Friday, 4 July 2014

Ewe view, Slaggan Bay

Climbing above the beach at Slaggan Bay took me back into the wind, but also gave a terrific view across the Minch to Harris. This was where my intended camp would be, but I delayed pitching the tent in the hope that the wind would drop a bit.

 In the glen leading east from the beach are a number of ruins.  Most are of drystone croft houses, a couple of them still have a Rowan tree growing close by, the traditional protective tree planted at the gables of houses.  The association of certain trees with properties such as protection and purity still remains as a folk memory, though somewhat dimmed by the passage of time.  Small enclosures near the houses would either have been for some vegetables or for keeping a cow close by.  There's a quite large network of drystone walls separating out the in-bye ground from the hill grazing. 

Slaggan was once a typical crofting community which even had a school and teacher, but by the 1930's the poulation had dwindled to six people.  The last folk to live here were a family named Mackenzie who, in 1936 built a new house with financial assistance from the Crofting Commission.  Unfortunately the house was destroyed in a fire in 1942 or 1943 and the family moved to Achgarve leaving Slaggan deserted, the stark shapes of the gable-ends standing witness to this last effort.  The magnificent view from these crofts would have changed little down the centuries, but a view won't put food on the family table and this place became just too detached from a modernising world.

Today Slaggan is a quiet corner inhabited only by the shorebirds, a few Highland cattle and the occasional wild camper; reached either by boat or by a 4.5 kilometre walk from near Mellon Udrigle on Gruinard Bay. 

As te evening wore on there was a slight drop in the easterly wind and I pitched the tent, cooked dinner and watched as.....

...a colourful sunset lit the sky above the Minch.

My last view at 11pm as I climbed into my sleeping bag was the afterglow still smouldering to the west.  Despite not having kayaked my intended route, how could this possibly have been as a thwarted day?!


  1. Some lovely photos Ian and a fantastic spot Slaggan bay - I once drove across the rough track for a camp here on a climbing trip - the car was never quite the same after. But then it wasn't mine so I found the experience more entertaining than others!

  2. Hi Will, it's certainly a spot I intend to return to... I don't think I'd risk my own car over that track though! :-)

    Kind regards

  3. I've had the motorbike there for a look aboot the place but I've not camped yet. I think I'll head over sometime soon though.

    1. Well worth the effort Mike - especially if you get a clear and sunny day

      Kind Regards