Isle of Lismore
ACROSS Loch Linnhe from Port Appin, the island of Lismore claims ancient origins. An early Christian settlement was founded there by St Moluag, who, legend has it, staked his claim to the island in a coracle race against St Columba. Columba was narrowing ahead as they neared the shore, so Moluag, desperate to claim the land, cut off his own little finger with an axe and threw it on to the shore – ensuring that at least a part of him reached the island first.
The island’s Gaelic name ‘LiosMor’ meaning ‘great garden’ is an apt one, particularly once the fuchsias which decorate every hedgerow bloom - though the fertility of its soil may owe less to an infusion of saintly blood than to its limestone base and temperate climate.
Lismore can be reached by a car ferry from Oban, but the little passenger ferry from Port Appin offers a more intimate experience and with an abundance of wildflowers, the island lends itself to a close-up exploration on foot or bike. Spend a day peddling around the island’s single track roads, stopping to explore the sites. Tirefour Castle is an Iron Age broch, whose impressive remains can be climbed for unbeatable views over the loch. Coeffin Castle dates to the 13th century, and you can also scramble up the ruins- take a picnic and enjoy the views over the island and the loch! Achanduin Castle west of Achnacroish also dates to the 13th century, its brooding ruins overlooking the island of Bernera.
Stop in at the Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre for a coffee and cake- the cream scones are renowned here! While you are there, browse the history of the island.
Lismore is a wonderful day trip getaway that is so close yet feels like a world away.