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When is an island not an island? When it is a sunken sugar ship. The river, estuary and firth of the Clyde snakes from upper Lanarkshire to Aisla Craig and contains many islands, some beautiful, some neglected and some downright bizarre. This book examines the individual identity of each island and offers a fascinating introduction to this diverse area of Scotland. The estuary once had islands now lost to us; either dredged away or reclaimed and incorporated into the adjacent land. Thus Whiteinch, formerly a land of silver sands and tall waving grasses now forms the road approach to the Clyde tunnel and Inchinnon, the Abbots Inch, is now known only as an airport, its original assembly of monks finally beaten by the jets. The larger islands are as they always were. Home to humans since the Iron Age, Bute, Arran and Great Cumbrae remain ostensibly unchanged although we have replaced the standing stones with secular edifices a plenty. The uses of the smaller islands have changed far more radically. Inchmarnock off Bute is dedicated to the rearing of organic cattle and people are discouraged from visiting. Contrast this with Sanda, off the south end of Kintyre.
Here the new owners have fenced and hedged and ditched. Not only that but they have re-roofed all the dwellings creating six holiday cottages, plus a bar/restaurant to which they welcome yachters and holiday makers. The Holy Isle is now owned by Buddhists, whilst Ailsa Craig is still in the hands of the Marquis of Ailsa, although the RSPB have a significant say in when one can land and inconvenience the feathered inhabitants. From airport to Buddhist retreat, bird sanctuary to holiday destination, the islands of the Clyde are certainly varied and often prove surprising. The Islands of the Clyde traces the origins and development of these fascinating places and provides some insight into their present functions.
Bridget Paterson was born in Yorkshire and studied history at the University of Leicester and has lived in Scotland since 1997. She currently lives in Colintraive, where she is active numerous local community activities, including the Bute Outdoor Centre's campaign to raise funds for the building of a centre for the disabled and their families. She has written widely on Argyll. Her book, Glendaruel and Colintraive: A Small Country, was published by Birlinn in autumn 2004.
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- ID: 9781841583501
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