Bernera Loch Linnhe


Bernera Loch Linnhe

Berera island
Summit Cairn Bernera





Bernera in Loch Linnhe is the little island that spawned a giant yew tree. The island also sheltered St Columba and Irish monks.

The Bernera Yew is a tree with a great story for sure. St. Columba was “wont to preach”’ under it and was said to have been capable of sheltering “a thousand people beneath its widely spreading branches”.

Columba prophesied the noble tree would fall to the “pride and greed of man” and that the “guiltiness of the act would only be expiated by water and blood and three fires”. Run an internet search on the tree and this prophecy by St Columba is supported by learned academics. This yew “of vast size”’ was felled ” by Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell.” During the process one man was killed by the falling tree. Thereafter six men were drowned when the boat carrying the felled timber capsized and sank.

The little island of Bernera lies in Loch Linnhe towards the south west end of Lismore. The island can be reached on foot from Lismore at low water across a stone spit. It was on foot we came upon this little gem.

Berera and Lismore
Looking to Lismore across our anchorage

The island is limestone and this reflected in the diversity of species found on the island. Bernera is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. This on the basis of its feature of limestone maritime cliffs along with the presence of the nationally scarce rock whitebeam. In the 6th century, Bernera was settled by Irish monks using the island as a place for meditation and prayer.

Berera and Lismore islands
Loch Linnhe to the north

The Noble Ewe

Bernera is a cracking little island that has crystal clear waters and pristine grasslands and wildflowers. Bernera’s claim to fame is it was known as Bernera of the Noble Yew. This grand tree it is claimed sheltered Columbus as he preached. It had a more practical use when it was eyed up as ideal timber for the build of the Lochnell Castle on Lismore. The remains of the small chapel have disappeared and were not visible on the day we landed.

We made our way up to the summit. It was an enjoyable scramble through gaps in the crags until we surfaced to the fat table top of the island. From the top Loch Linnhe presents itself with uninterrupted views.  to the north lies the massive Glensanda quarry and on further to Kingairloch. The Sound of Mull opens to the west and the hills of Mull. South, the view is constrained by the long spine of Lismore. To the west of Lismore lighthouse there is a gap that allows a sightline down the east side of Mull.

Bernera island
Lush wildflowers on grazed grasslands

Lichen clad cairn

The cairn on Bernera is worth note. The cairn is a low lying pile of lichen clad stones. Like many others that top these seldom visited islands. However, perched vertically on its top is a wonderful slab of seamed limestone. The slab stands sentinel to all who pass.

Cairn on Berera
Crew mates Richard and Willie take 5 at the cairn


Cairn Berera island
Cairn looking north to Lismore and Appin in the distance
Berera island
Summit Cairn Bernera looking south to Lismore lighthouse and Mull

Nearby Scotislands

Eilean nan Caorach

Eilean Dubh