Sunday, August 05, 2007

Cragaig Cottage, Ulva

When we left the welcoming warmth of the Boathouse into the chill of a thundery Scottish evening, we were not wholly without an accommodation plan. Tony had previously fallen while carrying a loaded kayak down a steep slippery shore and his paddling clothes were soaked. We had noticed the locked cottage at Cragaig and asked the ferry man about it. He phoned the estate manager, Mr Jamie Howard, and it was ours for the night for £30.

We dried out in the warmth of a coal fire. The back burner heated water for a hot shower and there was a working WC! There was also gas for the oven and stove. What a fabulous find Cragaig was on such a wet day!

(We have never pretended to be truly hardened sea kayakers, able to survive in the open with only a tartan plaid of rough wool and a bag of oats.)

To make things even more perfect, as we dried out, so did the weather and there was a late blink of sun on the Wilderness coast.

The township of Cragaig on the southern shore of Ulva had flourished in the 19th century until the kelp harvesting industry collapsed and the potato famine struck. Its last resident was a lobster fisherman who moved here in the 1930’s after having lived for 40 years on nearby Little Colonsay. Behind the cottage, two standing stones, dating from 1500 BC, are testament to this now deserted valley having a long history of habitation. A little further away, a human infant’s bones, dating from prior to 5500BC, were discovered in L ivingstone’s cave.

To book the cottage or to wild camp on Ulva contact Estate Manager Mr Jamie Howard Tel: 01688 500264.