The shortest ferry ride to the island nobody's heard of: is this Scotland's best kept secret?

We holiday to a luxurious new destination

It might be a slight exaggeration to say that nobody has heard of the island of Luing.

There’s the 200 or so people who live there, of course.

However, I wonder if those who holiday to this Inner Hebridean destination, might have been gatekeeping, so they can keep paradise all to themselves.

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WildLuing exterior shotWildLuing exterior shot
WildLuing exterior shot

No longer. I feel very happy to have discovered a reason to visit, thanks to WildLuing - the self-catering retreat, which is run by the Cadzow family, who own the island and were responsible, in 1947, for creating its eponymous breed of cattle.

Their new destination is a short - I’m talking three minutes - ferry ride from South Cuan, which is about a 30 minutes drive from Oban.

On docking, it’s then just five minutes to the eight WildSuites, each sleeping two, and all of which overlook the sheltered Torsa Bay in the Firth of Lorn, where you can spot sea otters and porpoises, while seals lounge on skerries and a fishing boat, named Chancer, gently sways on the waves.

These comfortable and dog-friendly pods-with-a-view were created by couple Jack and Emily Cadzow, along with Jack’s brother Archie, and have been built by local craftspeople.

Emily, Archie and Jack CadzowEmily, Archie and Jack Cadzow
Emily, Archie and Jack Cadzow

Each is individually designed, and some have bathrooms in the main living area while others, like Losal, where we’re staying, offer a more traditional bathroom set-up.

We’ve also got a neat but well kitted out kitchenette with breakfast bar and a covered porch with outdoor seating, where we have our coffee as the sunlight streams in at breakfast-time. There’s also a living area with a comfortable couch, and a vast king-sized bed, which can also be configured into twins. No telly, but the WiFi is perfect here, so take your laptop if you’re not digitally detoxing.

I would quite happily stay in Losal for a fortnight, without feeling squashed.

For bigger groups, they also have The Observatory - a central and separate space, which acts as an additional room for gatherings and parties, complete with a catering and dining area.

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The Observatory insideThe Observatory inside
The Observatory inside

All these buildings blend beautifully into the lush landscape.

You can watch as the chestnut-coloured Luing cattle come right down to the water’s edge to graze on the rough grasses, which are dotted with buttercups, yellow irises and thrift.

These flowers look even brighter when contrasted against the local stone. The Slate Islands, which include Easdale, Luing and Seil, are often described as ‘the islands that roofed the world’, as they were quarried for that inky-coloured material, which is studded with iron pyrites or fool’s gold.

The first quarry was opened in 1751, with a high level of activity in the 19th century. That industry has long died out, but you’ll see the sedimentary rock all over the island, and, down at Torsa Bay, the squarer pieces make ideal skimming material. (Maybe that’s why we didn’t spot the local sea otters, though we did see their dinner remnants of crab claws).

Twin beds in one of the podsTwin beds in one of the pods
Twin beds in one of the pods

If you explore the tiny island, which is just six miles long and 1.5 miles wide, make sure to stop at Kilchattan Old Churchyard, where graves are marked by thin slate headstones, all covered in blooms of lichen. You’ll also find Viking sketches of longboats on their ruined chapel’s old walls.

It’s also worth stopping by the whitewashed cottages in the pretty village of Toberonochy.

To discover more about that settlement, and Luing’s history, visit the Atlantic Island Centre in Cullipool. They’re also your destination for lunch, or cake, perhaps after you’ve climbed to one of the island’s highest trig points, as we did, and earned the additional calorie intake.

Alternatively, eat in your WildSuite. The Cadzows have brought a young couple over to the island, to help with the business. According to them, Luing has a dearth of working age people, and, one of these new locals, Kitty, prepared a couple of amazing dishes. We had lasagne, made with Luing beef and followed by sticky toffee pudding one night, then pheasant in tarragon sauce and brownies the next, with two mains and two puddings costing £35 for guests.

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Luing might be pocket-sized, but two nights didn’t seem enough.

If we’d been staying longer, we might have taken part in some wild swimming or joined the kayakers who we saw navigating the bay.

How did THEY find out about this island? I only wish someone had shared the secret with me sooner.

A night at a WildSuite starts from £195 per night, sleeping two. See They’re offering a Tastes of WildLuing package with The Wild Cooke, for two, from August 9-11 including two nights, Friday barbecue pack, foraging walk, lunch, drinks masterclass, evening feast and local breakfast hamper, £660.

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