Thursday, November 20, 2014

Scenes from Hyskeir

As you can see in this Google Earth image, the Hyskeir (Oigh-Sgeir) skerries are a set of five reefs.

Google Earth view of Hyskier
Hyskier lies six miles southwest of Canna, and it took three attempts, over a period of ten years before I was able to get there. It is an extremely difficult anchorage, and if there is any significant swell it can be dangerous to get ashore. Although if you are lucky, and the sea is dead calm, you can land at the quay, which lies on the east side of the north-south gap between the lighthouse island and the last reef to the west (left of image).

The 128 foot lighthouse started operating in 1904, and was automated in 1997. The lightkeepers had a small garden and a 3-hole golf course. That successful third attempt to get ashore was in 2013, when we landed in a small inlet just north of the lighthouse. 

Hyskeir Light seen from the east
Hyskier seen from the northeast
Hyskier Light (1904)
Four of the five reefs were once connected by three small bridges. Two of them have washed away, but the one that connects the lighthouse island to the reef on its east side is still intact.

The one remaining bridge
I wanted to cross over all the reefs to see the foghorn building that stands on the eastern-most reef. Fortunately the tide was low, and it was easy to step across the first of the other two narrow channels whose bridges had been washed away. But the second crossing required taking my boots off and getting wet.

One of the washed-away bridges
The eastern-most reef is also the largest. It had several sections of what look like cement stepping stones (next photo) that crossed some of the many pools that dot the reef. I believe these once supported a pipeline used to transport fuel pumped ashore from the eastern landing.

Old pipeline supports? 
From there a final stretch of cement pathway leads to the foghorn.

To the foghorn
Foghorn building (where's the horn?) - Rum in the distance
From the foghorn there is a good view back across all of Hyskier to the lighthouse. It had taken me almost all of my allotted time ashore to reach the foghorn, and a glance at the watch told me I needed to be back at the lighthouse in five minutes. It took ten, and I felt bad about that, as the falling tide made it very difficult to launch the fully loaded RIB. Mark Henrys (our skipper) had to get out and push while some of us used the oars to pole-out. 

View west from the east end of Hyskier
It was fascinating to see this remote place where men once lived, but my best memory was watching the 40 seals taking it easy in a sheltered inlet on the south side of the middle skerry.

Seal haven


  1. Hi Marc,

    could you send me an email so I can give you a ring about this island. I was planning a visit myself.

  2. John, please see the 'About' tab for contact info.