‘little Tanera’ in the shadow of the larger island. The channel between the islands is home to a large colony of seals.

Horse Island – the island close to the coast as you travel through Achiltibuie towards Polglass and Badenscalie. Horse island was once inhabited but is now just home to a herd of wild goats. This was always the one which I wanted to visit most as a kid. This was probably due to the old rumour of a Spanish gold dubloon having been found by a shepherd on the island. The tale was that farmers used to ferry their sheep over to the island for summer grazing. One farmer, on return to the mainland took off his boot and a spanish gold coin fell out of it. I spite of several return visits no further treasure was found. There are several similar rumours around this part of Scotland and they stem from remnants of the Spanish Armada being wrecked here on their way home after having been beaten by the English. I think there were references to the McRodriquez clan in Hamish Macbeth.

Isle Martin – the closest of the Summer Isles to Ullapool and now owned and managed by a community trust. It is a recognised bird sanctuary. There are history walks arranged during the summer. Details in the Ullapool News. There is also a croft house for rent (no electricity & you have to be ferried over there) but details can be obtained from Sheila Didcock 01854 612937.

Priest Island – one of the most remote of the Summer Isles. It is believed the island was used by culdees for religious purposes.

There are several other islands in the group of varying sizes and there are tours that can be arranged from both Achiltibuie and Ullapool. Well worth doing if you’re staying in the area.

One final thing for anyone who has seen the film the Wicker Man. You will remember that this was set on the fictional island Summerisle. Any big bonfires at night and you know what is going on..

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