Sunday, August 6, 2023

Twilight on Taransay

There is something special about an early morning, or early evening landing, on a deserted island. The slanting rays of the sun give the terrain an added dimension of depth and color.  

Adding to the uniqueness is that these shore trips, before breakfast, or after dinner, are few and far between. I last wrote of such an experience in 2019, when during a trip down the west of Ireland we went ashore for an early morning walk on Iniskea North. (You can see those photos on the November 7, 2019 post.)

And so, on a Hebridean cruise in June, I was delighted when the skipper offered up an evening stroll on Taransay. Some of these photos show the ruin of the nineteenth century Taigh Geal na h-Uidhe, the white house of Uidhe. Originally two-storeys high, with a roof of Ballachulish slate, the house was built for John MacDonald, the Taransay tacksman in the nineteenth century. The structure turned out to be unstable, so the gables were knocked down, and the slates taken for use on a building in Tarbert.

The shell of the house still stands in the form of a single-storey, tin-roofed bothy, refurbished by the Mountain Bothies Association in the 1980s. (They no longer maintain the bothy.) Many years had passed since I last entered the bothy. On that previous visit in 2011, there was a two-burner propane stove sitting atop a slim table and a half dozen fishnet hammocks hung from the rafters. There were several fishing crates stacked in the cooking area, each holding an assortment of worn utensils. Except for two items, an adjacent shelf was bare. The two items it proudly held were a crusty salt shaker and a faded jar of Marmite. Stamped on the Marmite label was EXP: 7/2008. I've never been a Marmite fan, let alone when it's been fermenting for three years.

When I entered the bothy in June I found it to be a sad wreck, The door was gone, and the inside was a complete mess. But, if you wanted to spend the night, the fishnet hammocks were still there.

Before returning to the ship, I paid a visit to St Taran's cross. The incised cross on the standing stone has faded over the years, but you can still make it out. It was a delight to see in in the twilight, but I will never forget how it looked on a sunny afternoon, twenty years ago (last photo).


  1. Hi Marc. Missing your posts. Hope all is OK.

    1. All is well, thanks for asking. I have been working with a publisher for the past few months to complete my next book. I will be posting on that shortly.