Words alone, no matter how finely woven, could never give a true impression of the rugged beauty of Tory, the indominatable spirit of its people or their rich cultural inheritance. Tory must be visited if one is even to begin to understand why this remote crag, two and a half miles long and three quarters of a mile wide, holds such an attraction for its inhabitants that they, like their forebears, endure the full fury of the North Atlantic winter for pleasure and the privilege of living here in summer.
Tory’s spectacular cliff scenery is complemented by a rich and varied history which is related in the islanders distinctive Gaelic. Colm Cille figures prominently in the history of this sacred island which he chose as a place of retreat and meditation for his monks. Shipwrecks, poitín smuggling and tales of violent storms have also been drawn into its folklore.
Nevertheless, it is neither the myths, the monastic ruins nor even the majestic cliffs which make the deepest impression on visitors to Tory. It is the islanders themselves, like all people who live in remote places and work hard to make a living, the islanders know how to enjoy themselves and they always make a stranger feel at home.
A-B. On disembarking at the pier, make your way to a T-junction (50m away) to view the mapboard of the island and loop. Turn left here.
B-C. Follow the surfaced road through the village past the round tower and ruins of old church (both on your left). Continue for a further 200m to reach a Y-junction where you veer left.
C-D. Now the loop follows a minor roadway running parallel to the shoreline. In the distance the lighthouse comes into view. Pass Loch O ’Dheas on your left and walk another 1km to reach the lighthouse gate. Turn right here.
D-E. Now the terrain changes to a ‘green’ road and sweeps off in an easterly direction. After 150m you pass Loch O’Thuaidh on your right and the roadway changes to a stone-paved surfaced. Reaching the ruins of an old barracks, turn left and follow the paved roadway to reach a small wooden cabin (Derek Hill’s cabin). Enjoy the view over Tor Ban before turning right. Keeping the cliffs on your left, follow the stony path to reach a viewing point which overlooks an old slipway. After 50m you reach a T-junction where you turn left.
E-A. Now the terrain changes to a stony roadway and as you travel in An Bhaile Thiar (West Village) becomes bounded by dry ditches on both sides. The roadway eventually joins the surfaced road in the village near the Round Tower. Turn left to return to the trailhead.