Ailsa Craig, Firth of Clyde, Scotland
The prominent profile of Ailsa Craig rises out of the Firth of Clyde welcoming the weary traveller back to the coast of Scotland. Sitting 10 miles off the Ayrshire coastline, the volcanic plug rises 330m out of the sea and is home only to large colonies of gannets and puffins. The island has been quarried since the mid-nineteenth century for rare forms of granite particular to the island, the characteristics of which make the ideal material for the production of curling stones. Kays of Scotland were granted the exclusive lease to the quarry the Ailsa Craig Common Green Granite, Ailsa Craig Blue Hone Granite and Ailsa Craig Red Hone Granite by the Marquess of Ailsa. The Ailsa Craig granite is the considered the premier material for the manufacturing of the curling stone and is one of only two forms of granite used for curling stones. The other, Blue Trefor granite, is sourced from north Wales. The master craftsmen form the body of the stone from the Ailsa Craig Common Green Granite which is more resistant to impact against the other stones during the game, with the Blue Hone inserted into the base as the running surface which is in contact with the ice due to its lower water absorption.
The photograph of the Ailsa Craig was taken from the deck of the Stenaline ferry on the return crossing from Cairnryan to Belfast.