Its the old buildings and the island's history that makes the Ailsa Craig so interesting for me.
The lighthouse and attached keeper's cottages are the most obvious buildings and can be seen from the mainland on a clear day. The lighthouse, although still operational, is now unmanned and solar powered. The cottages were sold to a businessman who intended turning them into holiday homes, but the plan fell through and they are now falling into disrepair. The lighthouse itself is painted a brilliant white but the rest was left to fend for itself
There are also two huge foghorns on the island and before they were silenced due to the efficiency of modern radar, they were powered by compressed air which was stored in the metal tanks beside the horns. This one is situated on the south end of the island.
And this one is on the north end of the island. A railway line once served both foghorn's from the lighthouse area and the remains of its tracks can still be seen. It was around about the foghorn areas that the famous Ailsa granite was mined. It is a very fine grained, red granite which was turned and honed into 75% of the worlds curling stones.
The largest building on the island was a gasworks which produced gas from coal to power the engines that compressed the air to sound the fog horns.
There were around 25 people living and working on the island during its hay day but it is now uninhabited. Some of the quarry workers cottages have been partially dismantled to reclaim the granite that they were built from.
Although there is no quarrying going on nowadays, granite is still taken from the island to make the curling stones. There are plenty blocks lying around the shore area. It was quite moving wandering around this old cottage. There is still the remains of some furnature and an old book rotting away where it was left by its owners.
I think it was quite moving for my brother too, as he ambled past the only cottage left that is still habitable. He spent a week living in it back in the late 70's. I often listened with envy to his stories of the island and wished I could see it for myself. Now I was there and following in his footsteps.
Together we were going to climb past the old castle with the view of standing on the very top of the Ailsa Craig :-D
To be continued ...