Thursday, 24 January 2013


The tiny villages of Portnahaven and Port Wemyss, located at the end of the peninsula known as the Rhinns of Islay, are close enough together to be almost one community, in fact they share a church between them. The church, a small, rectangular building dating from 1828, has two doors at its front, and it is said that at one time the worshippers from Portnahaven had exclusive use of one of the doors and those from Port Wemyss the other. Portnahaven was built as a planned village to house people being cleared from the island's interior, with an economy based around crofting and fishing. The village was ideally suited to the latter, since the island of Orsay which lies opposite the village provides shelter from the capricious ocean beyond as well as providing a warning to approaching vessels with its tall lighthouse, which dominates the horizon for miles around. The sheltered harbour at Portnahaven is also favoured by Grey Seals, who can often be seen sunning themselves on the rocks in the bay. About two kilometers north-northwest of Portnahaven is a headland called Rubha Na Faing, and just offshore is a group of islands called Frenchmen's Rocks, named after a battle which took place here with three British frigates in which three French ships were driven onto the rocks. This spot is also a treasure trove of birdlife, including shearwaters, petrels, gannets and auks, best seen in autumn. At nearby Claddach is the "Islay LIMPET" (Land Installed Marine Power Energy Transmitter), an installation which has the distinction of being the world's first commercial wave power generator, putting it at the forefront of renewable energy technology.

© 2009 Peter Church, via Wikimedia Commons

Map of the area.

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