I was very pleased when the owners of Callumkill Estate contacted me some time ago and asked me if I would like to build them a new website. At that time I didn't know much about the estate which wasn't listed on my Estates of Islay webpage either. When I was on Islay in the autumn of last year I visited Malcolm and Clare Macgown, and their son Callum, on their estate and we had a nice conversation about the website, the estate and its history, and I was shown around their house, which is very beautiful. Until that point I knew I heard the name Macgown before but I wasn't sure when and in which context. During the conversation I had with Clare I suddenly realised that I had written about Mal's grandmother, Marjorie Macgown, soon after she died on the 11th of April 2008. Marjorie died at the age of 110 at the Gortanvogie Residential Home in Bowmore, where she had been a resident since 2003. Marjorie was believed to be the oldest person in Scotland.
Callumkill Estate, covering 3,000 acres in the south east of Islay, provides sports such as stalking and shooting. On their land they farm cattle and sheep and their farm's meat can be bought directly from them. They also offer two selfcatering accommodations, the Farmhouse and a neighbouring cottage. Callumkill Farmhouse is set high on a ridge with beautiful views over the pagodas of both Ardbeg and Lagavulin distilleries and the sea towards Kintyre, Texa and Ireland and their closest neighbour is Ardbeg Distillery. Interesting detail is that the lochs and rivers of Callumkill supply Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries. Continue reading....
Mal and Claire Macgown and their son Callum don't live fulltime on the estate, they are based in the south of England. Besides his main occupation Mal Macgown is a very keen photographer which made the design of their website a pleasure. As you can see on their new site Mal's photography has a prominent place on most of the pages, except for the images on the Shepherd's cottage page. Mal's photography is one of the reasons that the website has become very attractive. In the next months there will be more of Mal's pictures on the site, a good reason for a return visit.
Besides information about their selfcatering accommodations, the Shepherd's Cottage and Callumkill Farmhouse, you can read more on their new website about the sports they offer such as red and fallow deer stalking and rough and driven shooting of woodcock, wild pheasant and snipe. One of the finest pages on the site is the history of the Macgowns at Callumkill and another page titled about Callumkill where you can read more about the history of the estate and some of the interesting features such as such as St Colombaâ€™s well or St Michaelâ€™s well, which is a natural well in the side of a ridge up near the plague village. Apparently young couples about to be married go here for good luck. It is surrounded by horseshoes and coins.
Another interesting feature on the estate is Solumh Village or Plague village. All that is visible now are the overgrown foundations of a group cottages. In the late 18th century, the story is that â€œa foreign ship of some kind had gone on the rocks near Ardbeg. The women showed a great deal of kindness to the shipwrecked sailors and helped them all they could. In appreciation the mariners gave the women small presents. One lady was given a necklace of mother of pearl which evidently harboured the germs that caused the plague which wiped out the small community called Solumh. The village was burned to kill the germs but after some time was rebuilt and the plague broke out again, but this time it was kept in check.â€ About half way to the fever village there is a flat stone on the ground. Other stories say that when the "fever" (probably the plague) was brought to Solumh by a sailor, the infected were sent to the fever village to keep them away from the healthy. The healthy villagers put food on to this stone, which was then picked up by the inhabitants of the fever village. They knew when the food wasn't picked up that they had all perished.
Bhein Solumh is the third highest peak on Islay, and from the top there is a wonderful 360 view of the island, and of the three lochs on Callumkill such as Loch Solumh and Loch Uegeadail. Furthermore there are a number of ancient monuments on Callumkill, perhaps the most significant of which is a chambered cairn. It is about 29m long and 10 m wide and is at the northwest of the estate. And there is Airgh na Bheiste, a ruined cottage on top of a hill to the east of the property and is passed on the walk up to Solumh cottage. On this walk you will also pass by crudely carved faces in the stone. These were apparently carved by a shepherd on Callumkill many years ago.
As you can see there is enough to see and read on the Callumkill website, so I invite you to have a look at www.callumkill.com