What happened on Gruinard Island?

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The west coast of Scotland is truly one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Towering and not so towering, Monroe’s dominate the landscape of lochs, peat moors and the occasional Pine Forest. It runs from Stranraer in the South to Durness in the North. Along the way, you’ll see some incredible sights. Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde, the towns of Ayr, Oban and Ullapool and Mallaig. You’ll see the islands of the Inner Hebrides, like Skye and the Outer ones, in the distance when you get near the top end. The famous Mull of Kintyre is part of it, as is the Skye bridge. Inverewe gardens, kept lush by the prevailing waters and winds of the gulf stream, see plants that are usually impossible to grow so far north flourish. There is Applecross and the famous Pass of the Cattle if you dare to drive it. It’s a wild and mysterious region, and it’s no wonder there are a number of folk and ghostly tales about the place.

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One of those tales tells of an Island out in the middle of a loch. It is deadly to enter. All of the livestock died, and the public was banned from it for decades. Even to this day, it is said to be a place that few will willingly set foot on. Its name was Gruinard Island.

There is no myth or legend about the island. It’s perfectly valid that it was unsafe to enter, and with good reason. In 1942, with the Second World war raging, scientists at Porton Down, the country’s top biological warfare site, were worried about what would happen if the Germans dropped a biological bomb on London or if the fifth columnists attempted to poison the water supply. Instead, they introduced anthrax spores to the isolated island to see the effects on the land. So they moved the six people living on it off first (and didn’t let them back on it). Then, over the years, the scientists came back in full biological suits to test flora and fauna. All of the animals died and were incinerated. The land showed signs of anthrax spores for decades.

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The island has since been subjected to the work of some Land Remediation Company like https://www.ashremediation.co.uk/. It’s now believed to be safe for human and animal occupation, but there is always that nagging doubt about the island that keeps people away from it.


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