Preston Island

While islands abound on Scotland’s west coast, they are few and far between on the eastern seaboard and the majority of those that do exist are to be found in the Firth of Forth. There is, however, one island here that is something of a misnomer.

Preston Island, near Culross, is an island in name only. It started life as an artificial atoll, the ground reclaimed from the waters of the inner estuary in the early 19th century to house a salt pan works. Since the 1970s, however, it has been engulfed by the Valleyfield Ash Lagoons, 200 hectares created from the spoil generated by the Longannet coal-fired power station.

The island was constructed by landowner Sir Robert Preston. Three small coal mines were sunk to fuel the saltpans but the venture declined after a fatal explosion in one of the shafts and the site was abandoned in the 1850s.

Protected by a high perimeter fence, the ruins are well preserved and information panels detail their history, including a brief period when whisky was illicitly distilled here.


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