Home To Tiree

The weather has not been the most conducive to venturing further afield on the island thus the lack of recent posts. With a dental appointment on the Mainland we were keeping a close watch on the weather forecast. The appointment was on the Friday so this meant sailing on the Thursday and returning on the […]

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‘Back On Track’

‘Back on track.’ It certainly did not appear that way on Tuesday morning. There was no change in the weather. The ferry was delayed by about 30 minutes apparently because of poor visibility. The morning flight from Glasgow was cancelled due to poor visibility and broadband on the island was still down unless you had […]

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The Crusher

It was Wednesday evening and on a Wednesday in the summer timetable the ferry arrives at 17:00 having sailed out to Barra and returned. Nothing unusual in that as it happens week after week. It was a beautiful sunny evening. {Let it be known that on Monday and Tuesday the Isle of Tiree was the […]

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Penultimate

It was our son’s last day on Tiree before returning to his home well south of the Scottish border. He wanted to make the most of the time remaining and chose to go for a walk along the sand at Gott Bay. It was late afternoon, around 4:45pm, just in time to see the MV […]

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Affinity

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.

Kenavara from the Maze

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.

Balinoe Beach Approach

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.

Ben More and Distant Peaks from Traigh Crionaig (Tiree)

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.

Wild Flowers with Distant Outer Hebrides from track to Ben Hough

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.

Loch Riaghain

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. 

Inlet by the Ringing Stone

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.

The Ringing Stone

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!

Ringing Stone – Cupmarks clearly seen

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’.

Bluebells on the Reef by Baugh Beach

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.

Gott Bay Moorings

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. 

Fishing Boat in Gott Bay

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.

Sammy or is it Sally?
Sammy and Sally

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?

Gott by Gott Bay

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.

MV Clansman in the Gunna Sound

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

Loch Riaghain

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Playing Catch-Up

It is hard to believe that it is almost a week since we returned to our island home. Having spent almost three weeks on holiday in Oxfordshire with family and with a few days visiting Stratford Upon Avon, we stopped overnight in Falkirk on our way home in order to sail on the Tuesday afternoon […]

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No’ awa’ tae bide awa’

Life on Tiree has literally been that for the past five months. Our last visit to the Mainland was In early December 2020 when we had to visit Oban for hospital and dental appointments Fully vaccinated and after allowing more than the required three weeks for immunity to be built up, we set out last […]

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Hare! Hare!

Before moving to Tiree I was always understood to be a rabbit and in my relatively long life I have moved around the country. I cannot remember where I came into existence, but I came to live when my present owners when they lived in Oxfordshire. I was given to them as a present, so I guess you can say they adopted me. After Oxfordshire, I spent 10 years with them in the small market town of Wiveliscombe in Somerset. It is almost 8 years since I came to live with them on Tiree.

I came to Tiree thinking I was a rabbit

You may have noticed a cat sitting by my side, I guess it is a church cat. I have a book tucked under my arm, it is a Bible. I have heard some people call it the ‘Good Book’. It is more than just a good read. Far from a rule book, when you get to know the author it transforms your life for the better. I prefer not to wear what they call a ‘dog collar’ but for me this clerical collar is a fixture.

Do you like my whiskers?

As I have said, I have always thought of myself as a rabbit, but now I am not so sure. Rabbits, which build their homes in burrows, could wreck havoc on Tiree’s fragile landscape. Perhaps after all I am a hare.

A new outlook on life

Shortly before I moved with my human family to Tiree, I can remember them watching a four part television series called ‘Islands on the Edge’. On one episode there was a female hare that led the males on a merry dance. I have a feeling this particular scene was filmed around Balephuil. Perhaps that’s why my adopted family thought they had to go to Balephuil in an attempt to photograph hares.

I blend in to my Tiree surroundings

Hares are certainly not unknown around Scarinish, but in the past two weeks my adopted family have been excited on more than one occasion to look out the window and watch a hare feeding. Their excitement knew no limits when they spotted two hares. Mr and Mrs? They could not be sure. It was a good thing it was a digital camera they were using – the number of photographs they took. Somehow it has made them take more notice of me, but they seemed to think I needed to go under cover – perhaps they still think of me as a rabbit.

Hare we go again!
Watch me go!
Now there are two of us
Catch me if you can

Today they decided to cut the grass. (They have never ever mowed the lawn.) Perhaps they ought to go on a driving refresher course. They almost ran over a young frog. Just in time it hopped out of the way of the mower. I certainly felt safer tucked under the shrub.

Hares are not the only visitors to my patch. I particular like when feathered friends call, There was a time when the birds were more numerous but since my adopted family have stopped feeding them numbers have dropped off. I have heard them say they don’t want to encourage vermin – furry friends!

A splash of colour

In the past week or so they have renewed their interest in my surroundings. Lettuce and potatoes have been planted in containers as well as flowers. I think they might have been challenged by a colourful display they regularly pass on their daily walk around the township.

A new outlook on life

Rabbit or hare, I certainly enjoy ‘Life on Tiree’.

This is the view from my patch

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Playing Catch-Up

It feels as if ‘Life on Tiree’ is playing catch-up. I have been reminded and I am conscious that is quite some time since there has been a post. Life has just been busy in one or another.

From Scarinish, looking across to the Isle of Mull

For a start as a church family we have been unable to meet together as normal in An Talla due to the Covid restrictions. We do meet, it just has to be online at present and this involves a different set of skills and ways of communicating and sharing. However, it is such an encouragement to share together in our Sunday Gatherings in the presence of our living Lord – Jesus.

A sprinkling of snow around the remains of the Mary Stewart

We both enjoy walking and some weeks the weather has been against us, but whenever possible we get out. For much of the time our walks have been close to home, but throughout lockdown we have appreciated the freedom we enjoy on the island. At times we hardly met anyone, so social distancing was not a big issue.

It’s snowing!

A week into April and the daffodils were in bloom, yet at the same time we had snow showers. Thankfully it was only showers, unlike the experience on the Mainland. There have been cold northerly winds but frost is rare on the island, due to its position in the Gulf Stream which washes our shores.

April Showers -Snow Showers!

This past week we have had almost wall to wall sunshine. Blue skies have been the order of the day and the sea that surrounds the island turns the most amazing shades of blue.

Blue skies over Gott Bay

Whether or not it is the weather, but our daily walks are taking much longer. It is not so much that we are walking further, it is we are meeting more people and passing the time of day – naturally socially distanced!

I spy a hare outside the window

Rabbits would wreck havoc on Tiree’s fragile landscape, but as hares do not live in burrows they are acceptable. Unlike much of the Mainland they are not a rarity. We still say,  “Look over there – there’s a hare!” It is a special treat when observe one out of our window.

MV Clansman approaching the pier

For some people Monday’s relaxation of some of the Covid restrictions that will lead to the opening up of the island is a cause for concern. For other people the easing of some of the restrictions is most welcome, especially for those dependent on visitors for much of their income. 

Scarinish Old Harbour – Ready for Business

Tiree Sea Tours has been preparing for the season and both of their boats are in the water. In fact they have given them some exercise in preparation for the start of their trips. Surely a trip to see the Puffins on Lunga is a must.

Just testing and it’s all systems ‘Go!’

Tiree welcomes visitors. If visiting please respect our landscape, culture and community. Follow the guidance regarding testing before travelling to the island. We want to remain Covid free and safe. When on the island follow the guidance regarding visiting the shops. You will find helpful information at TIREE COVID-19

Sundown by Scarinish Harbour

Monday sees the start of the summer timetable for the ferry. Capacity is still restricted by social distancing measures, so make sure you book. Perhaps you never know, we meet you while out on one of our walks.

Scarinsh Harbour at Sunset

This is Life on Tiree.

Goodnight
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CANT — CAN

Watching the MV Clansman berth at the pier in Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree, I could not help thinking of a play words. As she turned in the bay in order to berth with her stern to the linkspan thee was a fair degree of CANT. The Southerly wind was gusting up to 41mph and there was a warning issued the previous day that the Oban, Coll, Tiree service was liable to disurption or cancellation at short notice.

CANT

Would she manage ro berth or not? “She can’t!” or Oh! Yes she CAN!” This was the Mighty One after all. In fact although those standing on the roundhead faced challenging conditions the lines were thrown, caught and the ropes hauled and secured. With her bow across the roundhead and the ropes in place she employed her powerful thrusters to bring her stern in towards the pier. With the bow ropes secured the ramp was lowered.

CAN! – The MV Clansman alongside the pier

With the conditions as they were there was no hanging around. As soon as the traffic movements were carried out and the few foot passengers safely on board the ramp was raised and the vessel prepared to head back out to sea.

WAITING FOR INSTRUCTIONS

A WATCHFUL PRESENCE ON THE BRIDGE

Preparing to head out to sea

POWER TO THE PROPELLORS

THRUSTING OFF FROM THE PIER

Bow Plunging into the Waves

Was there any doubt the ‘Mighty One’ would successfully berth? “Can’t – Oh! Yes she CAN!” What a picture as she headed out of the bay. There was to be no second stop at Coll. It was straight back to Oban today.

CAN

CAN

CAN

This is ‘Life on Tiree’ at the pier.

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