Saturday, 29 June 2013

Rathlin Island Visited Part 8

Yesterday I finished my post when I returned from my walk from the East Lighthouse at 8.30pm and was just in time for breakfast.  Although we had all brought our own breakfast because we were staying at the Hostel, Ronnie had brought bacon and rolls for everyone and so it was very welcome as I was starving after my early three and a half  hour walk!  The photo below is the last photo  I am showing you of the Harbour and village on Rathlin Island.

After breakfast we decided to walk to the South Lighthouse, locally known as Rue.  As I had the group with me I had less opportunity to take photos as I was making sure everyone was able to see the birds through the telescope and doing some teaching when appropriate.

Reed Bunting


As we walked and stopped often to look at the birds, we saw this man with a bicycle and realised it was 'Rush Hour'!!!

 These sheep had huge horns and we all thought there would be more sheep on the island.

Below is the Bay just before we reached the South Lighthouse.  We stopped here and watched the Seals and Eider ducks in the water.  There was an old building where we found Common Gulls nesting and Rock Pipits very busy bringing food to their chicks.

Common Gull 

Eider with ducklings

Rock Pipit
The South Lighthouse below (known locally as the Rue Light) is the smallest of Rathin Island's three lighthouses and stands just 35 feet tall.  It has operated since 1922 and was designed as an unmanned lighthouse.  It flashes twice in quick succession followed by a short gap.

We headed back again and stopped again in Church Bay.  This photo, entitled, 'Solitude' below was one I took last year and is a member of my bird class and unable to come with us this year.  

 Our time was coming to an end however we were looking forward to Emma's award winning fish and chips.  They were the 'real deal', so fresh I think she must have fished for them that morning!

Below is how the outside of her cafe was decorated.

During our time on Rathlin Island, we had seen 55 different species of birds and I was telling the group that normally I see a couple of Ringed Plover and just when we thought we would never seen one here, I spied one among the seaweed.  Can you see it?

There is a wonderful Visitor Centre and this plague below is on  a wall.  So out of interest I looked on the Internet to learn about the history surrounding Robert the Bruce and I thought I would share that with you.  It is the story of an Rathlin Island, a King in exile, a determined spider... and the greatest military triumph in Scotland’s history. (read more below if interested)

Exactly 700 years ago, King Robert the Bruce was on Rathlin Island, planning his return to Scotland.   Under the East Lighthouse at Altacarry lies the most famous cave on Rathlin, Bruce's Cave.   Legend tells how Robert the Bruce fled from Scotland in 1306 to regain his strength in this great cave.   The story also tells how he was inspired to return to the battle in Scotland, and victory at Bannockburn, after watching a spider steadfastly spinning a web inside the cave.

I am sure you have heard the proverb:
 'If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again? No? Well, listen up.

You may have spotted a version of his persona in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart in 1995.  Hollywood’s version wasn’t altogether the most accurate portrayal of the real man, but his legacy is remembered not just by the Scottish, but also by Ulster-Scots people in Northern Ireland.

In its entirety, the story is complex, dramatic and includes daggers drawn, a Scottish army at loggerheads with its English neighbours, and the exiled King Robert fighting for his country’s freedom.

So this is the tale of Rathlin Island, an exiled King Robert, and a very, very determined spider.
The year was 1306AD. After suffering a defeat and in exile, King Robert of Scotland was pondering his next move in a cave on the picturesque Rathlin Island.  He had received yet more upsetting news from his sources in Scotland.  His wife was being held in captivity, his brother had been executed and the Scottish village of Kildrummy had been taken by his enemies.
This was bad. His thoughts turned to his options. He could take himself and his brothers to the Holy Land or courageously attempt to restore freedom to his beloved homeland, knowing in his heart that the former would be both criminal and cowardly. But did he have it in him to continue?
Glancing upwards to the roof of the cave, he spied a tiny spider hanging on a thread trying to swing to a nearby rock so it could fix the line and create a web. Six times the spider tried and six times he failed to reach the beam.  But he didn’t give up.

Robert the Bruce had tried to free Scotland from the English and their allies six times, and six times had failed. The spider’s determination was not lost on him.

If the spider makes it to the rock on the seventh attempt, decided Robert, he would continue his fortunes in Scotland. If he fails, the Holy Land beckoned.

As he made this resolution, the spider – maybe sensing the moment, maybe completely oblivious – swung with all its might and reached the other side to fix his web. The deal was sealed and a return to Scotland followed.

Not only was this determined spider’s valiant efforts a major influence on Scottish history – and by default, our Ulster-Scots heritage – it also protected spiders from those who heard the tale in the centuries that followed.  On no account would people kill a spider because it had inspired a king and shown the power of perseverance.

This is the 'Writer's Chair' and I took this photo last year when I asked a friend to sit in it.  She is a writer so she sat in it looking for more inspiration for her next poem.  

So my time on Rathlin has come to an end and perhaps at least next time you see a spider, you will remember Rathlin Island and even some of you might visit next year!  
Above, (both Wesleys' photos) are some of us on the ferry back to Ballycastle and the scene (below) is before we boarded the bus on our return journey.

I will leave you with 2 short videos as I leave this beautiful island.

The first one can be accessed at

The last video can be accessed at

Thank you for visiting my blog and in particular to all of those people who have left comments. 

You can access more photos at the Bird D'Pot


  1. the end of another wonderful acquaintance with other like-minded people in a fabulous environment. What a lovely getaway and beautiful photos too Margaret

  2. Hi Carole Many thanks for visiting my blog over the series to Rathlin Island adn I am very glad you enjoyed them. Have a great weekend. Margaret

  3. Wonderful! I have enjoyed visiting the island through your photos.

  4. Wow, what a great trip. I enjoyed the tour. The island scenery is beautiful. I love the sheep with the big horns. The birds, seals and wildflowers are beautiful. Thanks for sharing your visit. Have a happy weekend!

  5. Brilliant Margaret. I'm getting a yearning to visit - islands are such magical places. Love the "rush hour" and "Chip Ahoy".

  6. What an island, it is beautiful. Everyday, you have given us your patience and love where you have been, I love your trips, thanks Margaret.

  7. Your photos of this island were great, so much fun to see. Always lovely to see a photo of the blog host, and I also enjoyed the 'rush hour' photo, and thought the sheep were magnificent with those horns. Definitely a place I would like to visit. Also loved the story of the spider. Thanks for sharing Margaret and have a happy weekend :)
    Today’s Flowers
    An English Girl Rambles

  8. p.s. almost forgot, loved the videos too :)

  9. yet another great post Margaret, how do you find the time.?


  10. Oh my- interesting! Thank you for the tour and lovely photos!

  11. many incredible images!! I LOVED all the birds and landscape pictures but for me, the most exciting sighting would have been the seals, so exciting!!

  12. Wonderful post, very impressed with your long walk even before your 'real' day had begun. I love the sheep! and the seals, the birds, all of this is fun, enjoyed the island's history as well.

  13. Hi Margaret :-)

    Lovely post and super photos, I particularly liked the sheep's curly horns and the peace of the place. Nice to link in the Robert the Bruce story too.

  14. Oh my,those sheep have massive horns.Beautiful scenes along the way.Thanks for sharing.

  15. Wonderful images again Margaret and another great series of posts, you really do live in a beautiful part of the British Isles which is full of wildlife :-) As a Scot by birth I also read with interest the short history of Robert Bruce's time on Rathlin Island as he seeked sanctuary from the English army. I've also enjoyed seeing the Lighthouses as to be honest I'm a bit of a Lighthouse nerd :-)

  16. Such a beautiful place, and and inspiring tale as well. The wildlife are so varied and interesting. Thank you for finding and visiting my blog while I was away in Arizona for a couple of weeks!

  17. the rams are too cool, and loved your 'rush hour'.

  18. Hi Margaret...
    I use my copyright logo and always in part of the image for a particular purpose...I've had images stolen and others trying to sell them for profit. So, I will continue using the logo as such, even tho some don't like it while others they don't mind. It's my choice.

    LOVED this post. All the wildlife and the beautiful scenery. AND the birds of course.

  19. Really enjoyed all these posts Margaret. Love the seals in this one.

    I think I'll have to pay a visit across the water next year.

  20. Hi Keith you would be welcome. Thanks for all your kind comments. Margaret

  21. You somehow have the ability to get animals to pose for you! I have never seen a Stonechat, he is very cute and colorful both. the sheep, Oh my GOSH, He is AWESOME, and he s posing for you. I have never seen one like him, truly amazing!!! Love the moody photo of the South Lighthouse!!

  22. Margaret, I so much enjoyed your tour of Ratlin Island. Now if that's rush hour it's got to be my kind of place ... scenery, history, wildlife and not least the fish and chips.

  23. Amazing shots, all! Of course that sweet little bird caught my eye - and the sheep, always my favorite. You'd think those horns would be so annoying to the poor sheep who has to wear them! - like mutton chop whiskers! (but cuter, of course) lol

  24. Hi, I'm visiting from Anni's bird meme. I enjoyed seeing the photos of your trip and reading about the history of the area.

  25. Beautiful island, but the curly horns top the cake for me! It's just incredible...

  26. Beautiful landscape and birds. Looks like a very nice day. :)

  27. What a beautiful, historic island! Great shots of the birds and other wildlife there.

  28. Great tour!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  29. You got some great shots. Thanks for sharing the history lesson, too. Quite an interesting tale.

  30. It's like I'm on vacation, when I see these pictures.
    Very nice that seals, and sheep are also wonderful.
    Regards, Irma

  31. Fantastic photos, Margaret! I love the close up of the ram! The seals are wonderful, particularly since we don't see them here. :-) Thanks for visiting my blog last week! I appreciate it.