Whilst on the Natural Retreats install at John O’Groats, our Senior Designer Melanie got the opportunity to visit the island of Stroma. She took lots of beautiful pictures and wrote a dairy of her trip for us:
We tracked down a friend of William, who is the islands owner/farmer who very kindly organised a trip to Stroma for us.
We met with William down at Gill Harbour who then took us to the abandoned island on his boat ‘Boy James’, with 6 fellow explorers.
In amongst the hundreds of sheep there are around 100 abandoned cottages on the island and we managed to explore around 10 of them. As we stepped into the first one we were immediately wowed, it was like walking back in time, it was really amazing from what we could see through all the sheep muck, collapsed walls, stairs and broken ceilings. It was interesting to walk through the cottages and put all the pieces (that are left) together to make a story of how the people who once occupied the island used to live. We had a glimpse of their self-sufficient lifestyle and of an era gone by.
As a designer it was amazing to see how the decor, woodwork and furniture designs that were beautifully handmade hundreds of years ago, the simple designs that have been brought forward and are still used today.
Seeing how the cottages and all the beautiful artisan craft have been completely abandoned was actually quite sad. The sense that the cottages have literally been stepped out of in 1962 (when the last families left the island) and left completely neglected to rot and crumble in sheep muck!
We managed to check out the beautiful ‘Geo’ (which is like a cove) where we found some shipwrecks and we sat for a while and watched the puffins. We also went to explore Stroma graveyard, which proved just how old and amazing the island is, the gravestones showed that a lot of the people died young at sea.
There is one house still liveable on the island, where the farmer stays during lambing season, as well as a beautiful chapel and lighthouse.
There was a lot to explore and I could have happily stayed there for days!