Easdale, Luing, Seil and Belnahua
As their name suggests, this cluster of islands is named after their quarrying history.Slate is both a geological and cultural time capsule on these islands; the community's long-standing relationship to the land and its natural resources can be seen at the Slate Islands Heritage Centre. The Centre is a great starting point to learn about all things local, and how communities have shaped and been shaped by the islands' unique environments.
The Clachan Bridge, more commonly known locally as 'the bridge over the Atlantic', leads to the isle of Seil, where you will find Taigh an Truish, or 'The Trouser Inn'. Legend has it that the Inn is so named because historically islanders would change out of their kilts and into trousers before going over to the mainland. There are mixed views on this, and the extent to which the culture of the Highlands and Islands was repressed; some say that tartan, bagpipes and spoken Gaelic were outlawed, while others say that the ban only applied to militaristic clothing, and only to men and boys.
Luing is arguably best known for its namesake cattle. A popular breed across Scotland; specifically bred for hardiness. The Cadzow family, who founded the breed, still work the land on Luing and the neighbouring isles today. For more information, visit the Isle of Luing website.
Easdale is the smallest permanently inhabited island of the Inner Hebrides. Home to the World Stone Skimming Championships; a truly unique event which showcases and celebrates the island's unique natural resource. Established in 1983, the Championship event is held in a disused quarry - the rules may seem quirky, but it's all part of the fun! It is a truly immersive event that is open to all, why not try your luck when you visit? Please note that Easdale is a car-free island that can only be accessed by ferry - the perfect excuse to explore on foot or by bicycle.
Formerly a community of around 200 people, Belnahua is now uninhabited, but many of the houses and settlements of former residents who were employed in the slate industry remain.