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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What a colourful start to the penultimate day of 2020. Still preferring to shop early, but not too early, we left home around 8:30 to head for the CO-OP. Unusually for Tiree the car windscreen was frozen and the roads were covered in frost. Any puddles, and there are plenty, were frozen.
The sun had not yet risen. Looking out across the Passage of Tiree the sky was already taking on the hues of sunrise. While Mrs ‘Life on Tiree’ went into shop I headed on foot to the Post Office to post some thank you cards. I found myself stopping several times just to appreciate the view.
Leaving the CO-OP car park we happened to glance skyward and there was the full ‘Cold Moon’ not yet set. Somehow it felt most appropriate – especially the name given to this particular full moon.
Arriving home we picked up a card that required a stamp to be purchsedand we headed back to the Post Office. This time I was armed with the camera and not simply with my mobile phone. Before jumping into the car I managed to photograph the moon before it disappeared behind some clouds.
On Pier Road we made a brief photostop to capture the by now risen sun. The view was from Millport across the Passage of Tiree. (The very view that we have from our living room window.) How I appreciate when I can see the Paps of Jura and this was the case this morning. (They can be observed on the right of the photograaph.)
While ‘Mrs Life on Tiree’ conducted her business in the Post Office, including a chat, I went to turn the car down by the harbour. The real reason was to look out across the harbour towards the Paps of Jura.
Looking East rather than South, the view is of Ben More on the Isle of Mull. The view this morning was trnaformed by the colours of the sunrise. It was so attractive.
This past month has been characterised by dark grey skies and rain. How uplifting it was to see some brightness. Thankfully, although there have been clouds, the brightness has continued throughout the day. It has been cold, but not as cold as the Mainland and there has been no strong wind to drive the coldness in and through you.
As the sky became lighter and lighter it became clear that Ben More was snow capped. Through the blanket of cloud other snow capped peaks on Mull and the Mainland were visible. Once again a snow free Tiree looked out on the beauty of snow capped peaks on Mull and the Mainland.
Once the shopping was unloaded and put away, a cup of coffee was enjoyed, before setting out for our morning walk. Our walk took us down to the pier. (Not to see the ferry – for there is no sailing on a Wednesday in winter.) Although cloud covered the tops of the Rum Cullins, the view across Gott Bay past Ruaig, was of a snowy Isle of Rum. Below are some wintry shots of Scarinish taken on our walk. Note the watery landscape – much of it frozen.
In the afternoon we took the opportunity to have a walk along the beach at Vaul. The wind had risen slightly and as a consequence the cold was more penetrating. However, it was still a real pleasure to be out and about.
At the far end of Vaul beach, we looked out over Salum beach and beyond. Through a break in the cloud cover to the North we could make out the distinctive shape of Eigg
Several brave individuals were playing golf on Vaul Golf Course and some nearby cows seemed undisturbed by the goings on.
Close to the Lodge Hotel at Kirkapol two separate flocks of birds came together to form one enormous flock. Earlier in the day, just after sunrise when seeking to capture the Paps of Jura through an open window, a large flock of birds were making their way along the coastline.
Several people have observed and commented on the fact that I have not posted so many photographs in 2020. They are quite right. The fact is that we have not been out and about as much as in previous years. Although there is a freedom to walk we have sought as much as possible to remain mainly local to Scarinish.
Like so many we have been unable to meet up with our family. It is almost 12 months since we all last met together. We have been grateful to share with them through the means of modern technology – that way we have been able to share with each other. It has been a similar story for our church family.
All that remains is to say, “Happy New Year!” And “Lang may your lum reek.” May you know joy and peace through faith in Jesus who is the Babe of Bethlehem, the Man of Calvary, the very Lord of Glory.
Life on Tiree occasionally demands visiting the Mainland. Although we have an excellent Medical Practice there is no hospital or out-patient department. Thus, the first of December saw us visiting Oban for an out-patient appointment. Since the covid restrictions came into place the dentist has not been to the island and so we we were grateful to be given an emergency appointment with the dentist in Oban.
Our appointments were on a Thursday and with no ferry on a Wednesday in the Winter we had to leave Tiree on the Tuesday. On the day of our appointment we woke up to falling snow. At sea level the snow did not lie but the higher you went in the town the more it lay. Both doctor and dentist apologised for running late due to the problems getting into work. With no ferry on a Friday to Tiree our visit to Oban was like a mini-break. We were not complaining as our extended stay enabled us to do some mainland shopping and to fit in a much needed visit to the hairdresser.
In our absence Tiree experienced wild weather on the Friday with winds gusting around the 60mph mark. Thankfully by Saturday the wind had dropped and we had a smooth crossing. With the ferry departing at 7:15am, it was an early rise for us. It felt even earlier due to the fact that we left under the cover of darkness. Sunrise was considerably later when we were well up the Sound of Mull. When we passed Ardamurchan lighthouse the light was clearly visible..
At this time of the year the ferry can almost feel like an extension of island life. Not only are the crew so friendly, you are travelling mainly with other island residents. We were impressed by the service, especially taking into account the various precautions to help make the ferry a covid safe environment.
Since our arrival home the weather has been settled. Saturday was pleasant. Sunday was a delight with a colourful sunrise, blue skies, and an attractive sunset. And Monday began with striking a sunrise. It is crisp and calm.
A walk at sundown on Sunday was so uplifting as we took advantage of the settled weather. Blue skies gave way to reds, oranges and blues. There is no doubt! Much as it is good to go away it is even better to return home. Yes! Home is best.
Today, Monday we left our home when it was still dark in order to do the weekly shop. We were slightly later the normal arriving at the CO-OP at 8:00am. While Mrs ‘Life on-Tiree’ did the shopping I went to post a letter and walked back to the shop via the harbour at Scarinish.
It was one of these mornings you could not stop yourself wanting to admire the rising sun. Enjoy!
It was only when we returned home that the sun rose above the horizon around 8:45am.
Yes! SeánBatty hit the mark. On Friday evening following the late evening Scottish news Seán forecast that Tiree would be the warmest place in Scotland. What a stark contrast with the storms of last weekend. Today, the sun shone from dawn to dusk and the sea was calm.
We have recently fitted new curtains. They are very effective thermal blackout curtains. The only problem is they shut out the light. There is no advance warning of sunrise. So it was a dash out into the garden to admire the sunrise.
It is Saturday the 7th of November and in normal circumstances at 3:00pm there would have been an Act of Remembrance at the Memorial situated just off Pier Road. But this is not a normal year and yet another community landmark has been missed.
In many ways I want the photographs to testify themselves to the amazing November day that we have enjoyed on the Isle of Tiree. The sun was just coming up and yet I had no coat or jacket on when I went to the memorial just after sunrise. Well done Seán Batty!
Later in the morning, probably just before 9:00am, we had a walk around Scarinish taking in the pier and the old Harbour. The winter sun is low in the sky and our shadows were long and the reflections were so bright.
With such a beautiful day I went down to the pier at 11:00am to watch the ‘MV Clansman’ berth. Having watched the traffic roll off I then made my way back up to a vantage point above the old harbour.
This year we have hardly ventured beyond Scarinish, but this afternoon we decided to head out west. Our first stop was at West Hynish where we looked out to Skerryvore Lighthouse, about 12 miles off shore.
The next stop was at Balephuil to watch the Atlantic roll in relentlessly. It appeared to be sending up a mist.
The next stop was to admire the view across Balemartine and the Passage of Tiree towards Ben More on the Isle of Mull.
This past week flocks of birds numbering in the thosands have been seen in the sky above Tiree.
At Island House we drove across the Moor Road towards Cornaig and onto Balephetrish. By this time the sun was begining to drop in the sky as sunset approached.
We then crossed back over the island to Crossapol and on to Baugh. The view in the rear view mirror was inspirational. Then it was home for a welome cup of coffee.
The weather forecast for tomorrow, Sunday, is not for a repeat performace. The clouds that were building up to the west were an indication that we could believe the weather forecasters – at least on this occasion.
Creaklin’ and a Rattlin’ – that about sums it up for this weekend. The rafters creakin’ and moanin’ as the slates on the roof go a rattlin’. Yes! It was Storm Aiden followed by the remains of ex-Hurricane Zeta on Sunday. Didn’t we know it.
Friday had been a ‘Ray of Sunshine’ in what otherwise had been a mainly grey week. On Friday evening the wind began to steadily rise. In the small hours of the night the wind was gusting to at least 66mph and the gusts officially topped out at 74mph at 3:00 in the afternoon. It was not just the gusts, the underlying speed was consistently strong.
Looking out of the window the car was rockin’ and rollin’ as it was buffeted by the wind. Any wheelie bins that were not secured took off, while some strained on their tethers. Would the cranes still be standing on the pier?
At one point in the morning there was a sudden squall. It was not just the intensity of the wind, it was the sheer volume of rain. Anyone driving in the squall would most likely have had to stop. Visibility was almost nil. The last time I remember such rain, was when we were living in Oxfordshire and the conditions led to accidents on the M4 and M40.
After lunch the wind started to ratchet up another notch or two. Just after one electric power went down, on Tiree, Coll and Mull. On the Isle of Mull a line had come down and someone had to climb a pole when the wind was at its worst. There may well have been secondary faults as on Tiree power returned at different times. Our supply returned about 6:30pm but for others it was two hours later.
A visit to the pier revealed a Gott Bay that was like a boiling, seething caldron. There was no sign of any waves breaking high in the air over the pier as is often the case. But don’t be under misapprehension, it was a wild scene with frequent intense showers that soaked you in seconds.
A later visit, about an hour before high tide, revealed a similar picture. The main difference that wind, which had swung round to a westerly direction, was leading to the waves almost over topping the pier. The waves were certainly breaking over it.
We were grateful that there was time in the evening to prepare for the ‘Sunday Gathering’ hosted by Tiree Baptist Church on the Zoom platform. We were even more thankful that we had power when the ‘Gathering’ went out live on Saturday morning. For those unable to Zoom in at that time, a recording is to be found on YouTube with a link from the church’s Facebook page.
It was another noisy night with Creakin’ and Rattlin’. The idea was to sleep, but any time we woke you were conscious just how rough it was outside. Happening to look out the window in the morning, we observed that we had suffered some storm damage. Although at present the house seems to have come though unscathed, our shed had lost several boards.
On Sunday afternoon we thought that we might have a change of scenery. We were thinking about walking but decided against it as the wind was gusting up to 59mph. Instead we went for a short drive in the car. We headed to Crossapol to watch the waves driving in relentlessly and powerfully onto Baugh beach.
From Crossapol we drove to Kenovay and Balephetrish. From the point just before the road drops down to the bay, we could see the spray and spindrift from waves reaching higher than the nearby houses.
There is often seaweed on the beach at the Kenovay end of the bay, but today it was piled high. Evidence, if it was needed, of the stormy conditions in recent days. Shipping may not like the skerries that lie off Tiree, but they afford some protection to the island.
Going back to Saturday evening. Between a gap in the scurrying clouds we could see the full moon. It was called a blue moon and not for the reason you might think. It is the fact that this was the second full moon in the month and not because the moon turned a shade of blue.
Sean Batty, the weather forecaster, stated, ‘The last time we had a full moon on Halloween was back in 2001 – which was also a blue moon – and we won’t see another one until 2039.’ From what he says, to witness a Full Moon on All Hallows evening is a rare occasion.
We don’t know if it was the fact that the Scottish Government told children to stay at home this Halloween or it was the fact that it was a wild evening, but we had no children call at the door. In guidance issued a week ahead of 31 October, people were told guising (going door-to-door in fancy dress) and parties were not encouraged. Instead, people were asked to have safe Halloween celebrations at home
Tomorrow the weather forecast is for calmer conditions. Although there is an alert out for possible disruption or cancellation to Monday’s sailing, the drivers of the remaining floats from Friday’s livestock sale will be hoping that the ferry safely berths. No doubt there will be others in a similar position.
The Creakin’ and Rattlin’ has quietened down a little. Nevertheless, there is something dramatic about such conditions, especially when you have the visibility, no matter how poor, to look out on a seething cauldron.