Alasra Raised Beach

Alasra Raised Beach

18 July 2020

Important reminder: All dogs must be on leads, and remember to keep clear of all livestock, especially sheep and sheep with lambs and … please leave all gates as you find them. Thank you.

Almost three hours. Alasra is a peninsula on the north west of Lismore beyond Port Ramsay and Laggan. It was originally part of an area known as Fennachrochan. It is stunningly beautiful and extremely interesting.

We biked to Laggan and began our walk at the Curries’ new house, passing along the road, past Duncan and Anne Livingstone’s, through the gate and in front of Jennifer Baker’s market garden at Camas. From there a gate leads to the shore and soon a smaller gate to the raised beach path. It’s quite rough for a while and needs care. After the roughest bit we reached a quarry, a lime kiln, and what looked like a storehouse, with a path down to the remains of a quay. Further on we saw a cottage with a gable hearth. Lime burning was a significant activity on the island in the nineteenth century. Several walks have kilns.

Keeping to the raised beach, we walked round to the west where the cliffs were galleries in stone, as they are in much of Lismore. We needed to go up into the woods at times when it was too steep or dangerous. At another point the sea was up to the cliff and any higher and rougher we would have had to turn back. The tides should be consulted if you want to stick to the raised beach. There is a lovely route over the top not long after the lime kilns.

The woods are penetrable, although you will need to bend double at times to avoid having your eyes poked out. Sheep graze Alasra so the paths are clear but in places sheep height. It has never been thought viable for cattle so the ground is not deeply rutted. In late spring the smell of wild garlic will delight you.

The gas beacon on a promontory is still a mystery despite consulting many of the older Liosaich. It is post second world war if Archie MacGillivray’s memory of its being erected is accurate. It has a plaque saying: Gas Accumulator (something), Lighthouse (something), Beacon Works, Brentford, England. It stands on a large white arrow pointing north west, which may or may not be significant. I’m told that, when there was a gas cylinder within (it is empty now), it had a considerably long life, but no-one is able to tell me when it stopped working. My guess is that it is a cold war item and was to do with submarines. All suggestions welcome.

It is not thought that Alasra (there are many spellings) was ever lived on, although sheep have always grazed it (since they have been here). The most famous traditional story concerns Donald Campbell of Ardnamurchan, a most unpleasant lot, who had acquired land in Lismore in the 17th century and of course wanted more. To this end he tricked the Livingstones of Bachuil out of considerable land by insisting that the entire island attend his church service and, while they were there, an accomplice (who later killed himself) caught and killed the prized black sheep of Alasra and hid the carcass in the Livingstone’s barn. Not wanting to be accused of sheep-stealing, the Livingstones agreed to forfeit most of their Lismore land, retaining only around a dozen acres.


 

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We visited again on a sunny October day when, if possible, it was looking even more beautiful. This walk is accessible from the north end ferry and is full of interest and beauty in almost any weather.