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Scottish anchorages


I am not sure about Portnahaven.  At the most southwesterly tip of Scotland, and in an idyllic setting, it should be more exotic than it is. Maybe it is too dominated by holiday homes. It is certainly deadly quiet, just a couple of rows of pretty cottage above the bay, with some more modern houses behind. However, there is a cosy pub in what looks more like a private house  — An Tigh Seinnse (the house of singing) — with one rather good real ale when I was last there, from the Islay Brewery (ph 01496 860224). The menu looked enticing, rather more than pub grub, but I have not tried it. Reports are good.


The cottages down by the shore were built in the early 19th century as a fishing settlement, and as somewhere for people to live after they had been 'cleared' from their inland homes. There is a basic village shop and post office. The Parish Church is a Parliamentary Church, by Thomas Telford to a standard design, built in 1828. It is definitely worth a look because it is one of the few Telford Parliamentary churches to have retained its original layout. It is said that one of the two doors in the south wall was for Portnahaven locals, while the other door was for people from Port Wemyss across the fields. The high pulpit is set against the south wall in front of two large windows with lovely views, and the interior decoration is calm and sensible. 'Pevsner' hits the nail on the head yet again with his description of "pristine and prim".


I have not attempted to explore the off-lying island of Orsay but I gather there are some interesting things to see — yet another ruined medieval chapel, and a lighthouse.


Out of the tide and out of the swell it is pretty idyllic I suppose. But on a bad day it is a dire place to get in and out of with the swell breaking on Orsay and the tide running strongly round the rocks, with a lot of waves. Well, even on a good day it can be quite daunting.It comes as no surprise that the world's first commercial wave energy generator was sited half-a-mile up the coast at Claddach, now a decommisioned concrete shell.

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Looking over the anchorage to Ireland (Rustam Salman)

Portnahaven Portnahaven

The church interior

The village from the anchorage