Ard Neackie Lime Kilns – Heilam, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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Ard Neackie Lime Kilns

Heilam, Scotland

The ruins of a defunct limestone quarry still haunt this Scottish promontory.  


Ard Neakie is a craggy peninsula jutting out into Loch Eriboll connected to the mainland only by a thin isthmus of sand linking it to the east shore.

The Countess of Sutherland and her husband the Marquis of Stafford bought the Reay estate from the Mackays in 1829.

The lime kilns on Ard Neackie are a powerful reminder of a time when trade and travel were much more reliant on the waters. The lime kilns were built around 1870 and were once used for the production of large amounts of lime used in farming for reclaiming peaty land, which was loaded onto ships at the pier here and transported to be sold. 

It is thought the kilns were fueled with coal or coke brought to the kilns by sea via the pier in front of them, though peat could have been used. After burning the quicklime would be removed through the large draw holes at the front. A track leads up the hill to the top of the kilns where carts would unload limestone and coal straight into the shafts (these are barely enclosed and very deep, so be careful when exploring).

The cart track also leads to a quarried area in the middle of the island conveniently close to the kilns, which is now flooded but is perfect for skimming stones nowadays. 

The two-story building is what was once the Ferry House built in 1831, acted as the ferry keepers home. The almost obliterated crest above the door once contained the Sutherland/Stafford family crest. The nearby pier built sometime in the early 19th-century would have served the Portnancon-Heilem ferry until it ceased operation in the 1890s, when the road around the loch was completed.

Loch Eriboll (one of the deepest sea lochs in Scotland) has a fascinating history of its own as it was the place where the 33 surviving U-boats formally surrendered at the end of the Second World War. 

Know Before You Go

There is a small area for parking at the top of the track down to the kilns.

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