Tanera Mor is the largest of the Summer Isles. It has been home to the Vikings, fish factories, herring fleets, sailing school and fish farms. Tanera Mor is now under new owners with a new lease of life.
Tanera Mor is the largest and tallest of the Summer Isles at 310 hectares with the highest point being Meall Mor standing at 122m. The island is privately owned and has like many Scottish islands has a mixed history and experienced population decline. Resident numbers peaked at 119 in the 1880s to a mere 5 inhabitants in the last census of 2001. Like other islands in the area its made of 2.5 billion year old Torridon sandstone. The island is mostly covered by grassland pastures, heather and peatlands.
Tanera Mor was a favourite anchorage for the Vikings who used the main north shore bay; The Anchorage. In its heyday in the late 1800s the bay accommodated over 200 herring drifters and a fish factory built by the London based British Fishing Society. The salted herrings were exported around the world. What different times!
Intriguingly the area Cnoc Glas (G. – green knoll) in the middle of The Anchorage bay is referred to as the Irish Park. Ships from Ireland came ballasted with rich soil. The soil was dumped and they returned laden with herring.
Six islands in one day
Tanera Mor was to be my last of six islands landed and summited in one wonderful day. I motored Trade Winds into the southwest facing bay; Mol Mor. The beach is made up of boulders, rounded and smoothed by wave and tide. Sheer craggy cliffs rose up on the left hand side. More gentle grass slopes rise to the right above an apron of sheer rocks jutting above the waterline. Beyond the boulder beach a grass and meadow bank rises into the heart of the island. Despite being a well shaped bay it is open to the south so is only advisable when seas and winds are calm or from the north.
The evening wind was fading. As a result of the benign conditions I was confident to anchor the boat and leave her unattended. I paddled ashore and as it was a falling tide I pulled the dinghy up only a few feet from the waters edge . It was now 8pm and my visit to the island would be a quick ‘up and down’ trip to the top. The scramble up was to be simply the most direct.’ That took me straight up the steep slope, over a fence then straight up steep craggy slopes. The last few meters of height to the flat top was a scramble on all fours, climbing boulders and nipping up through heather gullies. The top opened up with uninterrupted views out the the Hebrides, a view that seemed to go on for ever.
Below and to the north west lay The Anchorage with its circular fish cages. Achiltibuie lay further to the north and beyond that, Sulivan and the distant layers of slate grey mountains. Loch Broom lay to the east with Rhue lighthouse just visible in the soft evening light. An incredible vista lay out to the west and the wide open Minch. The sun was now lowering in the west so it was not possible to see the Hebrides against the evening glare.
Video, pictures and a big inhalation of the view done, I turned and picked my way back down the steep slopes back to Mol Mor bay. It was a delight to move through the deep flower meadows stroking the soft bog cotton with the palm of my hand .
The trip back down the steep slope was a stumble-jog-walk affair until I emerged back at the boulder bay. By now the evening air was motionless and still. Such conditions bring out the dreaded midge. They were out in force and intent on making a meal of me. With no wind or breeze it was not the conditions to hang around the shore line. The dinghy was rapidly deployed and I rowed to the boat at a pace to escape the little pests.
Once back aboard i cooked up and devoured a big smoked sausage pasta dish. All the shore gear was stored away and with the anchor recovered I set sail for Ullapool. From there it was a couple of hours back to the mooring in what was a light shifty breeze. At half past midnight I picked up my mooring in Ullapool bay. I settled down below 18 hours after having cast off with 35 miles sailed, 12 miles yomped and six islands topped. All in all, not a bad day out.
New owner and latest update on Tanera Mor summer-isles.com
360 degree panorama video from the top of Tanera Mor looking out across Loch Broom, the Summer Isles, The Minch and north to the mountains of Wester Ross. Scotislands at their very best!
Relive the short but very steep route from the beach to the very top of Tanera Mor!