A Day of Contrasts

In essence it began the day before on Sunday the 22nd of August. The day began bright and sunny, indeed warm for the Isle of Tiree. However, as morning gave way to afternoon parts of the island were bathed in sunshine while other parts were under a blanket of fog. For most of the day […]

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How Time Flies!

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 […]

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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 More Sleeps’

No more sleeps. The much anticipated day has finally arrived. In a few hours the ferry, the ‘MV Clansman’ should be arriving in Tiree an on board should be our daughter and son-in-law. On Sunday they travelled north and on Monday they spent the day sight seeing in Edinburgh. Their plan had been to visit […]

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Anticipation

One definition of ‘anticipation’ is ‘the act of looking forward – especially  pleasurable expectation’ and gives the illustration of looking forward with anticipation to their arrival. How apt this definition is to the arrival of family members on Tuesday’s ferry and the subsequent events of the coming few weeks. One of the joys of life on Tiree […]

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MELLOW YELLOW

‘Mellow Yellow’ or ‘Vibrant Yellow’? – That is the question. It is as if someone has had a riotous time painting the landscape. Although there is a vibrancy, upon reflection I will stick to the word mellow for the yellow blends in with the land and seascape. Wow! Did it feel it feel warm on […]

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Tentative Steps

There is good news, the island is slowly opening up with the return of summer temporary residents, regular holiday visitors and holidaymakers visiting Tiree for the first time.  At present the number of visitors is limited by the reduced passenger capacity of the ferry due to social distancing measures. 

Sheep grazing on the Machair at Caolas

In Scotland there are 5 COVID-19 protection levels (0-4) and Tiree along with most of Scotland’s islands, except the Isle of Skye which is connected to the Mainland by a bridge, is in Level One. Although this allows some more freedom to meet, great care still needs to be observed in order to prevent the introduction of the virus to the island.  Visitors are welcome but it is Scottish Government advice to do 2 Lateral Flow Tests before travelling to the island.

Caolas at the East End of Tiree

Tiree Medical Practice have issued an important message for all visiting the island. The message is available online. Other Covid related information for visitors is available and should be read and acted upon.

Ruaig for great beef

CalMac (Clyde and Hebridean Ferries) in the past month and more have had a whole series of vessels failing. The most notable is the MV Loch Seaforth, which suffered damage to one of her engine bearings and further issues to the engine crankshaft. This led to the MV Isle of Lewis being withdrawn from the Oban Barra sailing and transferred to the Ullapool Stornaway service. All this had a ripple effect across the whole network. The encouraging news is the MV Loch Seaforth has left dry dock (28/05/2021) and providing sea trials are successful she will return to her home waters.

The late arrival of Sunday’s delayed sailing

Thankfully the MV Clansman has continued to serve Coll and Tiree, although the network problems led to some changes to the normal timetable. On a Wednesday the ferry normally includes a sailing to Barra resulting in a later return sailing to Coll and Oban. Latterly this was replicated on a Thursday. Additionally the Sunday sailing from Oban to Coll and Tiree and return was delayed until 3:15 (instead of 07:00) to enable the ferry to return from Barra., having sailed there the previous evening.

The MV Clansman in Gott Bay on Sunday

Last Sunday the sailing was further delayed due to operational reasons and then shortly after the MV Clansman had departed Oban Ferry Terminal she had engine problems and there was some question of a possible return to Oban. To the relief of the crew and passengers the issue was resolved and the ferry was able to continue with her sailing to Coll and Tiree.

Magnificent Gott Bay

The sun came out to welcome the arrival of the ferry. It had been a wild and wet morning and early afternoon but the sky was blue and the sea was calm in Gott Bay as the ‘Mighty One’ berthed.\

Spring has finally sprung

On Wednesday evening those looking skyward were treated to a full moon known as a Blood Moon. Although the same could not be said for much of the UK, the full moon was clearly visible in the night sky above Tiree. The red colour was obvious, however the camera ought to have been mounted on its tripod. The full moon has resulted in quite dramatic tide conditions. We are now at that time of the year when on Tiree the hours of darkness are increasingly limited.

This week’s Blood Red Full Moon

Throughout the pandemic the island’s Baptist Church has hosted its ‘Sunday Gathering’ on Zoom and later in the day releasing a recording of the event on YouTube and Facebook. On the first Sounday in June the church will be able to meet once again in An Talla, the island’s community hall. The encouraging news is that although numbers will be restricted due to social distancing measures, congregational singing is permitted as at present the island is in ‘Level One’. Those intending to attend on the Sunday will be required to register their intention to come in order to avoid being disappointed as numbers are restricted.  The intention is to continue to continue to broadcast on Zoom and whenever possible to release a recording later.

Leaping for Joy

For the Baptist Church, these are the first tentative steps. Masks will still be required, hands will be required to be sanitised, and we will have to sit socially distanced – but it will be great to meet together in the same space.

Tiree Baptist Church Welcomes You

This is ‘Life on Tiree’.

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Amended Timetable

It’s Thursday 27th May 2021 and due to the technical fault affecting MV Loch Seaforth, an amended timetable is in operation. Instead of the normal timetable of a Oban – Coll – Tiree – Coll – Oban sailing an additional leg has been factored in. From Tiree the MV Clansman continued on to Barra.

MV Clansman in the Little Minch

With an appointment for coffee to be kept in the morning it was impossible to observe the progress of the MV Clansman through the Gunna Sound on her way via the Little Minch to Barra. So this afternoon around 4:30 there was the opportunity to watch the return of the ‘Mighty One’. Parking at one of the higher spots on the road between Ruaig and Caolas the ferry could be seen out in the Little Minch.

The MV Clansman about to enter the Gunna Sound

The weather was favourable with only a slight breeze, blue skies and a a calm sea. It is always a pleasure to observe the stately approach of the ‘Mighty One’ through the Gunna Sound. The ‘Sound separates Tiree and Coll and takes its name from an island there.

The MV Clansman with the Isle of Rum as a backdrop.

As the ferry enters the Sound, the Isle of Rum is a great backdrop and on this occasion the outline of Rum was clearly visible.

The MV Clansman enters the Sound

Right on schedule the ferry entered the Sound. There was no fanfare to herald her arrival. There was only the steady thob of her engines.

The MV Clansman approaches the navigation buoy.
The MV Clansman ploughs her way through the waters off the Sound

Before the ferry leaves the Sound, Ben Hiant on the Ardnamurchan Peninsular can be seen in the distance.

The MV Clansman leaves the Gunna Sound

As the vessel leaves the Sound and enters the Passage of Tiree, the mountain peaks on Mull including the munro ‘Ben More’ provide the backdrop.

The backdrop is the west coast of the Isle of Mull

Instead of returning directly the pier at Scarinish, the next point of observation was from the sandy shore of Gott Bay.

The MV Clansman enters Gott Bay

The shoreline of Gott Bay gave a completely different view of the ferry, in particular her berthing alongside the pier. For normal the view would be across the pier.

The ‘Mighty One in Gott Bay
The MV Clansman swings to come alongside the pier stern first.
The approach to the pier
Preparing to berth
A yacht with an amazing view of the MV Clansman
A surfer’s kite provides even more colour
Almost there!
A view from the Roadway

Under the favourable conditions the ferry berthed on time alongside Tiree’s pier, Gott Bay, Scarinish. For the past two weeks the MV Clansman has sailed out to Barra on a Wednesday and Thursday. Thankfully, other than have three ferries with a late arrival in Oban, Tiree has been unaffected by the woes of the MV Loch Seaforth.

The MV Clansman

This is ‘Life on Tiree’

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