The Hours of Darkness

It is not often that the ferry arrives or departs Tiree during the hours of darkness. It is not unknown for the ‘MV Clansman’ to arrive after the sun has set, but it is much more unusual to witness the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ arrive in Gott Bay in the last vestages of daylight and depart in the darkness.

The MV Lord of the Isles enters Gott Bay

With the ‘MV Isle of Arran’ out of action the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ is operating to an amended timetable. Instead of arriving in Tiree at 11:00am she arrived at 5:30pm. There was just enough light to catch sight of her out in the Passage of Tiree and watch her swing to starboard in order to enter Gott Bay.

‘LOTI” in Gott Bay

In the presesent circumstances. when only escential travel is permitted. traffic is light. With tomorrow’s sailing cancelled there was perhaps slightly more traffic than might have been expected.

‘LOTI’ approaching the pier

There was a definite nip to the air as we watched the ferry’s arrival. The wind was from the South East and the temperature was 3 degrees C, but it certainly felt like -2 degrees.

LOTI’ prepares to berth with her stern to the link-span

For much of last year we felt it unwise to visit the pier, but with everything much quieter and with fewer people around we consider it safer. Obviously we observe propoer social distancing measures. The latter is not difficult with so few travelling on the ferry.

‘LOTI’ alongside and preparing to draw back to the link-span

The bow ropes were thrown first and then with the stern to the link-span the stern ropes were secured. The ramp was lowered and the traffic rolled off. It certainly did not take long.

The bow and midship ropes secured

The ferry brings a touch of colour even in grey days, but there is something special about the ferry alongside the pier during the hours of darkness. Even ‘LOTI” is like a floating palace of light.

A floating palace of light

With the traffic light it was not long before all the vehicles were safely on board. HGVs and Tankers need to be lashed to the card deck during the passage. This was something we had to remember when we moved to Tiree over seven years ago.

A tanker being lashed to the car deck

With the stern ramp raised and the vessel was secured in readiness for heading out to sea. There was no hanging around this evening and in no time at all the ferry was heading out of the bay on her way to Oban.

The pier staff getting ready to release the ropes

Thankfully we don’t live far from the pier and so as soon as the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ made her exit – bound for Oban – we headed home for a warming cup of coffee.

It is dark!

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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Island Seascape

The sailing from Oban to Coll and Tiree is through some of the most spectacular Highland and Island seascapes. After departing Oban Bay the ferry crosses the firth of Lorne, past Lismore Lighthouse and into the Sound of Mull. On a day such as today mountain peaks are covered by sunlit snow. Click on the […]

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A Crisp Monday

We have been living on Tiree now for over seven years and it feels that this is one of the most prolonged spells of icy weather. We have it on good authority that the island’s roads in many places were like a skating rink this morning. Tiree’s position out in the Atlantic and the fact that it is low lying means that in the winter the weather is generally much milder than on the Mainland. The other side of the coin is that we are more conscious of the wind.

Meals on Wheels

Todasy as we set out for our morning constitutional we had to be extra careful because of the icy conditions. We did not want slip on the ice and fall and have to visit a hospital in Oban or Glasgow, Hospitals are under enough pressure without us adding to it!

The gulls had an eye on a ready meal

As usual we made our way down to the pier and then back up the road and across the Machair to the old harbour. As we stepped onto the Machair we saw a crofter out feeding the sheep – and the gulls with an eye towards a ready meal.

Looking towards the Isle of Mull

Over the past few days, even when the sky has been blue over Tiree, Ben More on the Isle of Mull has been hidden from view, shrouded by menacing clouds. This mornng the clouds parted suficently to give us a hazy, wintry view of the Munro. Oh! These clouds add something to the view.

The Peak Peeking Through

From our south facing windows we loook out across the Passage of Tiree towards the Paps of Jura. At first light today we had a clear view of the Paps but soon the clouds built up and obscured our view. We don’t have to walk far from our home to look out across the Passage towards Ben More. As we walked across the Machair we caught a glimpse of the peak peeking through the clouds which wrapped around the Munro like a scarf.

The Memorial – A Great Vantage Point

Later after a warming cup of coffee it was time to head across to the Memorial situated off Pier Road. The ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ (LOTI) was just heading out to sea bound for the Isle of Coll and then onto the Ferry terminal at Oban. The Memorial and its surrounds afford a great view across the island and out to sea.

A view of the Lighthouse from the Memorial

Although later in the afternoon the clouds began to build up over Tiree, earlier in the day there was blue sky over the island. The clouds that hid the Paps of Jura and the Rum Cuillins had a fascination all of their own. Only the other day someone remarked to us how dramtic the clouds were – and with all manner of formations.

Thr MV Lord of the Isles

On Saturday we said farewell to the ‘MV Clansman’. It will be several weeks before her return to service. On Sunday she made her way to Liverpool for her annual overhaul and certification. On Sunday we welcomed the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ as the relief vessel. Recently she paid a visit to Tiree when the ‘MV Clansman’ had to undergo a deep clean.

A Wintry Setting

In the past 10 months we have rarely ventured far from Scarinish, the crofting township where we live, but each day there appears a freshness to the land and seascape. We may see the same view but often with a different perspective, We are so grateful that we felt the call of God to live on Tiree – and its a great community to belong to.

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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A Good Dusting

Well! The weather forecast was correct for Tiree. For the most part of the week the forecast was for wintry showers turning to snow on Saturday.  Snow is not unknown on Tiree, but it is an unusual occurrence, therefore it is something noteworthy.

It’s snowing!

The island in many ways gets the best of both worlds. From a snow free Tiree we can look out on snow capped neighbouring islands and distant mainland mountain peaks. 

It may be just a dusting to you – but for us it’s a covering

Last evening around 23:30 hours we happened to look out the window and to our pleasant surprise the roof of the car had a covering of snow. It was too dark to see any distance but the road around Pier View was covered in snow.

Wow. It’s still here!

Waking up we wondered if the snow would still be around and we were not disappointed. In fact it appeared to be slightly more than a dusting. Not enough to bury the grass but certainly enough to turn it white.

Looking out to sea from home

Much as we would like to have gone out other responsibilities meant that we had to stay indoors.  Not even the thought of photographing the ‘MV Clansman’ in such a setting could draw us out.  This was all the more difficult as this was the last sailing she would make to Tiree until later in February. Tomorrow witnesses the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’ (LOTI) take over the route in the absence of the ‘Clansman’.

A sharp shock of a snow shower

Before getting down to work, the opportunity was taken to photograph the view from our home,  For the time being that had to do.

What a contrast a few hours later as we set out to walk

Around 12:30 we managed to put work aside and get out for a walk, It was just our normal walk, down Pier Road to the pier and then back up and across the Machair to the old harbour. By this time Pier Road was more or less clear of snow. It was mainly the verges that had a covering.  From the pier we looked across Gott Bay and Ruaig to the snow capped Rum Cuillins. How sharp and impressed they looked. Across the Passage of Tiree Ben More on the Isle of Mull was shrouded in dark clouds.

Frozen Food

Looking across Gott Bay towards Gott and Kirkapol, we could see the sand covered in snow – right down to the water’s edge. 

Snow down to the water’s edge
Looking across to the Rum Cuillin
What a backdrop to Ruaig

The sky itself was dramatic. There was bright blue sky, jet black sky, shades of grey and shafts of sunlight. Tiree’s wide skies had it all.

Down by the harbour

It was great to be out. We didn’t meet many but the few we did see were appreciating the wonder of a snowy island landscape.

Scarinish Farm and Post Offive

Now come walk with us around the old harbour – Enjoy the views!

Around Scarinish Harbour
A Wintry Scene
Tiree Sea Tours’ New Dawn 2
A Slippery Slope
Ben More hidden from view but snow down to sea level
A snowy landscape

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A Wintry Skyline
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Welcome LOTI

Today the Isle of Tiree welcomed the arrival of ‘LOTI’, otherwise known as the ‘MV Lord of the Isles’. For operational reasons Tuesday’s sailing had been cancelled and there is no timetabled sailing on a Wednesday. So the arrival of the vessel was most welcome and especially as the Skipper was a ‘Tiree Man’.

The MV Lord of the Isles in Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree

Few people appear to refer to the ferry by her full title, most calling her ‘LOTI’. She was not due to visit Tiree until the 24th of January when she replaces the ‘MV Clansman’ while the latter goes for her annual overhaul and inspection or to replace another vessel due the same treatment. The official explanation for the present visit is ‘operational reasons.’ Since Monday evening the ‘MV Clansman’ has not left her berth at Oban Ferry Terminal other than to allow the ‘MV Isle of Lewis’ to use the berth.

LOTI prepares to come alongside the pier.

When a ferry breaks down the status refers to the cancellation or delay as due to ‘technical reasons’. When the cancellation is down to the weather or sea conditions the reason is clear. However in this instance the reason given was ‘operational reasons’ – make of that what you may.

LOTI coming alonhside the pier

Tiree, like many of the Hebridean Islands, is under the Scottish ‘Level Three’ resitrictions. The Mainland and the Isle of Skye are under Scottish ‘Level Four Plus’ restrictions. This week the Island of Barra has reported a few cases of the virus and the Island of Coll, Tiree’s near neighbour, has reported at least one case of the virus. It would be so easy for the virus to arrive on Tiree and perhaps more than at any other time during the pandemic there is a need for vigilance and observation of the Goverment guidance intended to stop the spread of the virus. It is an ever present danger.

The vessel alongside – the stern ropes are secured before the ramp is lowered

In the winter months the ferry traffic is light and this is especially so in the present circumstances. However, with no sailing on Tuesday inbound traffic to Tiree was up, but nothing compared to normal. Any additinal traffic was mainly freight.

Local drivers board the ferry to collect lorries etc

As the day has gone on the weather has improved and LOTI sailed in to Gott Bay with her bow facing blue skies. By the time she departed for Coll and Oban she took the blue skies with her. What a contrast today has been compared to yesterday. Most unusually we never ventured outside yesterday.

The stern ramp raised in preparation for sailing

With the vessel movements complete and foot passengers transferred the stern ramp was raised in preparation for sailing. Although the ferry would visit Coll on its way to Oban to take Coll traffic on board, all the traffic, vehicle and foot passengers, boarding at Tiree was bound for Oban.

Waiting to cast the stern ropes

It would be a pleasant sail to Oban with a flat sea and hardly a breath of wind. It was low tide and with LOTI’s low stern care has to be taken with the stern ropes. Tiree remains snow free but those arriving in Oban today would get quite a shock if they were travelling any distance. Much of the Mainland is under a blanket of snow.

Clear evidence of low tide

By the time LOTI arrives at Oban Ferry Terminal it will be more or less dark. Today’s sailing was 45 minutes later than normal – for operational reasons. ‘LOTI’ her skipper and crew were a welcome sight today. Perhaps the ‘Mighty One’ will be back on duty on Saturday, even if it is only for a few days. Those who serve on the ferries and who work on and at the pier are indeed on the frontline.

A watchful eye from the wings of the bridge

Thank You!

LOTI’s Departure

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LOTI heads out to sea
Haste Ye Back

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True to Forecast

After three glorious days, true to forecast, a change is on the way.  Over the past three days the air has been so clear and the views simply breathtaking. This morning most unusually the cold air has persisted.  The temperature is nothing like as cold as on the Mainland where temperatures got down down to -7.6 °C. Here on the island the official temperature went as low as 0° and continued in that region for several hours. 

From our south facing window the approaching sunrise

Who could stay indoors when the sun was rising and about to rise in such spectacular fashion? As soon as breakfast was over it was out for a walk. First of all just across the road to the memorial. The timing could not have been better as the sun was just on the horizon.

The sun’s rays reaching across the Passage of Tiree and the frozen lochan

After three days of frost, walking across tracks the ‘earth felt as hard as iron’. Lochans that I have never seen frozen before were frozen over. I could hardly believe that on the sand by the water’s edge I almost slipped over. On the sand it can be difficult to see the ice! 

A frozen lochan close to the sea and in the distance the Paps of Jura.

How great it is to be able to get out of doors and breathe the clean air and enjoy the simple pleasure of the stunning scenery that is right on our doorstep. 

A change is in the air as the clouds work their way in.

The work on the old pier was completed in time for Christmas. How different the pier and the area that surrounds it is without the contractors and all their equipment.. How bare the pier looks – there isn’t even a waiting room on the pier now! With the pier sitting out in the bay a waiting room is a must for such an exposed location.

It is a long walk and wait on a wet and windy day

The pier looked particularly attractive as the sun’s rays highighted the piles which support the concrete superstructure. The waters of the bay were like a large mirror – there was hardly a ripple.

Spot the seal.

Seals can be seen all around the island. In the summer months a highlight is when we catch sight of Sammy and Sally, (well that is what we call them) in the waters by the pier. We are grateful to the Pier Master for drawing our attention to what would appear to be a young seal that has taken up residence on rocks close to the Pier. He is present in the morning and slips off in the late afternoon for a spot of fishing.

This seal has been seen on the rocks in recent days

We could not resist taking photograph after photograph of this latest attraction to the pier and its surroundings. At times this seal seemed to blend in with the black rocks and at other times he semeed much lighter in colour as the sun highlighted him – or was it her?

Ben More on the Isle of Mull

The change in the air could be seen in the build up of cloud over the Isle of Mull. The clouds certainly appeared to be releasing some of their load over parts of that island and in a most colourful way from our perspective.

Across the sea rain is falling

Gott bay was far from a wild place this morning. It was calm and colourful – a perfect setting for the Lodge Hotel. Without the telephoto lens something of the expanse of the bay is more apparent.

The Lodge Hotel by Gott Bay

Glebe House in its time has been as its name might suggest a manse, but is has also been a high class Guest House. Close by is the present manse – a kit house. Glebe House and the present manse are often the first and last views that those arriving and departing by ferry see.

Perhaps one of the most photographed houses on the island

This morning the air was so still and the sea was so calm. There was certainly no noise pollution. Just before 10:00am the distinct sound of the ‘Twin Otter’ approaching the island could be heard. Shortly afterwards the change on the engine tone could be heard as it made its final approach to the airport. Later we saw the same plane cross overhead as it flew back to Glasgow.

Behind Ben Gott the ‘Twin Otter’ makes its final approach

Perhaps it is the fact that we have not been venturing far, but there is a growing realisation that within walking distance of our home there is so much to enjoy and appreciate.  Oh! There are still can be dark grey skies and wet, windy days,  How much more then we appreciate the sunny days and the rich colours that come with the brightness.

The Rum Cuillin beyong the Isle of Coll

Around 9:00am it was crisp, clear and calm. Nevertheless it felt and looked as if change was in the air. By the time we returned home about 10:30am clouds were building up over Tiree and by 4:00pm it was a return to grey skies and no visible sunset.

Looking across Gott Bay to Ben Hynish

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

PHOTO Postcript

thought you WOULD like to see another photograph of me!

Not wet sand but slippy icy sand.

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The Wow Factor

What an amzing and colourful start to January 2021! For the third day in a row we had crisp clear views of the neighbouring islands and distant Mainland mountain peaks. The Isle of Tiree rarely gets frost but we certainly had a hard frost today and where the sun did not reach the frost lay all day.

The view from the breakfast table to the right are the Paps of Jura

From sunrise to sunset the views have been stunning. Between sunrise and sunset we have had clear blue skies. Out of necessity I had to cross the island and found the journey breathtaking. For practical reasons I had not taken the camera. I do not think I have enjoyed such spectacilar winter views. You could see over Rum to the Cuillins on Skye. The Nevis Range which includes Ben Nevis could be seen in the distance. Beyond Ben More on Mull could be seen several Mainland Mountain Peaks.

The Paps of Jura at Sunrise

As the sun ws setting I made my way down to the pier. I find that I never tire of the view or the exercise. Life on Tiree certainly has its rewards.

From the Pier the view is across to Ben Hynish

Thankfully here on Tiree we have not the full lockdown imposed on the Mainland. Nevertheless we have still to be vigilant and follow the rules. It would be so easy for the virus to reach the island and then spread among the residents

Looking across Gott Bay to Ruaig to the Rum Cuillin
A plane’s vapour trail on the Western sky
The Pink Halo that surrounds the island and lights up distant peaks
The Paps of Jura from the Pier
Ben More on Mull

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A January SUN-Day

Wherever our home has been, Sunday has always been a special day for us as we gathered with the church family to worship God. It is no different here on Tiree, but at present our ‘Sunday Gathering’ has had out of necessity to move online. All of us have agreed that we have missed being together in the one place, nevertheless our online services have had several advantages.  

Sunrise over the Scarinish Headland

The online gathering, especially the live edition, has enabled some people to be part of the gathering, who in more normal circumstances are prevented from being present. The online gathering has also seen the involvement of so many different people with a whole variety of gifts and skills. Later in the day a recording is posted online to further make the gathering accessible. 

Sunrise over the Passage of Tiree – Spot the cargo vessel

A first glance out of the window at first light was indicative of what a glorious day weather wise it was going to be. So after breakfast just as the sun was rising, the opportunity was taken to walk around Scarinish. First of all down by the pier and then later across to the harbour and up to the lighthouse.

Gott Bay, Ruaig and the Rum Cuillin for a backdrop

There was a nip in the air, but it was bright and sunny. With only the merest hint of a breeze, the nip in the air remained that – a nip.  The risen sun caressed both land and sea with its golden touch.

Ben More on the Isle of Mull

How I appreciate the view across the Passage of Tiree to the Treshnish Isles and Ben More on the Isle of Mull.   While Tiree remains snow free it is a pleasure to look across to the snow capped peak of Ben More. It is interesting to observe the snow line.  Some of the snow capped peaks seem lower than Ben More but many have to be higher – it is simply the distance that they are away that makes them appear lower.

Panoramic View of the Rum Cuillin

The Rum Cullin which although distant – beyond the neighbouring Isle of Coll – is snow capped. Beyond the Rum Cullin the snow capped Cullins on the Isle of Skye were clearly visible.

Enjoying the sun’s rays

Asked if I had met anyone on my walk I had to report only the Pier Master, the only other contacts were some members of the resident sheep population in Scarinish.

Scarinish Post Office at the top of the brae

Back home it was time to set up ‘ZOOM’ for the Sunday Gathering. It was a real joy to welcome visitors to Tiree ( via the Sunday Gathering) from Mainland Scotland and England. Unlike in ‘the old days’ at the conclusion of the worship, you cannot serve tea or coffee and  some of the home baking that Tiree is famous for. However, for those who want to, there is the opportunity to meet up in smaller groups for a good chat.

Low Tide at Scarinish Harbour

Daylight hours are few in number, so after lunch, around 3:00pm we headed back out into the sunshine for a walk around the township.  As the sun got lower and lower in the sky not only did we have long shadows, the golden rays worked their magic touch.

A Burning Bush

For the the third of January this really was a ’SUN’-Day. We appreciated the weather, but we also valued the time spent with the church family as we came together to worship the living God.  How uplifting it was to sing (and no one could hear us) the words written by Rend Collective to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. Below is a link to the first Sunday Gathering of the New Year. if you care to listen click on the video link.

We look forward to at some point in 2021 getting out and about around the island and not just when we are delivering meals on wheels. It looks like the settled weather will continue for a few more days.

Sunset from Scarinish Farm

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