What is your favourite Island?

There is something special about getting a ferry to an Island, it is always to me a magical experience, especially if the Island has mountains on it. I love being surrounded by the sea and the smell of the sea, the experience of being on a ferry and it always conveys to me a holiday atmosphere. There is a different attitude on an Island there is always tomorrow. At first I was on a mission to visit climb and walk and for many years I missed the others things that matter. The wild life, the coastline and the history now I can enjoy these wonderful insights to Island life at a more leisurely pace.

Arran – so many memories

I am so lucky to have visited so many Islands many was on rescues and training in Mountain Rescue. Its a lot different arriving in a helicopter on a wild day or even worse night. Yet my early memories of when I was brought up in Ayr and Arran was a huge favourite as a young boy we had many holidays on Arran and its great mountains. My Dad was a minister and the whole family did all the peaks including Mum and the 5 kids. We loved the Island, the beach, the old rowing boats, the putting green and the swimming on Glen Rosa amongst the granite pools. The long walks back and maybe if we collected enough bottles from the camp site at Glen Rosa the fish and chips. There was so much to do despite the midges. Later on my cycling trips the Youth Hostels, potato picking on the Island and my first trips with my pal Tom Mac Donald and cycling up Glen Rosa on the rented bikes?

Arran my late sister Jenifer and my brother Michael note the gear.

I remember watching climbers on Cir Mor in the late 50’s with my Dad and never thinking I would climb on here many times. Arran has so many great rock routes and hill days how lucky are we. How times move on and in 2017 I was speaking at the Arran Mountain Festival and it brought back many memories. I met many of the Arran MRT a great bunch of folk. We used to sleep at the Ferry at Ardrossan getting woken by the Police these were different times. It was a holiday Island and I had so many great times even in winter when it a lot quieter these mountains were special.

South Ridge Direct. Cir Mor

Skye – When I joined the RAF we had so many trips to Skye, the old ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh that used t run for us if there was a call -out and the camping in Glen brittle, or MacRaes Barn and then the village halls. The dances, parties and wild music nights in the local pubs and getting off the hill for that last pint in the Sligachan.

1973 Skye Mac Raes Barn

The early attempt on the Skye ridge as a young lad and then many other great days doing the ridge. The rock – climbing on the big cliffs and the swimming in the pools before and after it was called “Wild swimming” Epic call -outs in summer and winter, big carry off in wild corries. In the early days getting lost in the mist, learning about the ridge.

The Dubhs

The secrets of Loch Coruisk, the JMCS hut, the Dubhs ridge I never tire of that. The famous Mad Burn and the seals, and others wildlife. The near misses with rock fall and the epic call -out in 1982 when a F111 crashed on Sgur Na Stri That cold bivy that I will never forget before Gortex . The joy of getting folk round the ridge, the In Pin sadly so busy nowadays. The remoter Corries, the wild scrambles, The great days with Teallach my Dog on the ridge and the In Pin and the Cioch always must visit.

On a Call out below the Cioch with Gerry Ackroyd the Skye Team Leader

Working with the Skye Mountain Rescue Team Lifeboat and the Lifeboat from Mallaig. Big lowers on one rope scary days but well worth it. There was a period every time we climbed someone fell off and that was a day gone.

Corrie a Ghrunda

The sea cliffs, the caves, the history and of course the pubs and the hospitality. Bivies on the ridge and the views of Rum and the other Islands in a setting sun. What a place even in the rain and with the midges. Every time I go and sadly I have not been for some time 2 years now it makes me smile. The new Skye Bridge makes it a lot easier to get there but the pull up the hill mainly from sea – level are getting harder but the views from the ridge are invigorating.

Teallach on In Pinwe had just climbed on the Cioch that day.

I sailed round Skye a many years ago and harboured below Loch Coruisk for a few days. What a specail trip that was the views from the sea of the ridge are spellbinding. As we left we watched an Eagle soar above us, what more can you want?

Leeming MRT on a visit to Skye spellbinding views of Rum.

Rum, Eigg, Barra, Jura, Pappay, Lewis, Harris, St Kilda and many more tales to tell what is yours?

There are lots of books guides about and well worth buying

So much information .
Skye Guide.

From Alister Humne An extract from a wee book I am reading at the moment.

Authors words and very topical at this time.

” I have written this little book in the hope that it may be of interest and of use to the many people who, like myself suffer from Arran-mania, and to the many others who each year fall victims to that most delightful of diseases .

A chapter from the authors book note : first published 1933.

One of the most common features of the Scottish landscape, the notice TREPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED, is lacking in Arran, and the visitor is allowed to wander almost at will.
He is not compelled to admire the islands beauties and grandeurs from afar, but can explore the secret recesses of her heart, and loose himself in the innermost sanctuaries of her sole.

For myself, I have known few keener pleasures than those afforded by a day in the hills.
To loose all contact with the petty restrictions of civilisation , to strip and bathe is a swift clear pool of ice-cold water to live for hours unseen by the critical eyes of others, is a refreshing and strengthening experience.
Once or twice, as I lay with the sun beating down upon me,looking out over the broad expanse of the Firth, or halted, panting for breath, upon the steep side of Glen Sannox and surveyed the wide valley, I have become suddenly aware that I was no longer the citizen of a certain town, or a clerk in a certain office, but part of creation itself, along with the sea below and the sky above and the rocks all around me.


And even when the uplands are covered with a dimming, chilling mist or the rain lashes down in biting blinding sheets, there is still the rougher sport of defying the elements, and taking delight in temporary discomforts.”

Wonderful words thanks.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Books, Bothies, Enviroment, Islands, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Munros, Other hills Grahams & Donalds, People, Poems, Recomended books and Guides, Rock Climbing, Sailing trips, Weather, Well being, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What is your favourite Island?

  1. Mairi Paterson says:

    Love the photo with your brother and sister on Skye, with their sandals on!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love Arran, but for me it has to be Rum – long overdue for a return visit. First time there I loved the air of expedition because we had to transfer from the ferry to a smaller boat in the bay. Second time was even better: with an exceptionally low tide, we transferred from the ferry to the launch, which took us in to a few yards short of the pier. There a rowing boat came out and took us ashore two by two. Magical memories of climbing the hills and loads of new routes, and of Kinloch itself. Really must go back there – even if it is only a single ferry trip these days.

    Liked by 1 person

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