Trains, Trees And Townships

[Mouse over the photographs for titles and as usual if you click on one of the photos you will get a slideshow of larger photographs.]

7.50 and it is if a letterbox is opened, giving a hint of sunrise and what a glorious sunrise it is. 8.28 and it is officially sunrise here on the Isle of Tiree, 45 minutes later than the South West of England. What a clear view of the Paps of Jura, and that clarity continues throughout the day. It is great to be back on what one Tiristeach* (pronounced ‘Cheer-us-chugh’) calls “our beloved island”.

We have just returned from a five day visit to the Central Belt of Scotland, staying with family in Reddingmuirhead near Falkirk. Alan grew up in the adjoining village of Brightons and the “Braes Villages” afford a panoramic view of the Firth of Forth and the Ochil Hills beyond. On this occasion the hills were snow clad, testimony to the freezing conditions on the Mainland. Apart from spending time with family, our trip enabled us to purchase several items that we could not buy on the island and to do some Christmas shopping. We also took the opportunity to meet up with other family members in Edinburgh. The capital still had the remnant of Autumn colour as it prepared for its Christmas and New Year Celebrations. There is a saying, “What the eye does not see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.”

Do we miss trains, trees or towns? On Tiree there are no trains, although there is a an old track rusting away in Scarinish harbour, no doubt at one time used to launch a boat. On Tiree, trees do not flourish, apart from the Ake-ake, a native of New Zealand. This wind tolerant species has become established in several gardens over the past 50 years. And there are no towns in the mainland sense. The “two major settlements” are Scarinish and Crossapol and there are about thirty crofting townships. When visiting a department store in Edinburgh I found myself wondering if there were more people in the building than live on Tiree with its population of under 700.

Yes! We enjoyed travelling by train. Yes! We enjoyed walking in Princes Street Gardens admiring the Autumn Colours. Yes! It was good to be in the town. But, on a calm day like this, with such spectacular views of the Hebrides it is great to be home.

It was as if we had a weather window for our trip. On the Monday we had a calm crossing to Oban and our return flight from Glasgow to Tiree was made extra special with clear views of the lochs and glens and Hebridean Isles. We even made out the island of Iona and its Abbey. In our absence, Tiree experienced storm conditions on the Wednesday, and it will not be the last this winter.  It’s great to be home.

[Mouse over the photographs for titles and as usual if you click on one of the photos you will get a slideshow of larger photographs.]

* Tiristeach – Someone from Tiree