A Quiet Visit to The Slate Islands

The views from Luing

Angela takes a short getaway to The Slate Islands

Inspired by the glorious weather in Scotland of late, and also prompted by the feeling that too many weekends whiz by in a blur of cooking, cleaning and shopping, I took myself off last weekend for a mini-break on Scotland’s west coast.

I could only manage one night away from home, so I was determined to pack in as much as possible. My destination was the Slate Islands that lie off Scotland’s west coast, just half an hour or so south of Oban.

The view from Blackmill Bay

The Slate Islands

For several hundred years, The Slate Islands were a busy, noisy industrial area that at its height produced around eight million slates a year. Not for nothing were these known as “the islands that roofed the world”. But a devastating storm in 1850 saw many of the quarries flooded, and the industry never fully recovered, with quarrying stopping altogether in the 1950s.

Today, the islands of Luing, Seil and Easdale are the epitome of peace and tranquillity, and nature is slowly healing the scars left by their industrial past. Wildflowers are colonising the banks of abandoned slates and shingle, and birdsong fills the air.

If you’re looking to escape from it all for just a little while, this is the place to come.

Harebells growing amongst the slate

A peaceful place to travel

On Seil, there’s a tiny museum detailing the islands’ slate heritage, and on Easdale the little folk museum gives a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the people who lived and worked here. But my favourite island is Luing, the biggest and also the quietest of the three.

Its southernmost village, Toberonochy, is a place that time forgot, and if you can, take a drive out to wild and windswept Blackmill Bay, with its views towards the Corryvreckan Whirlpool and its soundtrack of crashing waves and seals’ cries.

Just over 24 hours after leaving home, I was back in the car once more, feeling refreshed and relaxed. And there was one more memorable moment in store. Heading out of Dalmally, a strange-looking sight lay just ahead of me – a young man leading a donkey laden with camping gear along the main road. They looked very contented travelling companions, and why not – the sun was shining, and on days like these, there’s no better place to be than Scotland.


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Angela Gilchrist

Angela is Former Editor-in-Chief of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Her passions include cats, Highland ponies, good books, vegetarian food and long walks in the Scottish countryside. Her favourite place to get away from it all is the magical Isle of Skye.