Photo: Will Copestake

The Summer Isles

The Summer Isles is a group of about 20 islands, rocks and skerries within the Wester Ross Marine Protected Area that sit off the Coigach peninsula. You can walk to the closest, Isle Ristol, with its long white sandy beach, on the lower tides; the furthest, Eilean a Chleirich (Priest Island), lies some 6 miles from shore. The island is a RSPB reserve and is home to seals, otters and seabirds, including over 2000 breeding pairs of storm petrels. Many of the islands also offer fresh grazing for local crofters to winter their sheep.

The largest, Tanera Mor is some 800 acres (300 ha) and is the only one of the islands permanently inhabited. Tanera Mor was the centre of a thriving herring fishing industry in the 18th century, and many centuries before that its sheltered harbour was home to Vikings. It was the Vikings who named the island Tanera, a name later given the Gaelic addition of Mor (‘big’) to distinguish it from its neighbour Tanera Beag (‘small’ Tanera).

A trip to the Summer Isles is a popular excursion for visitors to Achiltibuie, and a local cruise boat takes passengers on a magnificent trip around them during the summer months. The islands are great too if you have an appropriate boat or kayak – within easy reach, incredible rock formations, caves and beaches. Alternatively you can enjoy them as part of the panoramic view from the hills above Polbain.