One last waterway…

The waterways series might be coming to an end – Streets of Glasgow returns next week – but I thought of one more I could write about. The Irish Sea is a Sea Area all of its own though the bit nearest here – the North Channel – comes under Malin. Between Great Britain and the island of Ireland is the Isle of Man, a British Crown dependency and a place I would love to go to one day. It can be seen on a clear day from the Mull of Galloway, right at the very bottom of Scotland where it is said seven tides meet and it is possible to see the Isle of Man, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Heaven and Neptune, or so a saying goes. I went there once about ten years ago and it was a bit cloudy but the lighthouse was gorgeous, the cliffs and scenery were dramatic and there was a cool museum. The Rhins of Galloway is an incredible part of the world and it is often forgotten about. I mainly know it for Logan Botanic Garden, a wee bit south of Stranraer, which has palm trees and all sorts.

Ailsa Craig, from Maidens: a grey rock on the horizon underneath a sky grey in various shades. Waves lap onto the beach in the foreground.​
Ailsa Craig, from Maidens: a grey rock on the horizon underneath a sky grey in various shades. Waves lap onto the beach in the foreground.

The coastline between Ayr and the Mull of Galloway is often spectacular, rocky and dominated by high cliffs in parts. It faces the Ailsa Craig, a big basalt plug often known as Paddy’s Milestone and the source for decent curling stones, if you like that sort of thing. The Ailsa Craig looks much like the Bass Rock at the other side of Scotland though it is much, much bigger. One of the things I really want to do soon is have a walk at Culzean, towards Ayr, and a place with a great view over towards Northern Ireland and the Ailsa Craig. I’ve been there a few times, the last time on a perishingly cold February day a few years back.

Giant’s Causeway: a very dark rocky outcrop by the sea with what looks like black stones piled up all around.
Giant’s Causeway: a very dark rocky outcrop by the sea with what looks like black stones piled up all around.

The North Channel links Scotland and Northern Ireland. I use that term deliberately not only because of plans to build a tunnel but because historically the waterways around our islands linked people far more than they divided them. I recently read a book about St. Columba, who came from Antrim and founded the community at Iona. At its narrowest point only 18 miles separate Scotland and Northern Ireland and it is possible from Ballycastle to see cars driving in Kintyre. The geology is similar, not least between the Giant’s Causeway and Staffa, both the same black basalt. Go to both of those places, if you can.

Having grown up in the east, I don’t know our western coast nearly as well but every time I’m there, I just want to look for hours and appreciate just how many places it is possible to see, that distance doesn’t mean so much even if it might be a bit of a drive to get there.

Thanks for reading. There will be a Streets of Glasgow post right here next week. Plus the Saturday Saunter this Saturday, of course.

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