On the last weekend in September, people from around the world head to a tiny Scottish island, each hoping to earn themselves a world champion title.
Easdale Island is a tiny little island (population: 62) that was once the heart of the Scottish slate mining industry. But after a storm in 1881 flooded the quarries, the mining equipment was stranded underwater, with no way of retrieving them.
Easdale recovered from this loss and now has a thriving tourist industry. The islanders put the disused quarries to good use for swimming, and more recently, the World Stone Skimming Championships.
The World Stone Skimming Championship began in 1983 after an alleged argument in the island’s only pub over who could skim stones the farthest. The competition was resurrected again in 1997 and has continued to grow in popularity. It now attracts competitors from as far afield as Japan and New Zealand.
Winning the championship is no easy feat, as competitors must follow a set of strict rules. Each contender, who must use stones made of naturally formed Easdale slate, only has three attempts, and the skimmed stone has to bounce on the surface of the water at least two times to be considered valid. Fortunately, there are several categories for entrants to compete within, including one for “old tossers.”
It’s a joyful, at times whimsical, event. People don all sorts of costumes, so scanning the crowd is just as fun as skimming the stones.
Know Before You Go
The GPS coordinates lead to the Easdale Island Community Center, which is where you can register for the event.
There are no cars on Easdale. All luggage is transported by wheelbarrow. A frequent five-minute ferry service runs from Ellenabeich on the neighboring Isle of Seil, which is connected to the Scottish mainland by the famous Bridge Over the Atlantic. Accommodation on the island has to be booked well in advance for the championships, though Oban isn't too far away should you be prepared to travel.