Long-term readers of this blog may recall my great fondness for Scotland’s dispersed populations of feral goats, several groups of which have featured here over the years, from those on the Oa in Islay to the famous goats of Inversnaid (who inspired accompanying designs). To this group of goaty encounters, I can now add one with the herd who inhabit the intriguing tidal island off Carradale Point, in Kintyre, whose Gaelic name is (appropriately) Eilean nan Gobhar (goat island).
Carradale Point – to which we had taken a walk to visit a vitrified Iron Age fort – is accessible at low tide by picking one’s way over the rocks and brackish pools that line the shore. Imagine my excitement as we rounded the corner and came across a group of 30 or so nonchalant goat buddies hanging out in this wee cove!
I took charge of the dogs while Tom photographed our goat friends….
As Angus Martin (one of my all-time favourite Argyll writers) puts it: “in the presence of humans, goats will exhibit a degree of confident detachment uncommon among sheep. They will not start away immediately . . . but will coolly regard the oncoming intruder and make an orderly and timely retreat.”*
There are thought to have been goats on goat island for perhaps two or three centuries (as the old Gaelic name for this part of Carradale Point might attest), though when Martin was writing back in the 1980s, the population had significantly declined, due to (horror of horrors!) goat trophy hunters.
It was heartening to see, 40 years after Martin’s account, the herd of Carradale goats in such fine fettle, nibbling at the seaweed, and leaping nimbly over rocks.
If you enjoy goats and / or Iron Age archaelogy, Carradale Point is definitely worth a visit!
*Angus Martin, Kintyre: The Hidden Past (1984). A book with many things to recommend it – including a whole chapter about local goats!