Port Wemyss is a lovely wee fishing village on the southern tip of the Rhinns of Islay and a very close neighbour of Portnahaven. The dividing line between the two villages is the burn, next to the Burnside Lodge, the local B&B in Port Wemyss.
Walter Frederick Campbell gave the village its name after the 8th Earl of Wemyss. Initially though the village was called Wemysshaven. In the old days seatrade with Northern Ireland was the main source of income for the villagers of Port Wemyss and Portnahaven. These old links still exist today. No wonder, in clear conditions you can almost “touch” the other side of the North Channel. This stretch of water can also be very treacherous given the many ships wrecked on Islay’s shores.
Rhinns of Islay Lighthouse
The Rhinns Lighthouse on Orsay island is clearly visible from the village and dominates the skyline. At night it’s a safe beacon for ships passing the channel, it’s lights are visible from 30 miles out to sea. The lighthouse is managed by the Northern Lighthouse Board and built by the famous Scottish enigneer Robert Stevenson in 1825.
Prior to the automation of the station in 1998 a principal lightkeeper and two assistents would carry out a period of four weeks duty at the staion. Transfer to and from the island was by helicopter from Oban, where there was a ‘shorestation’ for the keepers and their families. Prior to the use of helicopters, the transfer of the keepers, provisions and other light stores was by small boat.
Wave watching in Port Wemyss
During and directly after a proper winter storm with a big swell head over to Port Wemyss. On the Loch Indaal side of the village is a wee space to park your car. From here you can get up close to the huge waves crashing onto the rocks. It’s here where I took the “Face in the Waves” photo a few years back.
Seaside of Port Wemyss
Port wemyss has a beautiful and picturesque seaside and there are very well maintained gardens opposite the road. In lovely weather it’s a joy to walk around this village. Also the path of the Fisherman, following the shoreline, is very rewarding. Seals often come up to observe you and there is the old harbour pier from which you can enjoy the most amazing sunsets.
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