" A Scottish Adventure ~ 2. Scarinish & Skerryvore "

Date & Time: Thursday 10th - Friday 11th May 2012.

Locations : The Island of Tiree, part of the Scottish Inner Hebrides group of islands.

Places visited : Scarinish Harbour, Gott Bay, Salum Bay and the Skerryvore Museum.

Accommodation : The Rockvale Guest House, Balephetrish Bay, Tiree.

With : Ann and myself plus the dogs, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Sunshine and blue skies but with a cool NW breeze.  Some cloudy spells.



 " A Scottish Adventure " at EveryTrail

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A beautiful morning on Tiree

as we look across from our guesthouse across to the Airport, and beyond to the Air Traffic Radar that we visited yesterday.

It is weather reports from the airport that go to make the detailed shipping forecasts on the radio.

This morning we call over to Scarinish Village next to the ferry port and take a walk down to the delightful harbour.

On the beach the backbone of an old trader that ended its days here in the bay.

The weathered bow section set against the blue sky.

If nothing else, it makes a good anchor point for modern mooring ropes in the harbour.

It was all that remains of the sailing vessel Mary Stewart.

Nowadays the harbour is just used by the local fishing boat

as everything comes to island by air or the famous Caledonian Macbrayne ferries.

A second and smaller old wooden boat lies at the head of the beach.

Most of the equipment has long gone but there's still most of the old sheath of copper on the hull.

The Scarinish Hotel sits on the back of the bay to the left.

A small inshore fishing vessel . . . with an apparent Salcombe (South Devon SE8) registration number.

The main catch would seem to be lobster and possibly crayfish by the look of the pots scattered round the pier.

Lovely thrift again . . . growing on some pink granite, the classic Tiree marbled rock.

This could almost be an underwater shot of a coral reef

but it is the same rock with a healthy grown of lichen, indicative of an environment with plenty of good, clean sea air.

- - - o o o - - -

As we wonder round the village and in fact the entire island, we notice a trend in housing which is quite different to our part of the world.

" A Spotted House "

The granite blocks are almost hidden by the cement grout which has subsequently been over-painted.

" A more modern Croft House "

The house has a corrugated iron roof.  The smaller end may have been the original family home or built as an byre.

" A classic thatched house "

Often thatched with straw rather than reeds as in the old days.  They needed re-thatching every few years due to the wild, winter weather.

The black-roofed cottage behind has a modern wood and pitch-painted roof.

In Scarinish Museum they had a model of a thatched house.

The wide stone walls were double-skinned with an infill of sand to provide a wind-proof barrier.

The width of the side walls also helped to deflect the strong winds and so protect the thatch.

This old cottage has had a roof conversion but is still based on the old, thick wall system.

Many of the old houses have been renovated but as ever on remote Hebridean islands, some are second homes or holiday lets.

- - - o o o - - -

While in Scarinish we called back to the pier to see an award winning " artwork structure"

An Turas was designed as a shelter for those waiting for the ferry boat.

Design by Sutherland Hussey Architects, it received several architectural awards and has featured on the 64p Royal Mail stamps.

A local frog shows me the long open corridor . . .
. . . leading to the dark tunnel with the light at the end of it.

Having been subjected to sensory deprivation while you walk through the long corridor

the glass viewing area at the end re-awakens your senses to the wonders of the island.

When it's not raining and you're not waiting for a ferry . . .  we prefer the real thing

Click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama of Gott Bay.

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We head east now, across the expanse of Gott Bay, towards the eastern end of the island.

A single wind turbine providing power for some of the island.
The white shell sands at Caolas.

Pity about the rhythmic rumble as the blades turned and the constant movement which was a distraction from the beauty of the surroundings.

[ Still a single, local installation like this does give the islanders an element of 'green' power.]

There are plans a-foot for a mega wind farm off-shore potentially providing one fifth's of Scotland's power but at a huge cost to the local environment.

Read about it here and check out the opposition's view here.  I know who I support.

Back to the beauty of Tiree.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama of the beach at Caolas, Gunna Sound.

The dogs enjoyed a run on the sand.

Not only is the sea colourful but the ancient rocks have superb colour striations too.

Harry finds a mooring buoy washed up on the sand.
It will make a good football to play with.
The strong wind pushes it towards the surf.
Suddenly it is floating away across the bay.

Sorry Harry . . . it's floating away far too fast for you to follow.

A change of bay and time for a little snack for lunch . . . Salum Bay.

Tiree is famous as the "Kite Surfing" capital of Scotland

and these local exponents have harnessed the power of the wind to great effect.

It soon dawns on us that this couple were Duncan and Polly from the Ceabhar Restaurant where we ate last night.

That was Polly taking the first Kite across the bay.

Duncan takes the reins as he enjoys the conditions . . .
. . . a flying turn as he prepares to tack back across the bay.

The red Kite belongs to an island friend of theirs, Steve.

Two in the same frame, flying in opposite directions.
Steve's big turn lifts him high into the air.

Finally we leave them to enjoy the strong winds on their North Tiree coastal playground.

- - - o o o - - -

A beautifully sunny day but that strong wind still suggests a good coat as we find ourselves in Hynish,

towards the south west corner of the island, where the old harbour tells of an important history.

The jetty and associated dock were constructed under the supervision of Alan (and later Thomas) Stevenson, as part of a major engineering project

to build a Lighthouse 14 miles out to sea on the notorious Skerryvore Reef.  (both gentlemen were uncles to the famous author, Robert Luis Stevenson)

The six year project also included all the shore-based lighthouse keepers accommodation and support services

and spanned the years 1838 to 1844.  [ These were the buildings we had seen from the 'golf ball' a day or so ago.]

The signal tower, a mini-lighthouse project in itself, was used for direct line of sight, flag or light communication with the main building out on the reef

in the days before radio was invented.   Skerryvore was a manned lighthouse and semaphore communication depended on good visibility of course.

It also helped to have a powerful telescope I imagine.
One of the buildings now houses an interesting museum
A model of the 156 feet, stone-built lighthouse.
The display suggests how it was constructed.

All the stone was cut and dressed to the correct size and shape on-shore, then carried out by boat, finally being hoisted into position by crane.

The project first started using Hynish granite but this was found to be too hard to cut, so it was decided to switch

to the pink granite rock from the Ross of Mull.  You can just imagine the angst that went on behind that decision.

Following improvements in technology, the light is now unmanned and the shore station buildings are being developed for local housing.

- - - o o o - - -

Also one of the other buildings at Hynish hosts a photographic exhibition about the Treshnish Islands and their wildlife.

The islands are situated off the coast of Mull . . .
. . . and are host to major colonies of bird life.

Particularly notable in season are the large numbers of Puffin,

razorbills and guillemots that breed on the island.

The islands are no longer inhabited and are so isolated that the Puffins

have no fear of humans.

We had the pleasure of visiting the islands in 2003

whilst on a Northern Light boat trip around the Inner Hebrides.

Click here or on the photo above for our pictures from that time.

Time to give the dogs a stroll on the beach at Hynish.

A combined flock of Sanderlings (white belly) Dunlin (black belly) and Ringed Plover are scouring the tide-line for a meal.

With that long curved beak and distinctive trill "cool-li" sound . . . the Curlew searches the shallow water for lunch.

(Thanks again to R.A. and I.S. for info on these two photos)

The ever present oystercatchers with their distinct black and white plumage.

- - - o o o - - -

Back to base now at Rockvale.

Chance to catch up on the diary . . .
. . . or perhaps some other important work !

Dinner was already booked again at Ceabhar

so we drove over to the west coast via Cornaigmor and the old mill, a surprise to find on such a flat island.

The mill, last operational in the 1930's, was powered by water from Lock Bhasapoll.  The mill stream is still running.

A classic row of thatched cottages at Sandaig housed an old rural museum.

Sadly this photo (taken in the full light of day) shows the poor state of the buildings.

Unfortunately the museum of rural life is temporarily closed and shows no sign of re-opening,

Time for a delightful meal in good company, with a view of the Skerryvore lighthouse out of one window

and the headland of Beinn Ceann a' Mhara out of another.

We decided a walk to its summit would be a great idea for us in the next day or so.


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Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot, or my Canon G10 / 1100D digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . . plenty to see and still plenty to do.

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