Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Island Macaskin

The problem with planning a kayaking weekend a few weeks in advance is the weather: just what will the weather be like. With this in mind, Plan A: Easdale to the Garvellachs ; Plan B: parking area at Graignish Point then round through Dorus Mor, then see what happens. At this planning stage there was no plan C. The weather forecast was NW/W 5-7, plan A was ruled out before we set of north on our journey, plan B was unlikely as we headed to Graignish to spend the night there before launching in the morning. In the morning plan B was also cancelled due to the increasing wind/squalls and sea conditions. A quick look at the map and plan C was formulated: launch at Ardfern explore some of the Islands in Loch Graignish, find a sheltered campsite for the night and take in the wonders around us. As it turned out is was a leisurely trip. Even with the rain showers and squalls, it turned out to be special (there all special). Launching at Ardfern was good with easy access to the shore. Soon we were paddling through the moorings towards the east channel between Eilean Mhic Chrion and the mainland exploring the salmon cages as bars of silver fish leaped out of the water. The mainland shore was heavily wooded trees with branches hanging out from the shore on to the water and the bird song gave this environment a fresh water loch atmosphere. Even with occasional shower, it was good to be out on the water. After exploring the channels at Eilean nan Gabhar we paddled down the east shore of Island Macaskin to its southerly point, before heading back north to a sheltered campsite we had selected.
The squalls and rain showers close in.
We explored the interior of the island and were amazed by the numerous high dry stain dykes that enclose some of the old pastures/crop fields throughout the island. The toil, sweat and physical demands of sourcing the stones from this island, moving them to where they are needed and building these dykes and clearing the fields in all weather conditions are unimaginable. Macaskin Island seems to have rich soil, if the mole hills are anything to go by. Most of the island is heavily wooded apart from the land that has been cleared in the past; unlike most of the smaller island on the west coast. There is also a kiln on the east coast which could have been used for liming the land. Perhaps the trees were managed for this very purpose.
As we walked to the summit of the island we came across an very old building, possibly a summer shieling.

The view north up Loch Grainish. View to the west towards Graignish Point and in the distance Jura.
Derelict crofts or dwellings are always sad places of stories forgotten, no fires in the hearth and no laughter of the children who no doubt once lived there. Without humans a sad lonely place, with no soul, and no welcoming smile.

Views from the southern end of Macaskin.

The wildlife was also fantastic: Hen Harriers, Canadian Geese with chicks, Wood Peckers drumming, herons, Pheasants, numerous types of Ducks and sea birds were seen and heard. And of course the Cuckoo’s that seemed to be calling everywhere, especially the one that that decided to take up a calling post on a tree next to the campsite at 6am. Fantastic.
Pheasant nest raided, possibly by a Hooded Crow.

Rocks on the shore being used as an anvil, possibly by Gulls, Crows or Otters, which there was plenty of signs of.

The weather was not good, but the memories of this trip and of the lonely croft will be with me forever.

The end.


  1. Great post there, David, and a fascinating island to visit by the looks of it.
    The weather's been throwing some fun at us over the last few weeks, hasn't it?!

  2. Hi Rhiannon, it’s good to hear from you again. The weather has been very unpredictable over the past few weeks. However, if it was not for the poor weather condition I would never had paddle Loch Graignish and camped at Macaskin. Like all Islands it has a personality all of its own, but it has a special atmosphere. On a positive note I did manage to launch, get the tent up and down and pack the car at the end of the trip in the dry. It was only the rest of the trip that was wet. Let’s hope that the weather conditions settle down soon to its normal summer pattern: RAIN!!

    David A

  3. Always appreciate your words and images, David. We leave in a couple of weeks for a five-week work exchange in Forfar, Scotland. Alas, I'm afraid there won't be time to paddle. We do look forward to visiting family and seeing your beautiful part of the world. If we could just bring our kayaks... D.

  4. I hope you enjoy your time in Scotland. It is a pity there will be no time for kayaking.

    David A

  5. Hi David, love your blog post. My hubby's G-G-G-Grandparents lived, worked and had babies on the island (gulp) there so it's lovely to see the photos. I've written about them here: