Monday, 28 May 2018

Handa Island and the Puffins

Here are some facts from Wikipedia! Handa is an island off the west coast of Sutherland, Scotland. It is 309 hectares (1.19 sq mi) and 123 metres (404 ft) at its highest point. You access it by a lovely small ferry that sails from Tarbet on the main land. 
That sky... that sea.. amazing

It was run by the RSPB for 25 years (lease), but when this ended the family who own it wanted it to be run by a Scottish Charity so its now a Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

The island is composed of Torridonian red sandstone and surrounded by cliffs that many species of bird love to nest on.  
first puffin - lovely!

The island's name is of mixed Gaelic and Norse origin and means "island at the sandy river".

Anciently the island was used as a burial place, because wolfs would dig up grave sites on the main land so burial here was safe from this threat. There are still the remains of a chapel in the south east, commemorated in the name Tràigh an Teampaill (Beach of the Temple).
It had a population of 65 in 1841, but in 1848 potato famine forced the inhabitants to emigrate (Nova Scotia). In some ways this is surprising, since it is recorded that the islanders had a fairly varied diet including oats, fish and seabirds, rather than depending heavily on a potato crop. The islanders had a parliament, similar to that of St Kilda, which met daily, and the oldest widow on the island was considered its "Queen".
The Great Stack of Handa was first climbed from the sea on 1 August 1969 by Graeme Hunter, Hamish MacInnes & Douglas Lang.

Island finds in the bothy
All I'll add to this is - wow, what a great place to visit. The boat ride across the sound is atmospheric, and then you land on a golden sandy beach.... The signed walk around the island is nice and varied and you see so much bird life. Its hard to imagine a population of 65 on here, in fact I'm not sure how they even had sufficient water.
swim time

The puffins were amazing to watch, the first time I've seen them I think, and because it was such a great weather I had a lovely swim in my pants at the end of the day whilst waiting for the rib to come and take us back. A highly recommended day trip. 
time to leave

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