A recent visit to the beautiful Isle of Islay, provided an opportunity to undertake some land based wreck hunting. Islay is blessed with an abundance of shipwrecks around its coastline, not least because of its exposure to Atlantic storms, but also its location close to the main shipping routes to the Clyde, Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin.
The target was the wreck site of the Cardiff owned steamship Belford which turned out to be a 3 km walk from Saligo north to Smaull on the west coast of the island. The Belford was disabled 200 miles west of Queenstown after hitting a derelict (semi-submerged wreck), incredibly she floated along the western seaboard of Ireland and Scotland for 10 days before being driven ashore on the north west coast of Islay on 9 February 1916.
Ian Crawford and I first located and dived the wreck in June 1992, but I wanted to try and locate the viewpoint of the photograph that had helped us locate the wreck site.
The above picture must have been been taken between the 10-11 February as the wreck completely disappeared from view during a storm on Sunday 13 February. The location proved to be on the steep northern flank of Dun Bheolain – a craggy headland, and the picture below shows my viewpoint with an image of the Belford wreck photo of 1916 superimposed.
The aerial photograph below has the outline of the Belford shown in red, although there is little of substance of the wreck remaining. The remains have been pounded by successive Atlantic storms over the 107 years since her loss until completely fragmented, any brass remains have been shot blasted so that they are shiny and almost gold in colour underwater. The only structure recognisable in 1992 were items such as a boiler, winch, engine parts and propshaft.
Mission accomplished and an enjoyable walk along the west coast of Islay. If you would like to read the tragic story of the loss of the Belford please follow this link