Path to Iolaire Monument opens

Councillor Angus McCormack officially opens the path to the Iolaire Monument. Photograph: Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

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The Iolaire Memorial section of the Point and Sandwick Trail has been officially opened on the Isle of Lewis.

The path, which is part of the planned 40km coastal trail from Stornoway to Sandwick and around the Point Peninsula was opened by councillor Angus McCormack, with invited guests including Iain Macaulay, Lord Lieutenant, Malcolm Macdonald of the Stornoway Historical Society, John Mackay, councillor for Ness and the Lewis, and Harris Youth Pipe Band.

The 1km addition has created a new section of path from Lower Sandwick, following the shoreline before turning up to the top of Cnoc nan Poll Urra and on to the Iolaire Memorial site. The path links existing routes from Stornoway via Newton and Sandwick Bay to the Monument which commemorates the disaster on New Year’s Eve 1919.

The new path section at Lower Sandwick. Photograph: Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos.

The route has been planted with 201 trees, each marked with a slate engraved with the name and village of each man lost in the Iolaire tragedy. With significant attention to detail, the trees are planted as geographically close to each man’s home as possible along the route.

‘As you enter the path at Lower Sandwick, trees are planted for the eight Stornoway sailors, five Harris men and two Berneray (Harris) sailors to the right. The path winds on and to the left are planted fifty-one trees for the Ness and West side men.

Nearer to Stoneyfield Farm are trees for the eleven Tolsta sailors and nine men from Back and Vatisker. Thirty-nine Point sailors are honoured towards the Iolaire site and on the right, fifty-six sailors from Lochs, Uig and Bernera.

Close to the end of the path sit trees for the eighteen English sailors on the right and trees at the gate for the two Scottish mainland sailors. The last of these is planted in memory of the signal boy from Aberdeen, David Macdonald, only 17 years old.

The new section of path, built by the Point and Sandwick Coastal Community Path (PSCCP) has been made possible via a funding grant of £104,000 from the Scottish Government’s Healthy Island Fund and links existing routes from Stornoway via Newton and Sandwick Bay to the Iolaire Memorial at Holm Point.

Nicola MacSween, secretary of the PSCCP, said: ‘The creation of this vital section of the ‘Point & Sandwick Trail’ is a long held, community aspiration in the widest sense and landowners, Iain Scott and family have been pivotal in its realisation.’

NO_T18_Iolaire Monument path opening_01_Photograph Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

Councillor Angus McCormack officially opens the path to the Iolaire Monument. Photograph: Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

NO_T18_Iolaire Monument path opening_02_Photograph Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

The new path section at Lower Sandwick. Photograph: Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos