Being known as someone who enjoys exploring the outdoors has its benefits. A call from an old friend led to the opportunity to travel on a privately chartered boat to the Scottish island of Ailsa Craig. Ailsa Craig is a small island on the west coast of Scotland formed by an extinct volcano. Now sitting as an uninhabited island, it’s home to a range of wild birds, granite rock and a summit to climb. With lots to see and do in the area I’m looking forward to my future boating adventure.
Marilyn not the munro
Normally I can be found hiking in the highlands of Scotland attempting to bag another munro for my list. The highest point of Alisa Craig stands at 338 metres. Not enough to make munro height by a long way but enough to be called a Marilyn. A Marilyn is classified as a Scottish summit with an independent peak over 150m high. The short climb to the top to check out the views across the River Clyde towards Girvan will be spectacular.
Unique living history
There is plenty of history attached to Ailsa Craig covering its long years of varied uses. Everything from a castle to protect from Spanish invasion, through to a haven for escaping Catholics during the Reformation. For centuries the island has been a focal point for fishing boats and with that smuggling. I can’t wait to explore the smuggling caves that the crag filled rock is famous for. Maybe there is still buried treasure to be found.
In more recent years Ailsa Craig as become famous for its involvement in the sport of curling. The rock is formed of a large quantity of micro-granite, perfect for making the hard durable polished stones we see at the Olympics. In fact Ailsa Craig is one of only two sources in the world, making up over two thirds of all material used in the sport. The other source of stone being from Trefor granite quarry in Wales. This source is much closer to home.
Ailsa Craig wild life
Uninhabited islands generally have one thing in common, wildlife. When people move out native animals move in and retake their home. Ailsa Craig has become home to a number of different specifies of bird, including Puffins and gannets. Currently leased by the RSPB, its become a protected bird sanctuary allowing the birds to develop safely from poachers.
In the past the island has been host to less common animals including sea eagles and slowworm. Inhabitants have kept rabbits, goats and pigs to farm during the period of fishing from the area. Even badgers and racoons were at one point introduced but have since disappeared from sight. It sounds like there won’t be a shortage of things to see and do during my stay on Ailsa Craig.