Ask an islander
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Image: Sophie Whitehead-Robertson
We travelled across to Luing– one of the Slate Islands - for our next island of the week feature, and Lorraine from the Atlantic Islands Centre gave us the full low-down on Luing life:
"The picturesque conservation village of Cullipool is at the heart of life on Luing and where you will find the Atlantic Islands Centre, home to a fascinating historical exhibition and a gift shop selling books and gorgeous crafts from over 20 local crafters."
"But it is the cafe which is the real jewel in the crown of the centre, selling local seafood, bread from our award-winning island bakery and an amazing selection of cakes provided by the Luing home bakers co-operative."
"The best thing about it is the lovely warm community. I've not been here that long and everyone has made me feel so welcome - I feel like I've been adopted!"⠀
"The community loves to come together regularly and are very proud of Luing. The centre holds a variety of events over the year from ceilidhs to book launches, and art exhibitions to community meals, where the whole island is invited! The centre opens on a Saturday night like a local pub and people gather to play pool, have a meal, share a drink with friends and catch up."⠀
"My favourite part of the island is the slate quarry in Cullipool. A walk to the quarry is like taking a walk into another world. It sits right beside the sea - a rugged coast where the water laps right up over the rocks giving you the feeling that you really are on the edge of the Atlantic!"⠀
"The landscape has a real atmosphere and you can imagine the men who worked here long ago and the hard physical graft they had to put in to extract the slate."⠀
"Luing is really accessible; it takes less than 40 minutes to drive down from Oban - and we have a brilliant regular car ferry service that runs all day. You can visit for the day no problem - although you will want to come back to explore the rugged coastline, the scenic walks and see the local wildlife. The sunsets are also amazing! Luing is beautiful, unspoilt, wild and friendly - everyone who visits ends up falling in love with Luing!"⠀
If Lorraine has inspired you to plan a trip then do head to https://isleofluing.org for more travel tips.
Nestled between Orkney and Shetland and a sanctuary to birds and home to the famous knitwear, we couldn’t wait to hear more about Fair Isle. Rachel from Barkland Croft told us all about life at 59 degrees North:
"Walk to the top of Vaasetter for spectacular views over to Sheep Rock and depending on the time of year, there is a seal colony that comes out to rest on the shore around its base. Climb up to Ward Hill, the highest point on the isle and wander among the remains of the old radar station and trig point. Explore the south-west coastline and find Gunglesund, the isle's natural 'swimming pool!’
"I have always loved September partly that sense of 'new school year' and the beginning of a new cycle, but also colourful fungi start to pop up everywhere! That said, I really enjoy the time of year we're currently at (spring) - just a week or so before lambing starts so there's the excitement of that building!
"Visit the George Waterston Memorial Centre and Museum - we have a treasure trove of displays and artefacts, ranging from agriculture to the lighthouse board, shipwrecks to fishing and, of course, Fair Isle knitwear."
Once the ability to travel has been reinstated, if you fancy visiting this wee jewel of an island, sandwiched between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle can be reached from the Shetland mainland either by sea or by air. Additionally, during the summer months, Loganair offers flights from Kirkwall to Fair Isle twice a week.
To reach Shetland and Orkney, Northlink Ferries sail daily from Aberdeen and Loganair flies to Sumburgh (Shetland) and Kirkwall (Orkney) from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness - you really do have a variety of travel options.