In days of yore you went over the sea to Skye, and that was enough. Now in this Instagramably influencial, socialy mediated world you need to go that one step further (Yes, you can get the ferry from Uig to the Outer Isles but if our narrative is to survive we need to draw a modest curtain over that – Sorry Cal-Mac – and go in a different direction). Just off the Skye coast in Sleat, by the little village of Isleornsay, there is a small island called Ornsay and beyond that is the even smaller island of Eilean Sionnach. Wait… the village is called Isleornsay and the island is just Ornsay?
Anyway, on the other little island tucked away behind Ornsay, the one called Eilean Sionnach, there is, in the predictably confused way of things, the Ornsay lighthouse.
Eilean Sionnach is quite small but the lighthouse makes up for this by being quite large, and it’s well built. It’s a Stevenson. The Stevenson family were for a few generations the creme de la creme of Lighthouse design and construction, and Eilean Sionnach’s is a David Stevenson design. He also has the Edinburgh and Leith Sewerage Scheme on his CV. I don’t know why that is relevant but it might be reassuring if you have to use a toilet on the island. Alongside the lighthouse is the keepers’ cottage. The cottage is not needed anymore as modern technology has automated the lighthouse. Now instead of the lighthouse keepers admiring the splendid views up, down and across the Sound of Sleat you get to. The cottage has been renovated to a breathtakingly high specification and furnished perfectly. it is available to rent (here at eileansionnach.com). Imagine a whole island all to yourself? Right beside Skye. In fact you can see the local pub and hotel from the kitchen window, a great incentive not to cook…
We were asked to provide images for the cottage’s website. One of those commissions where you not only get to photograph a beautiful cottage but you also get to tick off one of those places you pass by all the time and wonder if I would ever get to see it up close and personal.
Done that and it’s amazing.
You have to stay there, you really must. It’s adventure, luxury and just the right amount of isolation. You can see over on the mainland – one way to Sandaig, immortalised as Camusfearna, by Gavin Maxwell. The other to Mallaig which, ehhm, Scotrail immortalised in their timetable…
Here are a few highlights of Eilean Sionnach’s beautiful Lighthouse Keepers’ cottage: