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Gruinard Mist

By dalischone  
Taken from Gruinard Hill, the view is of Gruinard Bay looking across one of its three beautiful beaches, which has pink sand from the Torridonian sandstone. The mist held the coast that day although the sun was shining down, it really did give the area an eerie feel. Although this area is known for its outstanding beauty it also has a dark side.

Gruinard Island is a small island located in Gruinard Bay, which is about halfway between Gairloch and Ullapool. In 1942, during World War II, the British government took over Gruinard Island and tested what may have been the world's first anthrax bomb. It was used to test the vulnerability of Britain against a German attack and to check on the feasibility of attacking Germany with a biological weapon.

About a dozen sheep were taken to the island, and bombs filled with anthrax spores were exploded close to where groups were tethered. The sheep became infected with anthrax and began to die within days of exposure. After all the tests were completed, British scientists concluded that a large scale release of anthrax spores would thoroughly pollute German cities, rendering them uninhabitable for decades afterwards.

Concerned about spreading anthrax to populated areas, the government stopped the tests on Gruinard in 1943 and closed the island to boat and air traffic. It was also noted that several other local villages may have been infected.

Subsequent decontamination attempts on the island were unsuccessful due to the durability of anthrax spores. As a result, Gruinard Island was quarantined and remained a no-go area for many years afterward. Visits to the island were strictly prohibited. Starting in 1986 a company was paid half a million pounds, and a determined effort was made to decontaminate the island, with 280 tonnes of formaldehyde solution diluted in seawater being sprayed over all 520 acres of the island, and the worst-contaminated topsoil around the dispersal site being removed. A flock of sheep was then placed on the island. The flock remained healthy. On April 24, 1990, after 48 years of quarantine, the then-junior defence minister, Michael Neubert, visited the island and announced its safety by removing the "Landing is Prohibited" signs. In its place, a small plaque was lain at the foot of a simple sculture. It read: For air, stone and the equilibrium of understanding. Welcome back Gruinard.

Tags: Scotland Wester ross Landscape and travel Gruinard bay

Voters: graeme34, kencbr, dawnmichelle and 31 more

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1 Sep 2007 3:16PM


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kencbr 10 4 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2007 3:17PM
nice capture
1 Sep 2007 3:18PM
Beautiful shot. The intro was was wonderful as well.
Dawn Michelle
1 Sep 2007 3:19PM
Lovely photograph and an interesting narative. Thanks for posting and well done.

KBan 11 494 4 England
1 Sep 2007 3:21PM
great colours Trace
dalischone 12 295 Scotland
1 Sep 2007 3:29PM
Many thanks everyone for your lovely comments and encouragement, very much appreciated.

jaktis Plus
12 84 Sweden
1 Sep 2007 3:59PM
Lovely blue tones

Snapper Plus
11 4.1k 3 United States Outlying Islands
1 Sep 2007 4:01PM
Strong deep blues are nicely balanced by the warmth in the foreground grass and the faraway beach, and I don't think the shot would work so well without them. Was this taken on 22 August by any chance as we had similar fog at Lochinver and Oldshoremore that day?
ChristineL 11 39 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2007 4:19PM
a really interesting story and a new one to me. I knew they did tests, but not where.
A lovely view with great colour and the mist makes it even better,
jmw58 10 1 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2007 4:48PM
Lovely image Smile

dalischone 12 295 Scotland
1 Sep 2007 5:51PM
Many thanks everyone for your lovely comments, very much appreciated.

fentiger Plus
15 916 23 England
1 Sep 2007 5:56PM
This is a great landscape Tracy well composed with a good range of attractive colours. Well done

IMO though I think you could improve the image by removing that bit of fencing (by cropping or cloning) in the bottom LH corner.

1 Sep 2007 6:04PM
gorgeous colour - off there myself in October - I will be happy to get an image half as good
dalischone 12 295 Scotland
1 Sep 2007 6:15PM
Many thanks Albert and Doug much appreciated.

Albert thanks for your advice, I tried cropping it out but it just didn't look right to me, if I'd tried to clone it out it would have looked a mess - lol Smile

A stunning photo with the deep colours, mountains and the mist. Very interesting accompanying information. JNC
1 Sep 2007 10:59PM
Very eloquent and informative, oh and the picture is pretty good too!

dalischone 12 295 Scotland
1 Sep 2007 11:16PM
Many thanks Jean Noel and Simon, your comments always very much appreciated.

rhion 13 35 United Kingdom
2 Sep 2007 10:18AM
That is a stunning photograph Tracy - magical with that mist.
Thanks for the write-up too, I wa aware of the first part (tagic story it is too) but the bit about the plaque etc was news to me. Adds a lot to it all.
kinfatric 12 550 9 Scotland
2 Sep 2007 12:59PM
aye the things they do Tracy, but alls well now.....hopefully. Nice layers in the shot
emefbee 10 116 England
2 Sep 2007 1:10PM
Breathtaking. Thanks for the info too. The world was as mad then as it is now!
dalischone 12 295 Scotland
2 Sep 2007 2:19PM
Many thanks Richard, Kin and Matt for your comments and encouragement, very much appreciated.

trissie 10 United Kingdom
2 Sep 2007 5:29PM
A beautiful capture and a very interesting story.

dalischone 12 295 Scotland
2 Sep 2007 6:25PM
Many thanks Trish, much appreciated.

csr 9 3 England
2 Sep 2007 11:05PM
Looks fab nice one
dalischone 12 295 Scotland
3 Sep 2007 1:52AM
Many thanks Chris, much appreciated.

chrissd 10 304 United Kingdom
3 Sep 2007 6:26AM
nice, worth an RC
User_Removed 13 39 6 Scotland
4 Sep 2007 6:56PM
Such beauty from such a horrific past

dalischone 12 295 Scotland
4 Sep 2007 8:12PM
Many thanks Chris and Victor, much appreciated.

MickS 11 23 14 England
11 Dec 2007 8:45PM
Watcha Tracy,
excellent capture of a difficult subject, well, I always find mist to be difficultSmile

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