Book 1: Inner Isles



Outline Map: Book 1 - Inner Isles

Contents: Book 1
Overture: Island Madness
I describe an obsession that has led me to dance alone on island mountaintops, jump off boats, and wallow through bogs. But before reading on, reader beware, the lure of the isles is strong, and you too may find yourself inexorably drawn to them, and then be forever trapped by the call of the islands that like to be visited.
―Part I: Firth of Clyde to the Slate Isles―
1: The Green Goddess of Eilean Molaise: Holy Island
On the Buddhist’s isle a deity is encountered standing watch over the cave of St Molaise. Before entering the cave I enjoy a drink from a holy well and sit atop the Judgement Stone.
2: Pursuing Ailsa and St Bey: Ailsa Craig & Wee Cumbrae
Two small isles lure me to Ayrshire. But once I’m there, they both play hard to get.
3: The Stone Throne of Càra
In his quest to ascend the throne of Càra, the king-to-be terrifies the local residents. But once enthroned his reign comes to an abrupt end when his island kingdom receives an unexpected visitor from the heavens.
4: Contemplating a drop into St Carmaig’s Cave: Eilean Mór
After finding St Carmaig in a fireplace, I consider jumping into his pit.
5: To Breckan’s Cave: Jura
Looking for a view of the whirlpool I get lazy and, tempting fate, do a stupid thing.
6: Into the Whirlpool: Scarba
A day on Scarba and a surprise spin through a churning Corryvreckan.
7: Maclean’s Skull: Isle of Jura
The whirlpool causes a course change on a journey to find where Maclean’s Skull once rested; then, years later, the skull returns.
8: The Isles of the Sea—Part 1: Eileach an Naoimh
After exploring the beehive cells of Aileach voices are heard coming from its underground prison; and I soon find myself in that dark cell beneath the earth, calling out to other unsuspecting souls afoot on St Brendan’s Rock of the Saint.
9: The Isles of the Sea—Part 2: Dùn Chonnuill & Garbh Eileach
After a victorious climb up the rock steps of the castle of Dùn Chonnuill I am defeated by the bracken jungle of Garbh Eileach.
10: The Gutted Isles: Belnahua & Fladda
Ashore on the plundered isle of slates and a walk through the walled garden of Fladda.

―Part II: Mull and its Satellites―
11: Walking the Waters from Hangman’s Rock: Oronsay
From atop Hangman’s Rock we watch the sea recede before crossing the strand to the ruins of Oronsay Priory. Before leaving Oronsay a climb is made to Carn Cùl ri Èirinn to take a look back towards Ireland.
12: A Pilgrimage to Inchkenneth
Getting to St Kenneth’s Isle with pen and paper.
13: Ewen’s Little Head: Mull
Come along on a nine-year walk to stand atop Gorrie’s Leap, visit Carsaig Arches, and search for the place where Ewen Maclaine lost his little head.
14: Three Days, Three Seasons: Ulva & Gometra
A winter trek to Gometra Harbour; a spring visit from the sea to search for the ruins of a lost village; and a summer hike past the Bay of Serpents to the burial ground of Kilvickeon.
15: Kidnap Isle: Erraid
We follow in the footsteps of David Balfour on Kidnap Isle.
16: The Other Iona
After paying my respects to the sheela-na-gig I search for a nugget of Iona marble. With a piece of the treasured rock in hand a visit is paid to Carn Cùl ri Èirinn to take another look back towards Ireland. Then, high atop Columba’s Isle I have to make a decision: take a drink from the Well of Eternal Youth, or have a beer.
17: Under Lunga and Inside the Island of the Green Ray
Not content just to be on islands, I find some to go under. Two walks into Fingal’s Cave and a crawl beneath Lunga six years in the making.
18: The Castles of Cairnaburg
Ponderings on the buried library of Iona while afoot on the once impregnable Cairnaburgs.

―Part III: Inland Isles―
19: St Kessog’s Isle: Inchtavannach of Loch Lomond
A climb to the top of the Hill of the Bell where St Kessog, Scotland’s warrior saint, and one of its first martyrs, tolled the faithful to service.
20: The Green Isle: Eilean Finnan of Loch Shiel
A return to a place of defeat to make good on a dear regret.
21: The White Isle: Eilean Bàn of Loch Morar
A canoe journey to the White Isle of Loch Morar — where Lord Lovat began his journey to meet the headsman at the Tower of London.

―Part IV: The Firth of Lorn to the Small Isles―
22: The Rings of Kerrera
Three walks on Kerrera to see its crowning jewels: Gylen Castle, the monastic ruins of Cladh a’ Bheàrnaig, and the view from atop the island.
23: An Isle of Graves: Eilean Munde
Afoot on the burial isle of the MacDonalds of Glencoe.
24: Inside Massacre Cave: Eigg
We crawl into the dark charnel house of Eigg — where a mother’s screams were heard in vain.
25: Any Dog Seen Off-Leash will be Shot: Rum, Eigg & Lismore
I am taught a hard lesson by the rivers of Rum; make an Eigg scramble on the Amazon’s isle; and hike past the lair of the monster A’ Mhórag. Four hikes through history — the last on Lismore, where seated atop the Bàrr Mór we ponder the fate of Deirdre of the Sorrows.
26: Seven Days, Seven Bags of Coal: Eigg
Eigg is ours for a week. We make the sands sing; fight fires; visit the Finger of God; and search for a lass that is more than merely good looking.
27: Isle of the Noble Yew: Bernera of Lismore
A visit to Bernera to find the site of Columba’s Noble Yew.
28: Return to Rum
A wet walk round Rum to visit Papidil of St Beccan and the oddest graves in the isles: the Greek temple-tomb of Harris.
29: A Descent to the Cashel under the Cliffs: Canna
After almost sliding down the cliffs, the day is saved by sheep. Following in their hoof-steps I descend to the most intriguing ruins in the Hebrides. Then the giddy crag is climbed: a task of doubt and fear, unless you’re a goat or mountain deer.

Index: Book 1

-A-
Ailsa Craig, 11, 12, 15-22, 40, 225, 256
Arran, 4, 5, 21

-B-
Barnett, T. Ratcliffe, xv, 40
Barra, xvii
Bass Rock, 12, 21
Bearasay, xix
Beehive Huts, xv, 21, 77-79, 164, 275, 276
Belnahua, 60, 78, 96-103
Bernera of the Yew, 261, 286-294
Berneray, 32
Black Isles, 99
Black, William, 291
Boswell, James, xiv, 115, 116, 118, 120

-C-
Cairn na Burghs, 122, 177-185
Campbell, Alexander, 85-87
Canna, 143, 249, 284, 308-311
Cara, 31-36
Carn a Chibir, 59
Carsaig, 124, 129-133
Colonsay, 60, 80, 93, 94, 96, 107, 108
Corryvreckan, 47, 51, 56-62, 64-69, 90, 95, 97, 113
Cruach Scarba, 59, 60
Cuchulainn, 76, 92, 262, 288

-D-
Dibidil, xvii, 251, 296
Donaldson, Mary Ethel Muir, xvi, 42, 109, 111, 272
Dubh Artach, xix, 153-156
Dun Chonnuil, 75, 88-93

-E-
Eigg, xiii, 205, 240-247, 253-257, 265-285
Eileach an Naoimh, 60, 75-84
Eilean Ban, 207-215, 257
Eilean Molaise, 4-10
Eilean Munde, 233-239
Erraid, 151-158, 285

-F-
Fladda, 77, 99-103

-G-
Garbh Eileach, 75, 76
Garvellachs, xvi, xviii, 75-95, 108, 291
Gemini, 39, 40, 44, 57, 61, 64, 65, 69, 90, 93, 97, 101
Gigha, 32, 34, 36
Gometra, xvii, xviii, 141-145, 171, 285
Gordon, Seton, xv, 127, 205
Great Cumbrae, 23, 24
Green Ray, 172, 173
Green Târâ, 3, 6, 10

-H-
Harp Rock, 171, 174, 175
Harris (Rum), xvii, 250, 295, 299, 308
Higgins, L.R., 170
Hinba, 38, 80
Holy Island, 4-10, 21

-I-
Inchconnachan, 193
Inchgalbraith, 193
Inchkenneth, xiv, 114-123
Inchtavannach, 189-199, 285
Iona, xiii, 113, 122, 124, 127, 151, 159-168, 177
Isle Finnan, 120, 200-206

-J-
Judgement Stone, 3, 4, 7, 8
Jura, 46-55, 57, 63-74, 80, 90 

-K-
Kerrera, 219-232

-L-
Lewis, xv
Lismore, 260-263, 286, 287
Little Bernera, 285
Little Cumbrae, xix, 11-14
Loch Buie, 183
Loch Lomond, 190, 194, 249
Luing, xviii, 76, 77
Lunga, xiv, 170, 171

-M-
MacCormaig Islands, 37
MacGregor, Alasdair Alpin, xiv, xv, 117
MacKillop, Don Alick (Splash), 32
Martin Martin, 51, 52, 67
Massacre Cave, 240-244, 282
Mealista, xix
Mingulay, 107
Monach Isles, 173
Muck, xiii, 249, 279-282
Muckle Flugga, xiii
Muldoanich, xix
Mull, xiii, xvii, xviii, 124-139

-O-
Oronsay, 60, 107-113, 286

-P-
Papadil, xvii, 250, 251, 295, 297-299, 301, 308
Poplar Diver, 143, 306, 309
Pouchin Mould DDC, xv

-R-
Raasay, xiv
Ringing Stone, 34
Rum, xiii, xvii, 4, 34, 249, 251-253, 284

-S-
Saint Kilda, xiii, xv
Saint Molaise’s Cave, 8, 9
Sanday, 310
Sandray, xix
Scarba, 49, 50, 56-62, 65, 79, 90, 93, 96, 97, 225, 291
Scarp, 285
Seil, xviii, 76, 87
Sheela na gig, 159-161, 224, 245, 246, 272
Shiant Isles, 143
Shillay, xviii
Skellig Michael, 78
Skerryvore, xix, 154
Skye, 79, 288
St Andrew, 199
St Beccan, 250, 295, 298, 308
St Bey, 13, 14, 25-28
St Brendan, 76
St Carmaig, xvi, 37-45
St Columba, 83, 164, 165
St Cormac, 38
St Donnan, 20, 244, 270, 272, 273, 282, 285
St Finla, 34
St Finnan, 200, 201, 205, 206, 242, 280
St Kenneth, 114, 115, 119
St Kessog, 192-194, 197-199
St Maelrubha, 39, 58
St Mahee, 193
St Marnock, 228
St Mary, 58
St Maura, 13, 30
St Michael, 195-197
St Molaise, 3, 7, 21
St Moluag, 287-290
St Taran, xv, 296
Staffa, xiv, 143, 167, 169, 170, 172-174
Strait of the Grey Dog, 90, 91

-T-
Taghairm, 79
Taransay, xv, 296
Tiree, xvii, 34, 46, 179
Treshnish Isles, xiv, 122, 143, 167, 169-185

-U-
Uig (Lewis), 285
Ulva, xvii, xviii, 121, 124, 140-142, 145-150, 171

-W-
Water-horse, 276

-Y-
Yell, xiii

-Z-
Zuza, 302