The small tidal isle of
Erraid lies 200 metres off the south west tip
of the Ross of Mull, about 300 hectares and Mulls third largest off-shore
island, about four miles drive from Fionnphort. For an hour or
two either side of low water, the island is linked to the Ross by a broad
expanse of sand along which, people can walk across to Erraid.
Please make sure that you get the tide times right and that you get
local advice before going across. Click on
this link for
HOW TO GET THERE
From Fionnphort village on
the Ross of Mull's western tip, the only road leaving the village is to
Knockvologan, winding south past beaches and sands, through Fidden Farm
and across desolate peat bog, four miles to Knockvologan Farm and access
to Erraid. Fidden Farm is owned and run by Jimmy & Christine Campbell.
As well as rearing cattle and sheep, they run a traditional campsite on
the sandy machair, right on the beach overlooking Erraid and Iona.
On passing Fidden, to the
south you will catch a glimpse of Erraid's row of granite houses and
walled gardens. Also to the
south east, in the distance, a narrow channel, dry and sandy only until
an hour before high tide, dividing the island from the main island of
Towards Knockvologan on either side of the road on the peat bogs there
is evidence of peat cutting, a fuel source for the locals in bygone
days. Peat burning has seen something of a come-back since the economic
crash of 2008. On the grassy verge on your left before the white
bungalow and 200 yards before the Knockvologan gate and barns, there is
an area where you can park your car. Please do not park your car in
front of the farm buildings as access is required at all times by the
farmer. On leaving the car, walk along the road to the farm gate
(look out for the farmers sign advertising where you can buy cuts of
their lamb), go through the gate and follow the road 300 yards or so to
Knockvologan Farm House which is on your left.
Please remember to keep dogs on leads at all
times, as livestock roam in and around the farm yard as well as down on
the beaches. If you have any doubt about the law and your legal
responsibilities as a dog owner please refer to the
Scotland Outdoor Access Code
the farm, keep on the track and walk south down the track to the
beautiful Knockvologan sands and beaches stretching east and west, turn
right (west) and follow the rough track on to the machair to the broad
channel of sand running south the north between Mull and Erraid. It is
important you have the correct tidal information and follow local advice
at this point. If you get it right you can have up to 3 or 4 hours on
Erraid. If you get it wrong you have along wait for low tide or
you get very wet!
To access Erraid walk north up the sandy channel and cross on to Erraid
at the north end of the channel.
Erraid is a beautiful, rugged small island in a very remote part of the
western seaboard of Scotland. However, history has made it more than
that as Erraid is also the backdrop of one of Scotland's most famous
romantic novels 'Kidnapped' by Robert Louis Stevenson and
as the working stone centre of a major engineering achievement - the
construction of the famous Stevenson rock lighthouse
Artach', 15 miles south southwest of Erraid on a desolate wind
swept rock, protecting seafarers from the ravages of the Torran Rocks.
Thereafter Erraid was used as accommodation for the Lighthouse Keepers
families while their men manned Dubh Artach and Skerryvore Lighthouses.
Now, having landed on the northeast corner of Erraid on your right (to
the north) is the tidal sound of Erraid, a haven for birds particularly
migrant waders and passerines including corncrake, lapwing, skylark,
sedge, warbler, hen harrier, merlin, peregrine, sanderling, sandpipers,
godwits, barnacle and greylag geese.
Walking west along the sandy north shore of Erraid you will come to a
white croft cottage (formerly the old school house on the island)
overlooking a sandy bay with views towards Fidden. On passing the croft
cottage, the track rises up to the former lighthouse keepers cottages
and along the outside of the magnificent granite garden walls to a
wooden farm gate. Go through the gate. To the north is the splendid
stone pier which is worth a look. To the south, follow the track south,
up the hill past the cottages to the quarry where the Erraid granite was
extracted for the building of Dubh Artach lighthouse.
Follow a path to the top of a knoll above the quarry cottage (now a
ruin) to the disused lighthouse observatory station. From here the views
are a stunning panorama of the surrounding area and this is where John
proposed to Jane one rather glorious October day in 2005, and so Erraid
has a special significance to both of us. On a clear day there are
splendid panoramic views of Iona, her Abbey, the Ross of Mull and Ben
More to the northwest, north and northeast. And to the south and west,
the treacherous Torran Rocks, Dubh Artach lighthouse and Skerryvore
lighthouse. This walk takes about 30-40 minutes from Knockvologan and
the easiest route back is to retrace your steps - stopping off on the
way back to enjoy the white sandy beaches at Knockvologan.
To Balfours Bay (or Traigh
From the white croft house on the north shore of Erraid, walk up the
slope behind the croft in as south-south-westerly direction. There is a
rough track where the land becomes heathery and boggy. Near the top of
the slope over its crest, there is a shallow valley facing south west.
Follow the valley for half a mile, and descend onto the secluded sandy
cove with azure blue waters known as Balfours Bay. (See History of
Erraid below). It is an ideal spot for a barbeque or a picnic and for
the real 'rufftie tuffties' perhaps a 'wee dook in the water'. On
return, retrace your steps to the croft.