19. Torsa

Looking south from the north end of Torsa with our interisland transport (c) Duncan Hutt

There isn’t much on Torsa, a small island with an old farm now used as a holiday house.  Sheep and Luing cattle graze almost every corner of the island which stands relatively bare compared to nearby islets without that grazing pressure.

The channel between Torsa and Luing (c) Duncan Hutt

The map seems to show such a narrow gap between Luing and  Torsa that it should be rather easy to visit however the reality is that some sort of boat is needed most of the time, at least.  The nearest road, to Ardinamir on Luing, lead to a sheltered bay where a handful of boats were moored.  This is certainly an area to be cautious of currents, the tide sweeps out through narrow channels and around island promontories.  One moment all is calm the next a torrent of water is gushing one way or another.  Cautiously at around high tide we launched our little canoe to get to Torsa.  We were drawn through the narrow channel, not by the tide as it was just flowing a little against us, but by a curiosity to get around to the west coast, the steep edge of the island where the slope is just a little shallow to be a proper cliff.  Sheep gathered in places along the shore as the tide took us gently north.  We picked a small bay near the tip of the island to land for a short break and to get our bearings, a tiny rocky peak drawing us in.

The lone sycamore and castle rock to its right (c) Duncan Hutt
Polypody fern and a Ramalina lichen on the old ruin (c) Duncan Hutt

One sycamore tree stood to the east by a small ruin, this old structure had been adapted at some later date as a sheep dip; concrete structures imposed on the old island building.  Ferns and lichens clung to the walls while a painted lady and small tortoiseshell butterfly enjoyed the shelter.  We looked out to the east coast with a little concern, the tide should be helping us south but a fresh wind had picked up and was blowing against the flow adding a choppiness to the water as well as an awkward headwind.  A west coast return would be against the tide the east against the wind. We opted for the wind.

Caisteal nan Con (c) Duncan Hutt

Our next landing point was barely 100m from the ruins but much further around the coast, we had a taste of the sea conditions before stopping to visit the only historic feature marked on the maps.  Caisteal nan Con is a 16th century hunting lodge though only a small amount of the masonry still exists.  We climbed up behind to a high point of the island from which we spotted two large birds by the edge of one of the conifer plantations of the east coast.  They hung on the air then dropped only to soar back up into the grey skies.  A white flash on the tail revealed them to be a pair of sea eagles.  We watched for a while until they drifted a little too far out of sight.

A boat carving on a rock? (c) Duncan Hutt

Back on the shore a rock on the beach caught my eye, a shape, a shape of a boat?  Torsa is known for some boat carvings and other engravings on the rocks, was this one?

The canoe back down the east coast was a slog, slow progress against the wind and waves, we carried the craft over the most exposed eastern extremity of the island just in view of the holiday cottage. With wind and tide a little kinder where we relaunched, the trip back to our start point was a relatively easy going finish.

P1070201 (2)
The holiday cottage from the shore (c) Sally Hutt

1 thought on “19. Torsa

  1. More interesting than most of the islands, with its hilly and rocky nature.


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