Monday 30 October 2017

Hidden Scotland - The Slate Islands

The beautiful and barren Isle of Luing seen from Seil

When I was told I was staying on a 100 year old lifeboat on the Isle of Seil for my birthday I was a bit confused. First of all, I'd never heard of Seil, and second of all - I was picturing a mouldy old ruin of a boat beached on its side in some seaweed-y shallows. Still trying to act grateful beyond these visions, I was very pleasantly surprised when I learned the true destination of my birthday treat.

Nestled in its own private beach in Cuan Ferry at the most Northern tip of the Isle of Seil, lies the 104 year old Alexandria Lifeboat, which has been restored back to life by its owners. You can stay on board the beached boat for just £50 a night through Air BnB, and it sleeps up to 6 people. It's one of the quirkiest little places I've ever stayed and it's got its own little kitchen and barbecue out on the deck.

The Alexandra Lifeboat 

Nestled in its own private bay - above and below

The neighbouring area is steeped in history and so interesting to explore too, and I couldn't believe how little I'd previously known about this rugged, wild and beautiful part of Scotland. The Atlantic or Slate Islands as they're more aptly called, are a group of islets made entirely of slate which sit just next to the Argyll Coast, 20 minutes south of Oban. They kiss the coastline, and at low tide you'd be easily mistaken thinking they weren't islands at all.

Easdale Island from Seil, with Mull towering in the distance 

The gardens next to the Alexandra Lifeboat

Connecting Seil to the mainland is the famous Bridge Over the Atlantic - a tiny, precarious stone bridge, that was built in 1792. Before this, the Jacobites used to get a boat across and use the Tigh na Truich Inn just on the other side of the water to change back in to their forbidden kilts, safe on their island home from the English.
The Clachan Bridge or more commonly named Bridge Over the Atlantic

My favourite island of the three inhabited slate islands (Seil, Luing and Easdale) was the latter, and the smallest of the trio. Easdale is found to the west of Seil and accessed by a tiny passenger/fishing boat which costs £2.05 return. The best way to describe it is probably like a real life Tellytubby Land. As soon as you disembark from the ferry on to the jetty, you're greeted by a fleet of multicoloured wheelbarrows. There are no cars allowed on the island, so if you're feeling a tad lazy the wheelbarrows and a kind pusher are all you've got.

'Main Square', Easdale Island
The main mode of transport on the island

Incase you get lost

Slate as far as the eye can see

Children playing in the main harbour on Easdale

The inhabitants of the island are very friendly. Not just the 60 humans who live there - we were treated to the aquaintance of 7 rare curly haired Hungarian Mangalica pigs who have their own secluded pen with spectacular views over to Mull. As well as pigs there are 3 cats, 10 dogs, a tortoise, a couple of rabbits, and a parrot living on Easdale throughout the year.

Your ex's new gf is this way 

Rare Hungarian pigs are some of the island's main inhabitants

Come September however, the population of the island rockets as the World Skimming Championships grace the main quarry of Easdale's many flooded slate pits. They've escalated to world renowned fame in the last few years and B&Bs are booked up years in advance. We just missed the championships unfortunately but we had a go anyway on the still and turquoise quarries. The quarries ceased to exist after an enourmous flood in the late 19th century that cut the slate excavation for good. These islands roofed the world at one point, and although now not used for much except farming, they're wee gems (as well as slate) that should definitely be visited. 

A wee couple having a picnic enjoying the calm quarry waters and view across to Mull

Best seats in the house for watching the championships

New world champion



  1. Scotland is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit in the world. Your photography is incredible, too.. felt like I was actually there. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks Heather - really means a lot :) hopefully you get there soon x



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  2. So beautiful and unexpected. Love the pictures, definitely want to visit Scotland.

    1. Thanks very much Maninder. You should visit Scotland - it's underrated and so spectacular. xx

  3. cute blog and beautiful pictures. i love scottland but i wish u would tell us more about it. like a little guide :)

    1. Thanks Selma. I've got lots more blogs on Scotland up my sleeve so stay tuned :) xx

  4. Scotland has been on my bucket list for years! And did I mention yet that I love AirBnB?! I always use that app to find places to stay when I travel. Your pictures are awesome and I think you captured the beauty of that area very well. Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to go...

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment :) xxx

  5. Wow! Looks amazing and surreal! My husband and I would like to visit places like this!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Michelle. You should definitely visit! xx

  6. Im sorry to ask, but what kind of camera are you using? This is incredible photography. Absolutely stunning.

    1. Hi Danie, no problem - I was using my trusty Sony Alpha and a 50mm f1.4 lens :)

  7. The scenery in these pictures look gorgeous! Looks like you had a wonderful time and Scotland is definitely a place I want to travel to some day!

    1. Yes we had a lovely time! My boyfriend knows how much I love Scottish roadtrips so this was a perfect gift. Hope you get here one day! xx

  8. What an interesting experience! The photos show off the area beautifully.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Wendy :) xx

  9. I read about these islands years ago, was intrigued, then sadly they slipped out of my mind. Huge thank you for reminding me. Looks like such a fantastic trip.

  10. What a lovely looking place! I paddled around the Slate Islands on a day trip from Oban once - we drove to Seil and left by kayak from there. The islands looked incredible from the water - I had no idea they're also so pretty on land! I'll need to look into that boat Airbnb - I love quirky places like that! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Jessica Brightman2 July 2018 at 02:42

    Mind-blowing pictures. Scotland is one of my dream places. My husband and I visited Scotland last year. I fall in love with the islands – Skye, Lewis, Harris, Orkney.. . Would love to get to Scotland someday too. Thank you for this post.
    mallaig scotland

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Thank you so much for all the lovely comments! I read and appreciate them all and will either respond here, or shimmy over to your blog and say hello there! Lots of love, Megan xxx

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