Tuesday, 12 February 2013

EASDALE/ELLENABEICH

Looking at the map prior to writing up this blog post, I became confused. About 10 years ago we visited Easdale while on holiday in Kintyre, and the Easdale I remembered was a charming little village on an island reached by an ancient bridge. However, the map had Easdale marked as a small island reachable only by ferry, and I was sure we had not taken a ferry to get there. It turns out the village we visited was Ellenabeich, which is sometimes referred to as Easdale due to the proximity of the eponymous island. Mystery solved! The bridge we crossed to reach the island - Seil, one of the Slate Islands - was the famous Clachan Bridge, built in 1792 by Robert Mylne and designed by Thomas Telford. The bridge spans the Clachan Sound, a body of water so narrow that whales have been known to become stuck in it, and to look at the bridge in photographs it is hard to believe that it takes traffic, but it actually forms part of the B844 road. Somebody with a sense of humour once christened the bridge "The Bridge over the Atlantic", and this nickname has stuck. Meanwhile, visitors to Easdale Island can leave their cars behind, since one of the things the island is known for is a complete lack of roads or cars.

To add to the geographical confusion, the name Ellenabeich derives from the Gaelic for "Island of the Birches". This is because much of the village was once on an island, but the channel making it so was filled in by spoil from the slate quarries round about, and then built on, so that it is now part of the larger Seil. The village consists mainly of low, whitewashed buildings, mainly catering to tourists now that the slate quarry is gone, and including a microbrewery, bar and restaurant among the rows of charming cottages. One of the cottages, a former quarry worker's cottage, houses the Ellenabeich Heritage Centre. However, the biggest draw in the village, to judge from the number of coaches parked outside, is the Highland Arts Exhibition, with its extensive gift shop. Another popular attraction is wildlife watching courtesy of boat trips run by the Oban-based Sea.fari Adventures.

Map of the area.


© 2005 Jill Everington, via Wikimedia Commons


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