18. Luing

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Cullipool houses (c) Duncan Hutt

It was raining as we took the ferry over Cuan Sound, sharing it with a damp but diligent ferry dog. Wet roads welcomed us onto Luing, and it would continue to rain into the early afternoon, either it was heavy rain or it was heavy drizzle.  At least it’s warm was one comment on the day and that couldn’t be denied – this was warm heavy rain rather than the horizontal sleet that could have come in winter.  The weather meant that the morning exploration of the island was largely done from the car, a trip that took us on pretty much every bit of public road on Luing.

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Atlantic Islands Centre, Luing (c) Duncan Hutt

The Atlantic Islands Centre in Cullipool formed our base for the day – a morning coffee started the day off and we returned for a slightly late lunch too.  The exhibitions told of lighthouses and slate, lost steamer piers and ancient rock carvings of boats.

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The old steamer pier on Luing (c) Duncan Hutt

So to Blackmill Bay passing the old ruined watermill on the way down the spine road of the island.  Blackmill Bay was dark and gloomy in the drizzle, a quiet spot now but once the island hub where coastal steamers called with people and goods, the small waiting room remains along with a broken down part of the pier.

Back over to the small slate mining village of Toberonochy, small white terraces of houses that are indicative of these slate mining places, Cullipool, Ellanbeich, Easdale and here.  A pleasant small harbour on the sheltered side of the island but not much to hold us on a wet day.

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boat carvings at Kilchatten church (c) Sally Hutt

The small ruined chapel at Kilchattan sits amongst graves both old and modern.  But it’s the ancient carvings on the building that brought us here.  As the drizzle swept past the dim light on the damp walls picked out the shapes of boats and crosses marked into stones.  There seems some disagreement as to the age of these but they depict ancient Hebridean craft.

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Slate quarry at Cullipool (c) Sally Hutt

We dropped back to Cullipool and had a couple of walks on the shore as the rain began to clear.  First up into the quarries, vast cliffs where the slate had been removed, the coastal quarry track now washed partly into the sea.  Next a short walk from the small island shop that would look more in place on some south coast seafront.  The islands to the west were slowly emerging from the gloom, the lighthouse on Fladda and the now abandoned slate island of Belnahua.  Closer at hand a creature was swimming in the bay, as it dived the long tail showed it to be an otter, we watched as it twisted, dived and hunted eventually making off for a rocky promontory to consume its latest meal.

No ferry dog that evening but it joined us again for our trip the following day as we made our way to Torsa.

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Ferry dog on the Luing Ferry (c) Sally Hutt

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