Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Surprise! Ailsa Craig

What a treat I had today!
Only yesterday I was musing to myself that this year might be the first in a a while that I've not been out to Ailsa Craig.... Then this morning, a random tweet (if you "do" twitter my handle is @snoweider) and before I knew it I was crewing for Ocean Breeze Ribtours aka Elspeth and Russell Cheshire who run regular trips out to Ailsa during the summer months. Thanks to Elspeth and Russ for these stunning photos lifted from their brilliant blog.

Ailsa Craig is famous for it's unusual profile, a fabulous microgranite that was mined  until recently for curling stones, and of course being an enormous gannet colony. In addition to the 70,000 gannets, perched high above the firth of clyde on tiny ledges, there are also several thousand guillemots and razorbills, kittiwakes, fulmars and of course the charistmatic puffin.

As the weather was good, we were able to land on the island and have a look at the ruins of the mining village and associated industrial units.  It's a really interesting place, and although the last residents left in the mid 20th Century it has a feel of having only just been abandoned, with the points on the railway still working, and curling stone blanks littering the raised beach. 

We lingered just a little too long, and had to race the falling tide back to Lamlash. Luckily the water was flat and friendly, and before long the Isle of Pladda was alongside us and we were rounding the Southend of Arran. An amazing trip. I can't wait to go back!

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