Portnahaven Church was designed by Thomas Telford and built in 1828. The two doors are reputed to allow the populations of Portnahaven and the neighbouring village of Port Wemyss to enter separately and remain segregated when inside. Very Christian!
It is one of the best remaining examples of a ‘parliamentary church’, part of a wave of church-building (funded by Parliament) designed to better serve churchgoers in remote areas. Thanks Maraid for the tip-off.
Kilarrow Parish Church, more commonly known as The Round Church sits at the top of Bowmore’s main street. It was built in 1767 and is one of few round churches in the UK. The story goes that it was designed to be round so the devil couldn’t hide in any corners, but this seems to be more fiction than fact.
The church is not usually open apart from Sunday mornings, but you can arrange a visit by contacting the parish clerk on the number at the entrance.
Carraig Fhada Lighthouse on the Mull of Oa is a beautiful thing from any angle. We visited at 7.30am on the hottest day of the year.
It is Scotland’s only square lighthouse, and was commissioned by Walter Frederick Campbell, the Laird of Islay, in memory of his wife Lady Ellinor Campbell who died young in 1832. There is a beautiful dedication to her on one side of the lighthouse.
You can walk across the little path to get right up close (except at high tide). The lighthouse itself is not usually open to the public.
The Hermit of Treig – a great documentary about Ken Smith, who has lived alone off-grid on the shore of Loch Treig for the last 40 years. Incredible for his hardiness and indefatigability, I was fascinated with his thorough approach to record-keeping and the daily admin of being a hermit. (Not currently available on iPlayer but it has been repeated a few times).
The story of Clarion Clubhouses, founded by socialist organisations for the benefit of walkers and cyclists visiting rural areas. Found via a Guardian article about the last Clarion House in Lancashire, which I would very much like to visit.
Slow Ways – help create a national walking network.
Piel Island – a tiny island in Cumbria off the coast of Barrow-in-Furness – is looking for a new ruler. For reasons that have become slightly hazy, the licensee of the Ship Inn, Piel’s only pub, is crowned the King or Queen of Piel.
The ‘coronation’ ceremony involves sitting on a throne and having beer poured over their head.
Piel is a tidal island, and can be reached by ferry from Roa (at times).
At low tide, it’s possible to walk across the sands (careful now).
For a small island, it punches above its weight with one substantial ruined castle, one thriving pub and one row of very solid-looking houses.
When we visited, there was a great display in the Ship Inn, full of historical artefacts.
If you like to get away from it all, it might be worth a shot.