There are perhaps quicker ways of making the journey, but our choice was perhaps the most convenient for us – Caledonian Sleeper from London Euston to Glasgow Central then onward by City Link coach to Oban, where the journey really begins.
Oban is the main gateway to the Isles, to both the Inner and Outer Hebrides. The port is a hive of activity with ferries arriving and departing, with fishing boats berthed alongside the pier, and numerous other craft, large and small, all bringing life to the bay. Sometimes there is even a cruise ship discharging passengers by tender. All in all, Oban has all the atmosphere of a West Coast ferry port.
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Under the blue sky it was pleasantly warm, although nothing like the high temperatures we had experienced down South. The sea was calm. There was hardly a breeze. Ideal conditions for our afternoon sail.
For the Tuesday afternoon crossing the designated vessel is the MV Clansman. She (it always seems strange to refer to the Clansman as ‘she’) was late in arriving from Barra, which meant our departure was delayed by about 20 minutes. On board we saw some, by now, familiar faces. From all over the country we were returning home to Tiree.
Putting out to sea, we head up the Sound of Mull, passing Lismore Lighthouse, Duart Castle, Lochaline and Tobermory, before turning west at Rubha nan Gall Lighthouse and heading out into the Atlantic. After Ardmore Point and almost in line with Ardnamurchan Lighthouse we turn into the Passage of Tiree as we head first for Coll and then Tiree.
Today’s crossing has the feeling that we are sailing into and through the Hebrides. We sail round the east, north and West coast of Mull with the Mainland on the starboard side. Leaving the Sound of Mull, we can see several of the Small Isles, with amazing views of many of the Inner Hebrides including the Paps of Jura and even glimpses of some of the Western Isles.
We are now in home waters – the waters that surround the Isle of Tiree
‘Beyond the lovely Isle of Coll
Lies Tiree the most beautiful of all.’