The journey begins the moment you land on Tiree whether it be on the apron at Tiree Airport or on the pier at Scarinish. However there is a particular place on Tiree known as ‘The Journey’ or to give it its Gaelic name ‘An Turas‘. To quote Duncan MacMillan, “An Turas is in, and of, the landscape and the place … it is that which gives it its meaning. It is both a building and an art work, a landmark and a symbol.”
An Turas is about a five minute walk from our house, adjacent to some neglected cattle pens and just before the CalMac Office. Perhaps its proximity to those rusting relics and the fact that in inclement weather the walkway is exposed for the most part to the elements and is often flooded, we have not given it too much attention. Yet in 2003 the building won the prestigious “Scottish Building of the Year” award.
Tiree is characterised by wide expanses of sky, sandy beaches, outcrops of ancient rock, white walled houses, felt roofs and dramatic vistas. In an article in the Guardian, ‘An Turas, a dream that dared’, Ruaridh Nicoll, writes, ‘An Turas plays with these elements. It has the two white walls that match the houses. Its bridge is roofed in tar. The glass box breaks through a dry-stone dyke and opens on to the full sweep of Gott Bay. As I walked along its passageway, I realised that this was one of those pieces of art that works so well that it touches all the earlier experiences and accentuates them’.
Like so many works of art, some regard it with great affection, some dismiss it, while for others it is a mystery. One thing in its favour is that there is no admission charge – so it’s certainly worth giving it a visit.
It was John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress who reminds us that we are all on a journey – the journey of life. The important thing is know where you are going and how you are going to get there. The Writer of Proverbs states, Before every man there lies a wide and pleasant road that seems right but ends in death. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6).