The main purpose for visiting Tarbet is that it is the departure point for the nature reserve of Handa Island which is just offshore and is reachable by a small ferry boat from Tarbet. However, Tarbet has some interesting wildlife of its own. Wild rock pigeons live on the cliffs, while birds to be seen flying overhead include buzzards. Tarbet is a tiny hamlet with a scattering of buildings which include a seafood restaurant once visited by Rick Stein.
Those making the crossing to Handa Island, which is run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, are met by staff who give an introductory talk then point out the path which encircles the island, 6 Km in all. Care is needed as the terrain is rough, and it is best to allow at least 3 hours for the walk round. Although only a small island, Handa has impressive cliffs formed from Torridian Sandstone, rising to 400 feet at the northern edge of the island. The impressive geology of the island's coast includes a sea stack known as the Great Stack, which hosts enormous numbers of seabirds. The seabird colonies include the largest colony of breeding guillemots in Britain, and they share the island with many other seabird varieties including puffin, fulmar, razorbill, arctic and great skuas. In addition to the amazing bird life, parts of the island are carpeted with pretty pink flowers during the summer months. The island is uninhabited today, but there are the remains of a village which was inhabited until 1847.
Map of the area.
© 2010 Saskia van de Nieuwenhof, via Wikimedia Commons