Chris SidwellsClaire VernonLorcan Healy
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Strolling Rathlin Island with Christopher and Jane Somerville

Posted on October 8, 2012 @ 5:06 PM in Walking

I had the great privilege and pleasure of hosting Christopher and Jane Somerville on Rathlin Island thanks to a request from Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland.

Christopher and Jane were delightful companions and I learned a lot from them. They are experts on birds, plants and nature in general and are very interested in Irish culture, music and literature – this led to great conversations and even a duet by Chris and myself on a Paul Brady song – Nothing but the same old story!!

Stonechat on Rathlin Island (L), Christopher Somerville and Sean Mullan on Rathlin Island (C), Bird's foot Trefoil on Rathlin Island (R)

Chris, a modest man with great knowledge, has written many books, travel and poetry, and some of them on Ireland. Check him out at

We spent the day on Rathlin strolling to Rue Point and taking in the Roonivoolin walk developed by the RSPB. It was a dream walk – peaceful and intense in its beauty. We were accompanied by stonechats and watched by hares. We passed several lakes including Ushet Lough where ‘model yacht racing’ regularly takes place.

We picnicked at a roofless kelp store – wonderful stone building – and thought of all the work that had taken place there and the people involved – now so empty and quiet. Oh it wasn’t so quiet – seals were sitting on the rocks and one seemed to be complaining about something according to its moans.

We encountered a ‘winged cow’ on Roonivoolin on our way back and couldn’t come up with any good explanation for this strange apparition.

Greylag geese on Rathlin Island (L), Seal at Ushet Port on Rathlin Island (C), Winged Cow on Ratlin Island (R)

We saw more seals in Mill Bay on our way back to the harbour to get our ferry. We stopped in at the boathouse museum and said hello to Tom McDonnell, an award winning nature photographer, who has produced great pictures and postcards of the wildlife on Rathlin.

Contentedly we returned to Ballycastle on Canna, a ship that had been in use in the Scottish islands and which Chris had been on 25 years before! – somehow it completed a perfect day.

Rathlin Island

Ushet Port with Fair Head beyond

Click here for route descriptions and detailed maps of Quality Walks on Rathlin Island. 

Sean Mullan
Sean Mullan  Walking Guide and Owner of Walk Talk Ireland

Sean runs Walk Talk Ireland bringing walkers to the Glens of Antrim and the Causeway Coast and then on to Donegal.

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