Saturday, June 25, 2016

Back to Belnahua

My cruise on Elizabeth G last month included a bit of island time-travelling, as we visited several islands I'd not set foot on for a very long time. One was Belnahua of the Slate Isles, which I'd last been on in 2004 (see book 1, chapter 10). The island has not changed much in the intervening 12 years, the only difference was a white-washed cottage that appeared to be intended as a visitors centre. No one was around, and the cottage was locked. 

Passengers from Elizabeth G at the 'Visitors Centre'
Belnahua was a slate quarry in the 19th century. The population peaked at about 100 people, but it was abandoned in 1915. The remains of several  houses, a school, and a powerhouse lie scattered about the island.

Quarry worker's housing
Belnahua is an amazing place, a 100 year-old frozen snapshot in time of a long dead industry. Unless you have your own boat, the only way to get here is either a day-charter out of Easdale, or as part of a longer cruise around the Inner Hebrides. If you are interested in Belnahua and the Slate Isles be sure to read The Islands that Roofed the World by Mary Withall. 

Elizabeth G at Belnahua (flooded quarry in the foreground)

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