View previous topic | View next topic

John o' Groats

Page 2 of 3
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

suze
945411.  Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:29 pm Reply with quote

Sort of.

It is indeed possible to take a boat all the way from the Beauly Firth near Inverness to Loch Linnhe which runs from Fort William out to the sea. Your boat would pass through Loch Dochfour, Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy before reaching Loch Linnhe - but it would also pass through four sections of man-made canal with a total length of about 21 miles.

The first of those sections runs from the Beauly Firth to Loch Dochfour through Inverness, but it could be bypassed by using the River Ness - which runs parallel to the canal in places.

The second section runs from the southwest shore of Loch Ness at Fort Augustus to Loch Oich. Again there is a river - the River Oich - which runs parallel, although it is non-navigable.

The fourth and longest section runs from Gairlochy out to meet Loch Linnhe near Fort William; this section too has rivers running parallel.

But the third and shortest section of canal links Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. It's only about 1½ miles long, but there is no river which connects the two lochs - and so this 1½ mile stretch prevents the north of Scotland from being a natural island.

 
alai
946005.  Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:52 pm Reply with quote

I wouldn't say it's even an "unnatural" island, really, because the two parts are invariably connected by at least one closed set of lock gates. I guess begging the question of how you define the condition. (Several times I've heard bridges being characterised as "removing" island status, though I'm not sure that's most people's intuition.)

It's not hydrologically stable for a lake (sorry, I mean, loch!) to have two independent outflows on either side of a watershed, so in theory a landmass should "never" be subdivided by water in such a manner. (Though I understand that hydrologists consider the Great Lakes a small temporary glacier meltwater phenomenon, so "not stable" may be a somewhat relative concept.)

Though... there is a small amount of water that straddles the "continental divide" in North America, which is otherwise a more striking largescale watershed than most. Does that split the continent into two smaller (though both honkingly large) "islands"? It's a more contiguous "body" of water than the Scottish case, though at its height it's only inches deep.

 
suze
946137.  Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:04 am Reply with quote

alai wrote:
I wouldn't say it's even an "unnatural" island, really, because the two parts are invariably connected by at least one closed set of lock gates. I guess begging the question of how you define the condition. (Several times I've heard bridges being characterised as "removing" island status, though I'm not sure that's most people's intuition.)


Well, quite. I reckon that most people understand "island" to mean natural island - and so the erection of a bridge did not make Skye cease to be an island, and the cutting of a canal did not cause Northern Scotland to become one.

If one takes the alternative position - and some do - did the digging of a tunnel cause Great Britain no longer to be an island?


It gets really tricky when we consider the Isle of Thanet. Thanet was a true island until about 1500. When the Venerable Bede came visiting in the eighth century he wrote that Thanet lay three furlongs off the mainland, and it is known that travelers from London still had to use a ferry as of 1414. The Wantsum Channel has since silted up to the extent that a person traveling east to Thanet no longer has to cross water - although he does still have to cross a muddy ditch unless he avails himself of one of the bridges.

And after very heavy rainfall - most recently in 1953 - water once again flows through the Channel between the sea at Reculver and the River Stour, making Thanet a true island once more.

 
Prof Wind Up Merchant
946164.  Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:19 pm Reply with quote

Great Britain became an island due to erosion of rocks due to 2 major floods between the island and continental Europe at the Strait of Dover.

 
alai
946172.  Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:34 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Well, quite. I reckon that most people understand "island" to mean natural island - and so the erection of a bridge did not make Skye cease to be an island, and the cutting of a canal did not cause Northern Scotland to become one.

Skye was one of the places I've heard of described that way, all the same. Perhaps simply by way of rhetorical excess... Had it been a causeway (or a pair of lock gates!), I'd have been more inclined to give that one some credence.

Quote:
If one takes the alternative position - and some do - did the digging of a tunnel cause Great Britain no longer to be an island?

We can always have a separate case for tunnels, whatever we decide for bridges. :)

Quote:
It gets really tricky when we consider the Isle of Thanet. Thanet was a true island until about 1500.

I'm not sure that's one of the most marginal case, even just considering "natural" islands/non-islands. Various places in GB seem to have been historically considered "islands" in the strength of surrounding marshland, rather than standing or running water as such. (As well as the West Country and East Anglia, Scotland has various "inches" that are pretty blatantly inland.) In at least one instance, one island is commonly considered two, not because of too little land connection, but too much: too hilly, easier to get the boat!

 
suze
946210.  Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:27 pm Reply with quote

Would that be Lewis / Harris? I went there once; you'll never guess what, but it was raining in Steòrnabhagh.


I'm not sure how many genuine inshore islands there are in Britain. The Isle of Ely is not one, although it was until the C17, as was the Isle of Axholme.

Portsea Island - upon which most of Portsmouth stands - is still an island; it is connected to the mainland by five bridges. I cannot immediately discover when it was first bridged.

The Isle of Sheppey too is still an island, and there are two bridges. Until 1860 access was by ferry, although there are a few accounts which suggest that there was (briefly) a bridge, the Tremsethg Bridge, in the thirteenth century. (Archaeologists have looked for evidence of this bridge and not found any, but the accounts suggest that it was destroyed in a storm in about 1300, and not replaced for more than five hundred years.)

 
alai
946392.  Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:12 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Would that be Lewis / Harris? I went there once; you'll never guess what, but it was raining in Steòrnabhagh.

I'm shocked, simply shocked! Yes, that's the one. I imagine the various "peninsular islands", like the Black Isle, are named on the basis of similar logic, and The Long Isle is sorta like two peninsular islands glued together...

Quote:
I'm not sure how many genuine inshore islands there are in Britain.

There are several decent-sized islands in various Scottish lochs, most excessively in Loch Lomond, which has a positive plethora of them.

 
Efros
946394.  Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:16 pm Reply with quote

Loch Leven in Fife has a few as well. Townhill Loch in Dunfermline has what I believe is a man made island, I certainly don't remember it having one when I was a kid.

 
alai
946402.  Sat Oct 20, 2012 8:04 pm Reply with quote

Efros wrote:
Townhill Loch in Dunfermline has what I believe is a man made island, I certainly don't remember it having one when I was a kid.

Looks very reminiscent of the euripus of the Circus Maximus (yes, I had to that up!). I suspect uncoincidentally, given its use as a water-skiing centre.

 
Prof Wind Up Merchant
946505.  Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:33 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Steòrnabhagh.


A great word for The Pronunciation Challenge thread.

 
suze
946525.  Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:08 pm Reply with quote

Actually, it's quite easy - although it won't make sense from the spelling unless you know Scottish Gaelic.

STYAWN-a-vah.

The first syllable is like the way that English people say the Swedish name Björn, but with st- instead of b-.

Most people in that town in fact call it by its English name Stornoway most of the time, but it is the policy of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (formerly Western Isles Council) that the "official" forms of placenames are the Gaelic forms and not the English forms.

 
alai
946591.  Sun Oct 21, 2012 5:49 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Most people in that town in fact call it by its English name Stornoway most of the time [...]

One might argue that they're being Germanic Originalists, and aren't humouring this new-fangled Celticisation of the town name, and its mangling to conform to the vaguarities of Gaelic phonology!

 
suze
946592.  Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:24 pm Reply with quote

And in Steòrnabhagh, you'd probably find someone who actually would argue thus.

Well hey, it's only about nine hundred years since the leaders of Clan Mac Neacail went native and switched from Norse to Gaelic. Scarcely even yesterday, the way they think in those parts ...


More seriously, today only about half of the population of the town can speak Gaelic. In the rest of Lewis / Harris the proportion is rather higher, and approaches 100% in villages like Barabhas and Càrlabhagh.

There are reckoned to be about five hundred households in Lewis / Harris in which Gaelic is the "easy tongue", but probably only about twenty of those households are in town. (In almost all cases, elderly single or widowed women.)

If you hear teenagers or young adults talking on the street in Steòrnabhagh, they're doing it in English. But in those rural townships, they just might be doing it in Gaelic.

When we went into a pub in Steòrnabhagh, we did not hear the locals switch to Gaelic in the way that locals in rural Wales sometimes switch to Welsh. The only place where we did hear that happening was Dunvegan on Skye.

 
alai
947144.  Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:47 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
When we went into a pub in Steòrnabhagh, we did not hear the locals switch to Gaelic in the way that locals in rural Wales sometimes switch to Welsh. The only place where we did hear that happening was Dunvegan on Skye.

L&H were a ferry (and likely several more buses) too far for me, but when I visited the Uists, I observed much the same there. On Skye I merely felt I was perpetrating atrocities of placename pronunciation, but on the Out Isles it really seemed more like disobliging the locals from the default language entirely. (To be fair, we'd lucked on a "weather window" what was maybe about two months before what passes as a tourist season...)

On Father Ted II -- sorry, I mean, the series of An Island Parish notionally featuring Barra, but also spilling over to South Uist quite a bit -- there was a significant bit of code-switching happening, even with a film crew not merely present, but fairly actively inserting themselves into proceedings at times.

 
WordLover
947525.  Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 am Reply with quote

alai wrote:
It's not hydrologically stable for a lake (sorry, I mean, loch!) to have two independent outflows on either side of a watershed, so in theory a landmass should "never" be subdivided by water in such a manner.
Loch na Davie on Arran is exactly that unusual phenomenon. It is on a watershed and has an outflow each side. Iorsa Water flows southwest and meets the sea at Dougrie (also spelt Dougarie). Easan Biorach flows north and meets the sea at Lochranza.

alai wrote:
(Though I understand that hydrologists consider the Great Lakes a small temporary glacier meltwater phenomenon, so "not stable" may be a somewhat relative concept.)
That is taking a very large, long perspective!

alai wrote:
there is a small amount of water that straddles the "continental divide" in North America, which is otherwise a more striking largescale watershed than most. Does that split the continent into two smaller (though both honkingly large) "islands"?
My instinct is to say no, because the water is not all at the same level.

 

Page 2 of 3
Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group