If you’ve ever fancied an alternative challenge to climbing all of Scotland’s munros, how about ticking off the Strangeways ?
“The what ?”, you may ask. The Strangeways are the brainchild of Andy Strangeway, the first and only person to have ever spent a night on each of the 162 Scottish islands over 40 hectares, 62 of which are uninhabited. He defines an island as “an island is a piece of land surrounded by sea that you can’t walk to“, which excludes bridged islands such as Skye.
It’s not a challenge for the faint-hearted. While some islands are connected by regular ferry routes or tourist boats, others are far more difficult to get to. Andy soon got to know helpful boat operators who helped him achieve his goal, which took him four years. You can see a list of the 162 islands on his website, Island-Man.co.uk.
In a recent post I profiled what I would regard as some of Scotland’s must-visit islands, just a small subset of the 790 or so offshore islands around Scotland. Andy Strangeway clearly has rather more experience of these matters than I of course. He singles out Naoimh in the Inner Hebrides as his favourite island, and also one of the most inaccessible. Just south of the Isle of Mull, Naoimh is only a mile and half long but extraordinarily beautiful, from the ruined religious settlement on one side to the jagged rocks and Atlantic breakers on the other. Celtic monks from Ireland are said to have arrived on Naoimh 21 years before St Columba came in 563AD. According to Andy, the constellations shine with a fierceness not seen elsewhere and the Milky Way is a clear pale stripe across the sky. Sounds idyllic !
On his blog, Andy describes himself as a “campaigner and adventurer sleeping in remote UK locations“. He’s clearly a man driven to tackle causes and challenges he passionately believes in. Since sleeping on all 162 Scottish islands in 2007, he has since:
- become the first person to sleep at each of the six extreme points of Great Britain solo on consecutive nights (2011);
- become the first person to sleep on the summit of all 52 counties of England and Wales (2012); and
- successfully campaigned for the removal of the ‘No Overnight Parking’ signs in the Highlands, 69 on trunk roads and 250 on non-trunk roads.
While some may consider Andy’s ruthless focus to be bordering on the obsessive (can I say that as a munroist ?!) I certainly admire his perseverance for his parking sign campaign, and am also inspired to visit some more of Scotland’s islands. Great stuff !