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A Visit To Handa Island

A Visit To Handa Island


Postby Alasdair Drummond » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:54 pm

Route description: Handa Island, near Tarbet

Date walked: 06/06/2012

Distance: 6.5 km

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The cost of a return ticket to Handa from Tarbet is £12.50 (as of June 2012) of which SWT get £2.50 as your admission to the island. The ferry runs from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday from April to september. The ferry company guys were friendly and helpful with the normal West Coast laid back attitude.
One of my fellow passengers, on the ferry across Handa Sound, remarked that it was an appropriate day for a beach landing and it took a second for me to realise that he meant the date, the 6th of June!
IMG_5094.JPG
Beach landing on Handa

We were met on the beach buy 3 of the islands wardens, who pushed the landing ramp up to the bow so we could disembark. One of the wardens then escorted us through the dunes to the other beach then up to the stone built shelter which multi tasks as information hut, shop, meeting place and, well, shelter. There is also a fairly new toilet block adjacent.
IMG_5089.JPG
Shelter & Toilet block

There then followed the most pleasant and easy to comply with "Health and Safety" briefing I have experienced. We were ASKED to stick as much as possible to the path and REQUESTED to avoid certain areas. Not just that but we were given the explanations as to why these requests were being made. It's so much easier to do as you're asked than to do as you are ordered.
We then set off on our tour of the island. Now the leaflet you are given in the shelter (available in umpteen languages) suggests you head across the middle of the island towards the cliffs and ultimately a counter clockwise circuit. I suspect the sudden arrival at the top of the 85metre cliffs would, indeed, take your breath away. I, however, would suggest that, especially if it's your first visit, you take the clockwise option. The choice must be made roughly 500m from the shelter where the path splits.
Taking the clockwise path means that the island reveals it's wonders gradually, each one more astonishing and exciting than the last.
IMG_5003.JPG
Boardwalk from the Rocky Bay
The Rocky bay,
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Natural Arch
the natural arch,
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Geos
the Geos (deep inlets), the cave with the collapsed roof and
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The Cliffs on Handa
the cliffs come at you one after tIhe other. It all culminates in arrival at
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The Great Stack
the Great Stack (which is covered with puffins, razorbills,
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Birds on a shelf
guillemots,
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Naff off we'rre sleeping
fulmars and kittiwakes)and the nearby bay with the aforementioned 85m cliffs.
As we walked along an Arctic Skua encouraged us to keep walking past it's nest.
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Arctic Skua

We spent a long time watching
IMG_5080.JPG
the seabirds,
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Small Stack in Puffin Bay
admiring the view and enjoying the magic of the place.
After a seat and a bite to eat, we set off down the boardwalk across the island back to the shelter.
IMG_5083.JPG
Path Across the Island
There we purchased some souvenirs and reread some of the information boards before heading back to the beach for the next ferry back to Tarbet.
If you go to Handa pick a good day during the nesting season, give yourself plenty of time and sandwiches, take the longest camera lens you can and binoculars. You wont be disappointed!
Last edited by Alasdair Drummond on Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Alasdair Drummond
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Re: A Visit To Handa Island

Postby Mountainlove » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:17 pm

Thats brilliant! Thnak you for sharing! I always wondered how it is like on the island...I think that will be a good trip...must do that at some point!
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Re: A Visit To Handa Island

Postby Paul Webster » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:52 pm

Great place- but your photos are broken links - do you have them set to private maybe?
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Re: A Visit To Handa Island

Postby Mountainlove » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:21 am

Strange first time I saw the report the pictures were visible
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Re: A Visit To Handa Island

Postby Alasdair Drummond » Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:56 pm

Paul Webster wrote:Great place- but your photos are broken links - do you have them set to private maybe?

Yeah sorry about that but I have now uploaded them instead of linking to them, so here's hoping!
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Re: A Visit To Handa Island

Postby Ian Johnston » Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:35 pm

Great report Alastair!

I've kayaked around Handa and "had a look" at the base of the Great Stack but the swell was too big to try squeezing into the gaps at its base.

During the nesting season the view from sea-level is astonishing - as of course is the smell :wink:

Kind Regards

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