The Isle of Erraid

Erraid is a tiny island, off the island of Mull, off the island of Great Britain! We left Findhorn on Saturday at 6am, taking the weekly bus that goes to Erraid, via two ferries and some spectacular (though, as I am now acutely aware, unnatural, deforested) countryside.

The roads got narrower and twistier the closer we got to Erraid, with a lot of single track roads, especially once on Mull. Eventually we changed busses, and were taken by Paul a bit further… until the bus could go no further, at which point we put our heavy bags into a trailer pulled by a tractor! On the flat parts we hitched a ride on the tractor too, but walked over the bumpy bits. Usually people get to Erraid by boat, but the sea was too rough that day, so we had to do it “the hard way” – though the walk was welcome after 4 hours or so in the first bus.

The settlement on Erraid consists of one street of 9 houses, actually 5 buildings; a few other buildings; a lighthouse observatory; and not a lot else. They have mains electricity and a couple of telephone lines; dialup internet is available, but only at one house at a time, so there is a connection schedule. They harvest rainwater for drinking and have a well for other water, burn wood for heat, grow a good amount of their own food (though now, through the Hungry Gap they are buying food in). They have only composting toilets, set away from the houses, and with no electric lighting – you can feel the wind on your cheeks! But also look at the stars, clear and bright in the sky with no light pollution…

On Sunday we went on a walk around the island, led by Val, Chris and Britta; we saw sheep, birds and seals. There is no unnatural noise here – no motorways, no aeroplanes. Kara and I made leaps to get onto the Wishing Stone, which is surrounded by water – they say, be careful what you wish for!

Of the 30+ of us that partook of Ecovillage Training, only six went to Erraid for this optional-but-recommended digestive week. I felt bad for those of EVT who had to return to jobs in the “real world” on Monday – what a blessing to be unfettered and free! Of course, I was thinking of the next few months and years – planning and plotting, scheming and wondering. In Canada, can I grow everything we’ll need? How much wood will I need to heat us for a year? Where will I be able to get a cheap woodburner? What are zone planning regulations like? Where can I get 5-10-15-100 acres of land that is cheap, has the right location with respect to attracting visitors yet not being too close to a city, and has good soil, water, solar… Wow!

So we spent the week helping in the garden, cooking, and chopping wood; I helped baking bread (I love baking – and the results tasted wonderful!); Kara made beautiful Erraid Rainbow candles, and milked a cow. On Wednesday we had a day trip to the holy isle of Iona, walking up to the top of what I think used to be a hill fort, Dun I, and then back down to the Abbey. It is a very sacred, peaceful place.

I spent a lot of the week recovering from the intensity of EVT, actually – thinking and relaxing, spending time alone, singing a little taize. The idea of voluntary simplicity might be a hard one for many to grasp, and even harder to accomplish in an urban setting; but I found the opportunity to visit somewhere that has all this in place, and working well, a real blessing as well as an eye opener – what do I actually need to live a happy, contented life? Not much, compared to what I had just a few months ago!

One Response to “The Isle of Erraid”

  1. Juarez Says:

    Kbomb and Dman,
    I’m on the trail now.
    Will follow religiously.


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