April 2, 2016

Isle of May

My son and I visited Scotland a few years back. He was there to give a talk at St. Andrews University, while I was hoping to golf at St. Andrews. One of the days was spent visiting the Isle of May, located about 5 miles off the coast in the Firth of Forth. We rode a bus to Anstruther, a fishing village north of St. Andrews. There, we boarded a small boat equipped to hold about 50 or so tourists. The round trip is about five hours.

The island is home to huge colonies of puffins and a bewildering array of other sea birds. You feel very much a visitor in their world. The guano-covered rocks are volcanic, carved into steep gullies and caves by millennia of tides and storms. Foot trails crisscross the island, which is just over a mile long and about a third of a mile wide.

The attached photo shows the Main Light, built in 1816 to warn ships away from the island. In 1886 a foghorn was installed, the air supplied by massive compressors that drove the air to the horn through a mile of pipe. Certainly, if you find yourself in the area, it’s a fascinating way to spend a day, but you best have well-developed sea legs, as I found out to my dismay on the return trip.]

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