Ailsa Craig, South Ayrshire
Alisa Craig is a granite rock, 1,114 feet high, circumference two miles is the plug of an extinct volcano and is now a bird sanctuary. Also remains of ruined castle to be seen. Boat trips around the island from Girvan. Situated 10 miles west.
Ailsa Craig was a haven for Roman Catholics during the Scottish Reformation. In 1831, the twelfth earl of Cassillis became first Marquess of Ailsa, taking the title from the Craig, which was his property.
From the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, the island was quarried for its rare type of micro-granite with riebeckite (known as "Ailsite") which was used to make curling stones. The floor of the Chapel of the Thistle in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh is also made of this rock.
Ailsa Craig is now uninhabited, the lighthouse having been automated in the 1970s and the quarry long since disused.
The island is now a bird sanctuary. Huge numbers of gannets nest here and following a pioneering technique to eradicate the island's imported population of rats a growing number of puffins are choosing to return to the Craig from nearby Glunimore and Sheep Islands. Also important are the black-backed gulls, guillemots, razorbills, shags, fulmars, kittiwakes and herring gulls.