Heritage Centre—Sailean

3 October 2022

Heritage Centre—Sailean

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Heritage Centre—SaileanModerate2:005.03 mi


This is the most well known and frequently walked loop on the island. It is very adaptable and considerably shorter if started at the Lismore hall from where you walk north until you reach the turning to the left signposted for Sailean. The loop can also be walked the other way round, going south from the hall or joined anywhere along the route, wherever you find yourself. Although it is all on clearly defined roads or paths, it can be wet in places so strong boots are advised.


From the Heritage Centre turn right (south) along the road, passing a white cottage on your right and then, very soon, Lismore Stores and Post Office. The next right-hand turn is signposted for The Sailean Project and your route is between two cottages. Follow this tarmac road, passing the bunkhouse at Sailean Croft on your right (a purple postbox) and later between two large white houses. Go through the gate just beyond these houses and continue to follow the road to Sailean, going downhill until you reach a red gate.

The Heritage CentreCottageGate, Sailean road


Once through the gate, follow the road round, feasting on the vistas as you head south and west. On the right is one of the most photographed cottages on the island, and nearby are the port and the lime kilns which made Sailean so important in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is still a very special place, and today the port is used by the Black family of Baligrundle who run Lismore Seafoods. Their boat may be moored in the bay.

Information boards pinpoint the various buildings: the manager’s office, workers’ cottages, a shop and a cottage on the pier.

Many island kilns were probably operating by the mid-19th century when lime burning was a major industry offering welcome employment. While some were still going up to World War I, Sailean continued into the 1930s, when the industry became undermined by cheap imports by rail.

Quarrying limestone was arduous and dangerous, either hewing by hand or drilling for explosives. The museum has a set of quarrying tools from Sailean donated by James MacCormick, late of Killandrist.

Pass through a field normally used for the Lismore summer sports and enter a gate to The Sailean Project, an ambitious and successful endeavour of Roger and Gilly Dixon-Spain, who are supplying the island and further afield with a variety of great Lismore food.

The route passes The Sailean Bothy (a holiday rental), a small lime kiln, and wonderful cliffs above the raised beach. It bypasses the main house and a new-build and leads uphill through a gate to the Achinduin road.

House with gardenCottageThe Sailean ProjectThe Sailean BothySmall lime kilnLime Kilns, SaileanSailean LimeworksSailean BayCurious highlander


Here you turn left and meander up and down until you reach the T-junction with the main road. On the corner, before you turn left, is what was once the United Free church and manse, which became the home and artists’ studio of the Odling family in 1972. In the 20th century, the Baligrundle church community, once viable, dwindled to just four families, including the Daisybank MacCormicks and Achnacroish Blacks (the family of Donald Black, one of the founders of the Comann Eachdraidh). When the congregation lost its full-time minister a lay preacher ran summer services only. After these ended in 1970, the church and manse were sold.

The main road continues past the Crossroads, with signs to the Achnacroish Ferry, but keep left and continue straight past the hall, then the shop, now on your left, to your start at the Heritage Centre.

Achinduin Road 1Achinduin Road 2Achinduin Road 3United Free Church, 1904

There is no such thing as a dull walk on Lismore, whatever the weather. As Donald Black famously said: ‘Lismore is an island where each ruin, each knoll carries some tale, some secret tradition, unique to that spot’.

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