Loch Gairloch. Weather finally good to leave Stornaway and make our way back down south via a different route before (eventually) transiting the caledonian canal. As we were departing Stornaway a neighbouring yacht offered us the use of his mooring at Loch Gairloch for the night as a stop on our way to Rona Island. Very kind and that would do us just fine (rather than having to pay for a community morning). As we were pulling off the dock we were given very vague directions on how to find it (those instructions being “it’s in the bay – past the island”) and when we arrived at Loch Gairloch later that evening we diligently looked at all the moorings in the bay & then picked the biggest strongest looking one and decided that must be the one he means and made ourselves as home – must have been right as no-one came to bother us.
Rona. Found another home away from home! Could so very easily live here (I know I have said it before and it probably will not be the last time!).
Isle of Rona (the south island with name meaning “rough island”) is 8 kilometres long by 1 kilometre wide it is a perfect size for it’s 2 residents – that’s right two….oh my how I wish it was me! Bill and Lorraine are the caretakers on Rona, they live at Rona Lodge overlooking the harbour and they manage the 3 holiday let cottages on the island as well as all their other ventures running off this… fishing trips for guests, cook what you catch for guests, deer stalking (the island has a deer population) as well as their own venison meat goods from the deer on the island (we certainly enjoyed a version lion, burgers and sausages that we purchases), they also run sheep, chooks and have a fantastic veggie patch.
It is definitely getting towards the end of the sailing season and they were surprised to see us (especially with the poor weather of late), we even got a mention on their blog! https://isleofronalog.com/2016/09/21/my-time-of-year/
We spent two days on Rona and could have spent many many more. Such a great place to hike, explore and just be. Lots of hills up and down but a new feast for the eyes in breathtaking views around each corner (or over every hill). There is a light house on the northern end of the island but we didn’t make it that far (quite a bush hike and the ground was still very very wet and boggy in places – gumboots got a good work out).
Bill was always keen for a yarn and had great stories to tell (sorry for distracting you from your work in the larder Bill – he was cutting up a deer but we just couldn’t stop chatting). Bill had told us that there was also an English couple on the island staying at one of the cottages that we may run into … later that morning we did just that – we met them on a path near the western bay not too far from their cottage and they were kind enough to invite us into the cottage for a cup of tea, biscuit and chat.
Its hard to believe that back in the 1890’s there were a recorded 181 people living on Rona, by the 1920’s it was down to 14 families then down to 16 people in 1931, by the seventies it was down to three before none in the 90’s and now back up to two + guests. We hiked and found the lost settlements of these communities who were primarily crofters and fishing families. We also found the famous Church Cave on the East side of the island which used to be used for worship until a church was built in 1912.
I can’t recommend this island enough for anyone visiting Scotland get yourself to Rona, web link attached https://isleofrona.com