Walking with Christopher and Jane Somerville on Rathlin Island
I had the great privilege and pleasure of hosting Christopher and Jane Somerville on Rathlin Island thanks to a request from Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland.
Christopher and Jane were delightful companions and I learned a lot from them. They are experts on birds, plants and nature in general and are very interested in Irish culture, music and literature – this led to great conversations and even a duet by Chris and myself on a Paul Brady song. Nothing but the Same Old Story!Chris, a modest man with great knowledge, has written many books, travel and poetry, and some of them on Ireland. Check him out at www.christophersomerville.co.uk
We spent the day on Rathlin strolling to Rue Point and taking in the Roonivoolin walk developed by the RSPB. It was a dream walk – peaceful and intense in its beauty. We were accompanied by stonechats and watched by hares and greylag geese. We passed several lakes including Ushet Lough where ‘model yacht racing’ regularly takes place.
We pickniked at a roofless kelp store – wonderful stone building – and thought of all the work that had taken place there and the people of long ago – now so empty and quiet. Oh! it wasn’t so quiet – seals were sitting on the rocks and one seemed to be complaining about something if its moans were anything to go by.We encountered a ‘winged cow’ on Roonivoolin on our way back and couldn’t come up with any good explanation for this strange apparition.
We saw more seals in Mill Bay as we strolled to the harbour to get our ferry. Stopping in at the boathouse museum we said hello to Tom McDonnell, an award winning nature photographer, who has produced great pictures and postcards of the wildlife on Rathlin. Tom told us about the peregrine falcon nesting on the cliffs at Roonivoolin.
Contentedly we returned to Ballycastle on Canna, a ship that had been in use in the Scottish islands and which Chris had been on 25 years before! – somehow it completed a perfect day.