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Cullipool is yet another spot that I, and no doubt others, have sailed straight past countless times while hurrying with the tide either up or down the Sound of Luing, perhaps inhibited by the slightly tricky sounding entrance and exposure to the west. But in fact it is a snug anchorage in an easterly wind, with stunning views across to Mull and the islands of Nether Lorne. Not so good when the wind swings round a bit to the south, even on the visitor moorings which I think are too exposed and too far out. However, there is a rather rickety metal pontoon you can land on rather than a slippery and rocky shoreline.
Ashore is quite a large gaggle of early 19th century cottages built for the slate quarrymen. The whole place is steeped in slate – a still solid slate pier, abandoned and flooded quarries (this would be a scary place to bring up young children), crazed looking cliffs left over from blasting, bits of slate all over the place. In the end it finally all closed down, in 1965. It is well worth walking north through the village as far as you can go. On your way, about 200 yards from the harbour, look out for a steel gate with a small sign on it proclaiming the Isle of Luing railway company. Nigel Dyckhoff had set up a charming model railway in his garden, but sadly it is no more. To the south of the harbour, in a few minutes, is a small island shop. The new in 2015 Atlantic Islands Centre is, quite rightly, getting excellent reviews. Although the exterior is a bit functional, inside it is calm, light and welcoming with a combination of social centre for the island, heritage exhibition, work spaces and a very nice café/restaurant with a tempting lunch menu (ph 01852 314 096). I can vouch for the coffee and cakes. Only open late for dinner on Saturdays.
Otherwise there is nothing of great interest except the charm and friendliness of a small island with no pub or hotel, still without the controversial fixed link across Cuan sound to Seil island, population of roughly 200, and about 20 kids in the primary school. And - amazingly perhaps - it has an amateur dramatic society. Also amazingly there is a bakery, Mary Braithwaite and Nigel Ings's Luing Bakery sells its cakes and other goodies in the island shop, up the road to the right after you go ashore (make sure to buy your stuff there, it needs your support). Which all goes to show that a PhD in archaeology and anthropology can take you to becoming a baker.
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The Atlantic Islands Centre
Still loads of slate for building
An awesome abandoned slate quarry