Saturday, December 1, 2018

Isles to Be - Sulaisgeir

Another Isle to Be for me is Sulaisgeir, a small islet 10 miles west of North Rona. It is so exposed to the open sea that conditions need to be just right to get ashore. 

Adding to the difficulty of getting ashore is that there is no place to anchor. Someone has to man the ship, keeping it safely off the rocks, while someone else gets the passengers ashore on an inflatable. These photos show how close I came in 2011. 

The attractions of Sula are many; the remoteness, the large gannetry; and the ancient beehive cells, now used annually by the men of Ness when they come to harvest their allotted 2000 guga, the young gannets. Another attraction is literary, as Peter May made use of Sulaisgeir, and the guga hunt, in his book The Balckhouse.

One of the beehive cells was originally an oratory/chapel; similar to the 8th century oratory on nearby Rona - so it could be possible that Sula was a hermitage for the monastery on Rona. Sadly, the chapel's roof collapsed in 1984, and there is now no sign of the altar, reported to be there in the 1880s. Someday I hope to see Sula firsthand.

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