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Scottish anchorages

David Balfour's Bay

David Balfour's Bay (confusingly another Traigh Gheal) is a delightful spot on the south side of Erraid. This is an almost uninhabited tidal island apart from an off-shoot of the Findhorn Foundation since 1978, a small spiritual community living in the 19th century lighthouse keeper cottages, built by the Stevensons as the shore station for the Dubh Artach and Skerryvore lighthouses. You can stay there for a personal retreat.


There is a fabulous beach, in fact there are two connected at low tide, backed by low cliffs good for bouldering. The water is pristine, the sand brilliant for sand castles. No wonder it can get a bit crowded with maybe six or so boats at anchor when the wind is in the north. And if you dare, you can go for jumps off the cliffs on the west side of the bay, checking the water depth first.


It is known as David Balfour's bay because it is where Robert Louis Stevenson imagined Davie — in Kidnapped — being thrown ashore clutching a spar from the Covenant, his sinking ship wrecked on the Torran rocks ("are there many of them?" the captain had asked, revealing his poor grasp of navigation).


RLS was the black sheep of his family who were largely engineers. They built most of the Scottish lighthouses — indeed his father used to take him on trips by boat around the coast so he knew very well the places he later wrote about, at least from his memory because most of his stories were written after he had left Scotland. In 1890, near the end of his life and in Samoa thousands of miles from Scotland, he wrote: “Whenever I smell seawater, I know that I am not far from one of the works of my ancestors. The Bell Rock stands monument for my grandfather, the Skerry Vhor for my Uncle Alan; and when the lights come out at sundown along the shores of Scotland, I am proud to think they burn more brightly for the genius of my father”.  If you want to know more about Scottish lighthouses you can do no better than read Bella Bathurst's marvellous book — The Lighthouse Stevensons (Harper Collins 1999).







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David Balfour David Balfour

It could be Greece, but it isn't

Crowded for Scotland, very crowded