The island is reached by crossing Cuan Sound which is known for its strong currents. The spring tides rush through at 9 miles an hour, creating an interesting ‘step’ in the water. The area is very popular with sailors and you will often see yachts using the momentum of the tide and currents to go through the sound.
Most of the island’s small population (c. 200) lives in the two villages of Cullipool on the west coast and Toberonochy on the east. Some families have been on Luing for generations, but many have settled more recently, lured by the enchantment of the place and unable to leave. Some work on the island, but others go to Oban daily, or further afield. Young children attend the island school but go to Oban High for secondary education.
Luing Stores in Cullipool sells newspapers, magazines, postcards, milk, local eggs, local meat and all the usual necessities. A post office is operated from the shop. If you wish to order groceries and perhaps a daily newspaper before your arrival, contact Gordon Robbie on 01852 314114. He can then send you a list of the stock and is willing to meet you off the ferry with your order, keep it at the shop for you, or deliver it to the cottage.
A famous and unique herd of prize beef cattle are reared on the island from which they take their name. The island is also well known for its delicious ‘prawns’ (langoustines) and lobsters, and, if you give some notice, these can be purchased from the local fishermen.
There are plenty of enjoyable walks on the island; a trip to the highest point is rewarded by outstanding views of the Atlantic and many islands around Luing. It’s also a good vantage point for the frequently wonderful sunsets. Luing is ideal for cycling. Bicycles can be hired from the Sunnybrae Caravan Site.
The island and its environs are a rich natural habitat for birds of prey, sea otters, seals, wild deer, wild goats, hares, dolphins and sharks basking in the warmth of the Gulf Stream.
From nearby Ellenabeich on Seil, you can take a trip in a high-speed RIB to see the famous Corryvreckan whirlpool, said to be the third largest in the world; deer are also to be seen, along with seals, sea eagles, dolphins, whales and a host more if you are lucky. Sea-fari will also arrange trips to some of the more inaccessible islands, including the magical Holy Isle with its remains of an 8th-century monastic settlement and where St Columba’s mother, Eithne, is said to be buried. While you are at Ellenabeich, take the ferry to Easdale (a very short distance) and walk round this pretty little island which was another of the slate-mining islands of the past.
Similar trips can also be arranged with Sea-Life Adventures on board Porpoise II, a comfortable hard boat suitable for all the family. The highly experienced skipper is a marine biologist with an in-depth knowledge of the local area, making for a fascinating experience. With a spacious cabin, toilet and refreshments on board, this is an excellent way to get to know the local area and its wildlife.
Another way to see the islands and explore the local area is on board one of Coastal Connections’ 11-metre cabined RIBs. Try their ‘wildlife and castles’ 2-hour trip from Oban or a day trip to Tobermory, giving you time to explore this picturesque village.
If you want to get closer to the wildlife and can kayak, then why not join up with a local sea kayaking guide who will show you the best that the area has to offer, including the Garvellachs, Corryvreckan whirlpool and local islands.
Luing community has two skiffs and the rowing club meets on a Tuesday evening at 7 o’clock, by the floating pontoon on your right as you leave Cullipool village. Go along and have a go, which you are welcome to do for a donation to the club funds.
Bicycles with trailers and tag-alongs can be hired from Sunnybrae Caravan Park which is just on the left as you rise up the road when leaving the ferry. Tel: 01852 314274.
Paula Roberts based at Toberonochy on Luing is very experienced in massage and Reiki, and is also a beauty therapist. Tel: 01852 314120 or 07842 166853.
Oban is set round a picturesque harbour from which there are regular ferries to many of the larger islands. It has a number of good places to eat, including a chocolate factory/cafe and the Waterfront seafood restaurant (right on the quay from which the island ferries depart), and there is a cinema, swimming pool, museum, distillery and a wide variety of shops. From Oban, you can take a ferry to the island of Kerrera (opposite the harbour). There is a good cafe there in the summer.