Kirkhaven closed

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IMG_1722For the month of November Kirkhaven, the only proper jetty and harbour on the island, is closed. It has become taken over by the seals and like us it is an easy place for them to get onto the land and sheltered from the worst of the weather.

Getting out to the island is a fairly hard task with it sitting 6 miles out into the North Sea but landing has always been even harder. A circuit of the island reveals very few chinks its it rock face armour, the obvious boulder beach at Pilgrims haven is not sheltered and never a comfortable landing. Alterstanes, further north on the west side is equally open to the prevailing winds and at its best has only been a place to drop off personnel and small amounts of supplies and even with a little swell can offer an undignified return to the island.

The main landing has always been Kirkhaven and landing there can be a challenge. There are several gaps in the shielding line of rocks (called the Pillow and Bus) but only gap is safe to use at anything other than the very top of the tides. To help boats find the right entrance 2 navigation markers were built, large white painted stone domes behind Ardcarron.  The idea is that as you come down the east side of the island when the 2 markers line up you turn into the harbour entrance. I am not sure when they were built, maybe during one of the world wars when the island was manned and had to be resupplied almost on a daily basis or maybe by the Northern Lighthouse board when they took over the running of the island and the building of the Main light. Either way it is now SNH that maintains them with a coat of paint along with other navigation markers that give boat skippers a safe line to get into Kirkhaven to the top jetty. But for the time being it is only the seals that can use them.

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