It’s 9:30am and I am walking across the Machair when the phone pings to announce a message from ‘Son Number One’. “Eight years ago today Mum, Dad and I were in Oban. Tomorrow they will have been living for eight years on Tiree. Time flies!” Almost immediately the phone pings again. This time it is Son Number Two, “Gosh. Eight years!!” Yes! That’s correct. It is eight years since we came to live on Tiree.
On a Thursday back in 2013 the ferry sailed to Coll and Tiree and then on to Barra before returning six hours later to Tiree for the return crossing to Coll and Oban. This meant that it was possible for the removal van to make a day visit to the island without incurring an overnight stay on the island.
It was a beautiful morning for the crossing. The sky was like a picture postcard with a narrow belt of low cloud in the Firth of Lorne. Gradually Oban Bay began to take on an almost surreal appearance when mist crept in as the MV Clansman came alongside Berth Two of the Ferry Terminal. Our adventure was well and truly underway.
We had only spent a day on Tiree in August 2011 and a week in August 2012 before coming to the decision that it was part of God’s plan for our lives to move to the island. Prior to the actual move several unexpected events confirmed this sense of calling. Since our arrival so many waves have washed the island’s shore.
From our arrival we have enjoyed walking daily. Well almost daily! Although our island home is only about 11 miles long and five miles wide at its widest point and less than a mile wide at its narrowest there are so many beaches to explore. Before our son Andrew, who had come along to help with the removal, left for his home in Buckinghmanshire, we managed to take in a walk to ‘Happy Valley’ at the west end of the island.
It is true! The past eight years have flown by. How we appreciate living on the most westerly island in the Inner Hebrides. It is not just the land and seascape. We value living as part of a small community. In the winter the population shrinks to about 720, although when we first arrived the populations was only 650. Our family live almost 500 miles away, but we appreciate belonging to the church family known as Tiree Baptist Church, as well as to the wider Christian Community.
Apart from the past two years, the years and months have been marked out by annual events that give a sense of rhythm. In addition to those annual markers all manner of things have taken place. Life, even in the winter months, is never dull. Tiree has a reputation of being one of the sunniest places in the UK, but it can also be one of the windiest. There are occasions when visibility is too poor for the plane to land or sea conditions too wild for the ferry to berth.
Over the eight years we have amassed hundreds if not thousands of photographs capturing what for us is ‘Life on Tiree’. For summer visitors Tiree is a holiday destination but for residents it is their home and workplace. Tiree is one of the best examples today of a crofting community. Some islanders are dependent on fishing, while others find employment in the school, eventide home, shops and other escential services. What follows are just a few photographs captured over the years.
As featured on BBC’s Weather Programme our photograph of when hail impersonated snow.
Snow is a rare occurrence on the island and when it does snow it does not lie for long.
The much anticipated Tiree 10K and Half-Marathon normally held in May (on this occasion just a few days after the snow!) In September the Ulra-Marathon is held and covers about 35 miles of the island.
Traditional music is very much part of the community and below two pipers send off visitors who came from around the world to the “Home Coming’
We never tire of watching the sunsets
In the past the ferry called in at Tobermory when sailing to Coll and Tiree. This is no longer possible other than on the Waverley.
The above picture has a historical significance. The MV Isle of Lewis had been delayed due to a funeral on Barra for a victim of the Manchester Arena bombing. It is just after sunset when the three vessels were together in the bay – with the PS Waverley alongside the North Pier.
Since this dramatic event which involved damage to the starboard aft section of the vessel the MV Hebridean Isles has not returned to Tiree.
One of our pleasure is welcoming friends and family to our home. Another joy was meeting visitors from Canada whose ancestral roots are in Tiree.
Courtesy of Tiree Sea Tours it was a dream come true to visit the Skerryvore Lighthouse which lies about thirteen miles from Tiree. It is an amazing experience even on the calmest of days.
Tiree Baptist Church has its Sunday Gathering in An Talla, the island’s community centre, as its premises are on the small side.
A highlight of 2019 was the baptismal service in the sea at Baugh.
Who knew what storms lay ahead for the world at the start of 2020. Winter storms played out, but worse was to come when the world faced a global pandemic. Wind and waves are dangerous but something invisible was about to strike. The Tiree Baptist Church premises was set up as a hospital ward but thankfully it was not needed. Later in 2021 it played a part in the vaccination programme on the island.
Just before Tiree along with the whole of the UK went into lockdown the 20 year old linkspan at the pier was renewed. It arrived from the Clyde on-board an enormous floating crane. The old linkspan was removed and the new one swung into place.During the work the MV Clansman carried only foot passengers and goods were brought by a small coastal vessel and lifted onto the pier by a mobile crane.
For several months we hardly ever ventured out of the crofting township of Scarinish. On one special occasion when there was a ‘Tractor Run’ in aid of the Surgery Fund we made an exception.
In August our son Andrew was able to visit and we managed to get out and about and enjoyed seeing other areas of the island.
On one of walks we met this beautiful sheepdog in the company of its master.
Along with many churches Tiree Baptist held its Sunday Gathering online on the Zoom platform and this had to continue through to the end of May.
When we first came to Tiree, the summer timetable for the ferry was fulfilled by the MV Clansman and the Lord of the Isles with a smaller vessel acting as relief vessel in the winter. Later the MV Clansman became the primary vessel with relief provided mainly by the MV Lord of the Isles. Occasionally other vessels such as the MV Hebrides and the MV Isle of Mull have visited the island.
There are no native rabbits of the island but there are plenty of hares.
There however is one rabbit that lives in our garden. He followed us all the way from Oxfordshire and Somerset.
What a view for your daily walk – blue sea, sky and the mountains of Mull.
In previous years the Tiree Ranger of the time along with Dr John Bowler and Dr John Holliday ran an event called ‘Tiree the Secret Island. The secret is out for this month’s Scots Magazine ran an article on Tiree and Coll and last weekend three different newspapers featured Tiree.
This is Life on Tiree
Celebrating Our Eighth Anniversary
Trusting the Lord our God for what lies ahead.