Easdale is the smallest inhabited island in the Inner Hebrides, with a permanent population of about 60.
It is about 15 miles south of Oban. To get there you drive across Seil to Ellenabeich (or take the bus), and then take the passenger ferry.
The island is car free.
High school age children go to school in Oban by ferry and bus. Young ones get the ferry to the primary school in Ellenabeich.
It is distinctive because it used to have a thriving slate quarrying industry. This has left it with flooded ex quarries and large amounts of slate spoil lying around.
Before I went I wondered if I’d be seeing a landscape of post industrial environmental desecration, but in fact it just felt like part of the island’s history – in the same way as some people admire the bleak, empty parts of the Highlands which have been deforested.
It will only take half a day to see the island, its museum and then have lunch or a coffee at the Puffer. Well worth the “detour”.
In fact, I spent more time than that.
I went foraging for edible seaweed. I found out about Slate Islands Seaweed by accident, made some enquiries and booked up. £35 for a 2 hour session.
We spent a few minutes in the island community centre while Duncan explained some basics – which types are edible and which part of the shoreline they can be found on. Then we went to the rocky shoreline at the south of the island – low tide so lots of exposed seaweed.
We collected some and tasted some raw. Finally, back to the centre to cook some.
It was fascinating and I enjoyed eating it – no ill effects either.
One of the island’s current claims to fame is hosting the annual world championships in stone skimming. Slate stones make for perfect skimming. Sadly my visit came a couple of weeks too early.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2016