Early November 2007 I wrote about Islay Coast - Geological and Archaeological Survey. A fascinating survey and report covering almost every part of Islay's Coastline. Today I had another look at a section of this report (section 12) covering the area between McArthur's Head and Rubha nan Earachan. McArthur's Head is probably familiair for some of you, it's the white lighthouse on top of the cliffs at the entrance to the Sound of Islay when you're on the ferry to Port Askaig.
When you look at that area from the ferry you might get the impression that it's completely deserted and always has been. Well that's a little besides the truth. The report reveals that there was indeed some human activity in this area years ago and nowadays the area is home to a walker's bothy which is located at An Cladach (IY99 on the map). A quote from the report will explain about the other human activity that took place here:
A total of three sites were identified within this map section; all of these had been recorded previously. The sites are all of 18th-20th C date and represent small settlements. At An Cladach (IY99) there are three small rectangular stone buildings, one of which has been restored to provide basic accommodation for hill walkers. To the south of this, there is a further building (IY100). A head dyke extends behind both sites. A slipway on the coast edge in front of the An Cladach settlement indicates that access to this area was by boat. The location and place name evidence (An Cladach meaning harbour) suggest that it may have served as seasonal accommodation for fishermen. Further north, at Glen Logan (IY98) a stone walled enclosure is built onto a natural rock cliff and previous surveyors have noted traces of lazy bed cultivation nearby.
This shows that there once was human activity here. Nowadays this is a remote and inaccessible area, that is when you're on foot. Folks who circumnavigate Islay with their Sea Kayak are better off and get easy access to these areas. The bothy is regularly used by people as a shelter and in May I talked to some people who used it as a sleeping place when they made a kayak trip from Port Ellen to Port Askaig. Also Brian Dickson did a kayaking trip with some friends along Islay's coastline and spent time at the bothy at An Cladach. In his online photo album you can have a peek inside the bothy and see what it looks like. The second picture on the right is the bothy at An Cladach, courtesy Brian Dickson.