Monday, October 22 2007
Regular visitors and locals are aware of the fact that Islay is a musical island and there is even a place on Islay where the sand is singing. The Singing Sands on Islay are not unique in the world, there are other places that have singing sands, roaring sands or even whistling sands. There are a few conditions that have to be met to let the sand sing. The sand grains have to be round and between 0.1 and 0.5 mm in diameter, the sand has to contain silica and the sand needs to have a certain humidity. The frequency of vibration is related to the thickness of the dry surface layer of sand. In the case of Islay's Singing Sands it is said that if you rub the sole of your shoe over the sand it generates a singing sound. I have been to the Singing Sands a few times but probably never had the right conditions, or the proper shoes, to generate a sound.
The Singing Sands beach is located on the Oa peninsula just behind the Carraig Fhada Lighthouse. If you park your car at the Kilnaughton graveyard you'll find a track along the bay that heads to Carraig Fhada farm and lighthouse. A pleasant walk of ten minutes takes you to Carraig Fhada farm and just before the buildings start you will find a sign posted track to the right towards the Singing Sands, which is in fact a very nice beach. The track leads up the hill behind the farm house and on to the beach, offering wonderful views towards Port Ellen, Kilnaughton Bay and the lighthouse. Occasionally you will spot (Sally Underwood's) wild goats here. But not to worry, they won't come after you!
The Singing Sands is a very peaceful gem on Islay with an occasional seal basking on the rocks and stunning views towards Port Ellen, Texa, the Oa and the Kintyre peninsula on a clear day. Bathing is not advised here due to possible strong under currents, but apart from that the Singing Sands is a great place to sit, picnic, relax and watch the world (and an occasional Calmac ferry or fishing boat) go by. On your way back you can visit the unique Carraig Fhada Lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1832 by Walter Frederick Campbell in memory of Lady Ellenor Campbell and built by David Hamilton & son. Try to be quiet when approaching the lighthouse and you may even be rewarded by spotting an otter. Carraig Fhada Farm, for sale since a few months, is home to a well known artist on the island named Harry Underwood. Harry is a gifted painter and creates beautiful Islay landscapes which are for sale at several shops on the island.