Our oldest son has an affinity with Scotland and enjoys his regular visits to Tiree. Of our four children he alone was born in Scotland while we were living and working in Ayrshire. His love of Scotland and Tiree runs deeper than simply the fact of being born here.
It was through Andrew that we were introduced to the Isle of Tiree. In August 2011 the three of us walked the Rob Roy Way from Drymen to Pitlochry. The following week we were based at Bunree by the Corran Ferry about 10 miles from Fort Willian. It was at his suggestion that on the Thursday we make an early start in order to catch the 8:00am ferry to Tiree as it was possible to spend the afternoon on the island. Back then it was one of the excursions advertised by CalMac and it included lunch at the Scarinish Hotel and a tour of the island. The experience most certainly had unforeseen consequences.
The following year we had our sights on walking the West Highland Way but for a variety of reasons this was not possible. Instead, we enjoyed a week on Tiree and a week on Skye. One year later in 2013, again in August, we moved to the Isle of Tiree. Andrew helped with the removal.
In mid July this year daughter ‘number one’ came to visit us along with her husband. We travelled back with them to their home in Oxfordshire and spent just over two weeks there. During that time we celebrated our other daughter’s 40th as well as having a short break in the historic market town of Stratford Upon Avon. We then travelled north with Andrew to Tiree.
There was to be no relief from the heat we had experienced while staying in Oxfordshire. Although not quite as intense, our first week back on Tiree was almost unbelievable. Our second week back has for the most part been bright and more suitable for walking. It has been most enjoyable getting out together.
In addition to our daily walks around Scarinish, we enjoyed the walk from Gott to the Ringing Stone. Along with much of Scotland, the West Coast of Scotland has been unusually dry and the Isle of Tiree bears witness to this. The usual vibrant green landscape is tinged with brown. The plus side was the walk from Gott to the Ringing Stone was dry underfoot – in wet conditions the path can be flooded.
Although the path was dry and the lochans lower than normal, there was evidence all around us of just how much of Tiree is covered in water.
Our walk was ‘Coast to Coast’. Thankfully the walk is close to the narrowest point in the island – Tiree is shaped like a lamb chop!
A feature of the walk was the sheer number of wild flowers. The Machair may be well past its first bloom, but there is a wealth of beauty all over the island. Ou walks around the island have been a reminder of the second verse of the song by Moira Kerr about Tiree that states, ‘There are so many wild and pretty flowers, To try to name them all would take for hours’.
Having walked along Baugh Beach, I happened to notice on the edge of the dune on the Reef side, a patch of bluebells. The bluebells were eye catching, but they were not alone.
On a walk along Vaul beach we were struck (not stung) by the number of jelly fish. What interesting patterns were on display.
Most evenings we have been taking a walk to the pier around sunset. We have remarked how popular Tiree and Gott Bay in particular has become with those who enjoy yachting and cruising.
Seals are not unknown by the pier, and each year two visit around this particular time. We started calling them Sammy and Sally, occasionally they have brought along a friend. But you know the old saying ’tow is company, three is a crowd’. We were feeling rather disappointed that they had not made an appearance this year. However, what pleasure we had on Monday when we watched them swimming about. It was so calm once again, that we could hear their breathing.
No matter how strong our son’s ties to the island, the time is fast approaching for his departure. On Thursday he takes his leave as he boards the ‘MV Clansman’ for the sail to Oban. He is already thinking of his next possible visit – half-term perhaps?
Having mentioned the ferry, it is encouraging to hear that as from Monday the 9th of August, with the restrictions relating to social distancing relaxed, the ship’s capacity will be more or less back to normal. This will be of particular benefit to foot passengers, especially to those with urgent appointments on the mainland.
This is ‘Life on Tiree’.