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54 Responses so far.

  1. Mike says:

    Where is the nearest place to park a vehicle to walk to Almorness point ?

  2. John Clayton says:

    I was first taken to Hestan Island in 1959 when I was doing A levels by Dr Day our science lecturer . For several years after that we camped on the island taken there by Eddie Parker on his boat or tractor depending on the state of the tide. We were marooned one year by south west gales and a neap tide when we ate seagull eggs and mussels to supplement our diminished food supply .
    Hestan is a very special place for me and my family . Every year we attempt to visit usually by sea kayak from Kippford ,brew a drink of tea,go to look at Elephant rock ,paddle into the cave by Daft Anne’s Steps then back past the lighthouse.
    When I first went, there were no cormorants nesting and Almoness Point had a thriving colony of herring and lesser black back gulls.
    I do remember going into the coppermine (around 1960 )the entrance is now collapsed, south of Elephant Rock but have been unable to find it since. Any information? Good to see that Eddie Parker is remembered.
    John Clayton

    • Peter Grant says:

      I was with you on Hestan in 1960 together with Geoff who did the geology, your brother Edward was there as well when we did our botanical and geological survey.
      I still have the notes from that episode.
      A pity we lost touch when we both went to college.
      When I married, my wife and I had our honeymoon in the cottage on Hestan, and we returned there for our 25th anniversary.
      In 1996 we started a small private Press making limited edition letterpress printed books (of poetry mainly). Looking for a Press name – what better than Hestan Isle Press?
      My wife died in 2020, and I still live only 40 miles away from the island – though as yet I have not been back to Auchencairn Bay.
      About the mine:
      The miners were (in 1840-41) Peter Gourlay, Stewart Gourlay, and Samuel Gourlay.
      “The main shaft of the mine is six feet in height, two and a half feet wide, and totals eighty feet in length. The first part of the shaft runs ten degrees north of east, and is fifty feet long, and the second part runs twenty degrees north of east for thirty-five feet…”

      Frances and I produced a “box-book” about Hestan called “A Special Island” in 2017.
      Only four copies were produced, and I still have a spare copy (!)
      It’s lovely to read how exciting and special this island is to all sorts of people.

      Peter Grant

      • John Clayton says:

        Just picked up your reply to your information on Hestan …..:after so long thanks to our daughter who saw it.
        I had a brief visit by sea kayak with a friend last summer but had to return quickly due to increasing wind . It would be good to recall old times. Perhaps we could be in touch by e mail ?

  3. Rachael Hattersley says:

    I have very much enjoyed reading all the history and all these comments
    Thank you so much

  4. Val Grantham Dykes says:

    It was lovely to discover this site. As a child In the 1970’s a few of my relatives used to rent the cottage from a local fisherman called Ed Parker twice each year. He used to fish using the nets on the side of the island and look after the lighthouse. I have fond memories of our holidays, enjoying the simple pleasures such as fishing, swimming, picnics on the beach & walking to the top of the island to Fly kites

  5. Maggie Barker says:

    I am now in my mid 70’s and woke up this morning remembering when, as a child of 6 or 7 visiting Hestan Island . We knew Jimmy Butler a fisherman who lived with his wife JeanAnne in Kippford. He delivered provisions to the Lighthouse keeper by boat and we went with him several times. The keeper lived with his wife and children – I think there were 3. His wife was very shy and I remember she always wore dark socks – probably his! Life must have been tough for them. I wonder what became of the children as they must now be in their 70’s? Eventually of course the lighthouse was mechanised so I believe the family had to move to the mainland.

  6. Alison Holgate says:

    Ive read there was a book written by the lady who last lived on the island.
    We have walked around here today and are very interested in the story.
    Does anyone know about it please

    • John R says:

      On a Galloway Island by Beryll M Scott,

    • Ian Simpson says:

      I happen to be reading it just now. It’s called…. On a Galloway Island

    • Peter Grant says:

      The book I think you mean is”On a Galloway Island” by the Rev. Beryl Scott who lived there in the 1950’s. The book was self-published ISBN 0-9546355-0-7. There are three copies available on
      My wife and I spent our honeymoon on the island, and have produced a “box book” csalled “A Special Island” in an edition of only four copies, the last one of which is for sale at £85 including postage. We started a private press in 1996 called The Hestan Isle Press. Please visit it at Best Wishes, Peter

  7. Daniel Wood says:


    I am a researcher at Bangor University looking into how plants, particularly Sea Campion, cope with metal contaminated soils near old mines. I was wondering whether any Sea Campion has been seen growing on the island, or on the remains of the copper mines?

    • David says:

      I would only notice if it was growing now that you have mentioned it!!

      I was hoping to go back to the island this summer and do a bit more of an in depth photographic study of Flora and Fauna.

      Do you have an image of the plant for identification purposes?


  8. William Brennan says:

    Can I get a boat from Kipford to drop me off at Heston for a few hours?

  9. Steve says:

    Hi, Can you camp in the garden of the cottage?

    • David says:

      HI Steve.

      The Cottage is a private Let so camping is not permitted inside the fenced area. There is a small area just beside the bench and Information board which is reasonably level for pitching a small tent, I would keep clear of the top of the island as the seagulls might turn your green tent white in a short space of time!!


  10. Julie Lowden says:

    Hi can u stay in the cottage for a weekend what are the prices thankyou

  11. BOB says:


  12. Buzz says:

    Great website..very interesting indeed. Just wanted to find out if the cottage on the Island is up for holiday letting at all?

  13. Pete says:


    Great website. Have been to Hestan many times either by plodging across the low tide mud from Balcary bay or by traversing almonds point and taking the causeway.

    I am visiting Rockcliffe this year and want to walk over from there. The only problem is the river and how to get across it. Is it easy enough to wade through it at low tide to get across to the far headland and walk across to Hestan from there?

    Thanks in advance for you advice.

    • David says:

      Hi Peter.
      I think the general concensus would be to walk from the other side from Auchencairn. The river on that side is smaller. Make sure and check your tide times and levels. From memory you can walk out from achencairn side with the outgoing tide to maximise time on the island.

      • Pete Coates says:

        Thanks for the advice. Having a rest day today after a wonderful walk in the Galloway rain across Almorness Point in the end and over the rack to Hestan. Went with my uncle and cousin in law (is that a thing?) who also enjoyed the adventure.

        The Almorness route is a good one. The kind people of the Almorness estate have provided a small car park at the entrance to the estate. This website For (has a great walking route over Almorness point which creates a great adventure over wild terrain with Hestan the icing on the cake at the end. Be prepared to lose the track and trek through ferns and scramble up, down and around rocks though!

        Arrived at the tip of Almorness about an hour before low tide after 20 minutes the rack had fully revealed itself, giving us half an hour on the island before making the return journey. Lots of nesting birds at this time of year so avoided doing a full circuit so as not to disturb. If you want to see everything it’s probably fairer to arrive outside of the June-August time. Instead we climbed to the highest point behind the cottage ( most of the nesting is on the east and west slopes) and enjoyed the views.

        5th time there now and can’t wait to go back again!

  14. Kevin McCann says:

    Hi. Great site. I am just seeking some help. My ancestor James McVinnie is listed on the 1861 Census (Scotland) as having his address as Isle Of Heston (Hestan Island). Would anyone have any information on what he would have been doing living on the Island? Previous to this on the 1851 Census he was a farmer at Barlea, Lochrutton. He was born in 1811 in Borgue and married a Margaret Smith from New Abbey.
    Secondly, do any boats in the vincinty make trips across to the island and where would they sail from?

    • john whalen says:

      hi, you can walk to hestan at low tide. There is a causeway.

    • Peter Caton says:

      I have a little information on James McVinnie in my book No Boat Required – Exploring Tidal Islands, which has a chapter on Hestan Island. I believe that he was a sheep farmer and that his wife died on the island in 1873.

    • Wendy Haynes says:

      Hi Kevin, have only just found this while randomly searching on the internet! I too am descended from James McVinnie (through his daughter Agnes, who was my great great grandmother) so would love to compare notes and see how we are related. Have you made it to the island yet? I visited in 2011, by walking across the causeway. Wendy

  15. Tevya says:

    Hi just trying to find out some history. Found a document with a family tree and It says my great-great-great grandparent Frederika Wood (nee Selby) owned an island called Hestan island. I’d like to know if this is true?
    Thanks in advance.

  16. Mark Peckham says:

    Hello. I’m originally from Portling (and knew Bob McWilliam from there – fellow auxiliary coastguard), but although we tried when I was wee to get to Hestan, our family were also thwarted by the tides and spent several hours just on the beach at Balcary. Although the walk from Balcary is longer, could that be a better way to reach the island than from Almorness Point? Any advice welcome (planning to visit around Easter 2015). Thanks, Mark

    • Fiona Grierson says:

      Mark, you just need to ask the locals for a boat trip from Kippford or Rockcliffe. Those who were at primary school with you will be happy to help – I’m a couple of years late with this post, but I’m sure you’ll be back!

  17. Linda hughes says:

    That would be my fathers side of the family, my grandparents were frank hughes & jessie(agnes)mcwilliam

  18. ian kell says:

    How does one get to the island, is there anyway except by boat? I see its sometimes dry but that is not every low tide and the walking seems to allow a very short time. I have been a regular visitor to the area since 1966 and have always wanted to visit Hestan Island. Is it possible to camp?

    • Pedro T says:

      It is possible to walk out to island from mainland ( from Almorness) but only during special conditions. You need to look out for the biggest tides(9m or bigger) and best if atmospheric pressure is high( makes for a lower tide). You must be ready to walk out as tide is still falling to get the best chance for this excursion and you ought to budget for a short stay( less than an hour) and then make your way carefully back across the Rack to Almorness point.
      Better by far to visit by boat!!
      A very special place, certainly for me.

      • Peter Caton says:

        I would agree with that advice. It is what I did when visiting Hestan Island for my book No Boat Required, but it took me two attempts to get there. On the first occasion I sat on the rocks waiting for the tide to clear and it never did – I wasn’t then aware that you can only walk across on some tides. Tide times and heights can be found on EasyTide website. The second time I walked as Pedro T describes but didn’t stay long on the island for fear of being cut off. Also note that Almorness Point isn’t that easy to get to. The first time I walked from Palnackie via Horses Isles Bay and the second I had a car, parked near Almorness House and walked over the hill (this was more direct but easy to get lost!).

      • Pedro T says:

        Visited Hestan again today ( 2nd July 15) Friends and I went out in our small fishing boat, which we launched at slipway in Kippford. Had a look at the cottage, which I assume is a holiday let. Anyone taking cottage on for a holiday, better take plenty of books(and wine) and be happy with their own company. Still ranks as a special place though!!

  19. Basil and Anne Smith says:

    We knew David and Anne as Anne’s mother lives next door to us in Pannal. All lovely people. David always found the time for a chat as he loved talking to people and as I am a historian and write books of this area we had lots to talk about and we all love walking. He will be sadly missed. Keep seeing him walking along Mary’s (his mother-in-law) drive and cheerily waving. R.I.P. David

  20. Ralph Murdie-Thomas says:

    My Great Uncle Robert McWilliams and Great Aunt Agnes (Nancy) were lighthouse keepers on Heston. I am not exactly sure of the time frame but it was probably in the 1920s. I have pictures of them and others on the Island. I am related to them from both side of my family tree. My Great Uncle Robert was my Grandmother Cristina Mcwilliams-Murdie’s brother. My Great Aunt Agnes (Nancy) was my Grandfather Robert Murdie’s sister. The McWilliams were born in Auchencairn, I believe the lived in the mill house. There were 17 siblings, and the Murdies were from Moniave, there were 13 siblings. This makes for a lot of cousins.
    Cheers from New Brunswick Canada, where my grandparents Robert and Cristina Murdie emigrated to in 1928.

  21. David O says:

    Any link to the family name Haston?

    • I am deeply sorry re the loss of David Brown who sadly drowned off Hestan island on friday, my deepest sympathy to his family & friends.
      May Fraser daughter of Bob & Nancy Mc William ( Who grew up there & lived there for 20 years)
      Sheila Fraser ( Mays daughter)

      • Steve Dumpleton says:

        We were shocked and saddened to learn of David Brown’s death. He was a friend and orchestral colleague for over thirty years. We stayed with David and his family on Hestan for a week, back in the 1980s. David loved the island and often spoke to me about it since that time. He had expert knowledge of the Rack and the tidal currents around the island; what a desperate thing to happen that the sea nevertheless claimed his life.

        Our heartfelt sympathy goes to his family and all his friends. He will be so missed.

        Steve Dumpleton, Sheffield.

  22. Ken Robb says:

    I am surprised there is no mention on your website of association with Rathan Island of SR Crockett’s “The Raiders”?

    Ken Robb

  23. Peter Caton says:

    I visited Hestan a few years ago for my book No Boat Required, for which I visted all 43 tidal islands which can be walked to from the mainland of England, Scotland & Wales.

    It was one of the more difficult islands to get to and my first attempt failed as I hadn’t realised it isn’t ‘dry’ on every low tide. There’s a chapter in the book covering the history and some of the people who’ve lived on Hestan. I hope to go back one day.

  24. Sheila Fraser says:

    Re-visted Heston at w/e with my Mum May Fraser, who lived there for 18 years.It was lovely that she could see inside the cottage & see the postive changes the current tennants are making.She has lots of stories, which I am trying to get her to write down. S

    • Dr John Ashley says:


      I would so much like to hear Mum’s stories, so if you are successful in getting her to commit to paper I would love to read them please. I dream of Auchencairn shore road and the island so much when I work abroad.

      Thank you, and greetings from the Holy Land.

      John Ashley

      • Mum wrote a short story about her childhood on Heston in Auchancairn news autumn 1998, I think it is available in Auchencairn historical society, (online). My Grandfather was the light house keeper betewen 1929-1948 & he also had stake nets for white fish, cod & flounders. They had a small croft on the island also with 2 cows,1 pig, 2 horses to plough & cart hay, plus ducks & hens. Mum went to school at Auchencairn & then Castle Douglas.She crossed the estuary from the island to near Balcary attend school with suitable tides.Hope to kayak there this summer. S

  25. sonya sandhu says:

    someone mentioned to me that you can rent the cottage on hestan island, do you know anything off this please ?

  26. paul donnelly says:

    is it ok to camp on the island?

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