17. Easdale

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A flooded quarry (c) Duncan Hutt
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The island’s tail? (c) Sally Hutt

Easdale is an island full of holes.  A slate island which owes its whole character to its history of mining which has being going on for centuries but in a formal way from the 18th century.  It’s a small island full of holes and yet must have one of the highest population densities of any Scottish island.  The small slate mining ‘village’ clusters around the eastern side and while so different from the slate mining days it retains a unique character with small paths between houses and green spaces and no cars.

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The Puffer Bar, Easdale (c) Duncan Hutt

It’s a fairly well connected island, as while the ferry is tiny, it runs from 7am to about 9pm or later on a Friday and Saturday; it’s a short hop of a couple of minutes or so from Seil.  Last time we visited they were attempting to balance a quad bike on the miniature ferry, this time the main concern seemed to be in trying to get the ticket machines to work.  We arrived fairly late but in plenty of time to drop bags in the tiny bunkhouse and make it back to the island’s pub, the Puffer Bar.  This provided us with a great lunch the following day as well as an evening retreat again.

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The village (c) Duncan Hutt
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Grayling (c) Duncan Hutt

A walk around Easdale doesn’t take long.  Even taking in the ‘High Hill’ it’s not going to take all day.  The ‘High Hill’ is a little under 40m and so is high only in relative terms to the rest of the island.  The circuit leads past water filled chasms, some a deep grey blue colour, others breached by the sea forming bays and inlets.  Old powder houses, and boiler houses are little more than ruins and small walled off areas are full of ragwort or willowherb except for a couple of well-tended allotments in the island’s centre.  A few butterflies braved the declining weather, meadow brown, green-veined white and the more coastal specialist the grayling with its ability to drop and disappear as it sits with wings folded blending in to its background.

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An Easdale allotment (c) Duncan Hutt

We’d managed the walk in the fine and relatively bright morning but after a trip back to Seil we returned just as the first rain came.  By the time lunch was consumed it was pouring, the start of about 24 hours of deluge!  We sheltered in the interesting little museum for a while, retreated to our accommodation and the bar to avoid getting wet.  As we left on the following morning everything was grey and wet and the ferrymen in their full waterproofs epitomised the morning ahead.

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Leaving Easdale in the rain (c) Sally Hutt

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