" 3. A Scottish Adventure ~ Final days on Tiree ~ "

Date & Time: Friday 11th - Monday 14th May 2012.

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

Places visited : Vaul Bay Broch plus Beinn Ceann a Mhara headland.

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

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

Weather : Sunny, often with a cool strong north westerly.  Prospect of rain on Sunday.



" A Scottish Adventure ~ Tiree " at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


Time to explore a little more of the island of Tiree today.

The morning dawned bright and clear but that strong breeze has eased a little so it was warm in the sunshine.

Time for a few moments for our dogs to play with Toby, Rockvale's resident canine host.

Bethan flirting as usual with a new male friend . . .

Harry showing concern at the close attention to "his" woman (even though she's actually his half-sister)

Today we return to the north side of the island . . . to Vaul Bay close to where we saw the kite-surfers yesterday.

We have been recommended to visit the remains of the ancient Broch that sits out on the headland.

New season's lambs play on the cliff tops, a very different scene to our Lakeland lambs where they start life in the green fields.

With the foreshortened perspective of the telephoto lens, we look across at Balephetrish Hill further west near our guest house.

Looking north, a hare takes off across the hill after being disturbed by our arrival.

Vaul Broch, looking in through the door opening.

Much of the stone has disappeared over time, possibly to build other houses in the locality.

There is still enough remaining on this well preserved broch

to be able to see the basic shape, the doorway

and the double wall / stairway structure.


Here Harry emerges from the rather low arch

of the small guardroom which controlled

the entrance doorway to the building.


From the sign, this building is thought to be over

two thousand years old.


Click here for more details

from the Scottish Ancient Monuments site

A lighter jacket today so it must be a warmer forecast . . . the heat of the sun having more effect as the wind speed drops.

On the walls of the broch, some delightful pink Thrift . . .
. . . and bright yellow Bird's Foot Trefoil.

The cloud builds over the mainland but out here on the islands the sky is clear.

Walking back to the car at Vaul Bay we climb a second small headland marked on the map as having a 'fort'

There is no obvious sign apart from a flat top but it does give a commanding position over the surrounding land.

Here an old croft has been renovated into someone's holiday home.

The small enclosure may have been an arable plot at one time with walls to keep the animals out.

A graceful Herring Gull flies past at close quarters.

 The fast dive and splash was difficult to predict !

Over the bay I watch as this Arctic Tern hovers and dives looking for a meal in the sea below.

Hold your cursor over the picture to follow him down.

A flock of Sanderlings . . . but there may be some others in there too !

We end our visit to Vaul Bay and in so doing pass this new kit-house being roofed in timber and felt,

a modern construction in an ancient environment.

- - - o o o - - -

From our restaurant table yesterday we looked across to the headland and thought it would be good to climb,

so with the weather in our favour yet again we drive back across the island and park up on the dunes near Sandaig.

Traigh nan Gilean . . . Gilean's Bay.

We parked opposite and walked the wonderful white sands.

On the beach we met a lurcher similar to our friend Jo's dog Jodie, only a bit younger and bouncier.

It turned out to be Jinn, Duncan and Polly's dog from . . . yes . . . the restaurant and the kite-surfing day.

Duncan was out for a run on the beach . . . it's a large island but a small world.

Our target for this afternoon was to climb the Beinn Ceann a' Mhara headland

which looked a lovely whale-backed headland jutting out into the sea on the south west of the island.

As we climbed we could get a better view of the west coast, the village of Sandaig and Beinn Hough, the small hill to the north of us.

The blue Heath Milkwort . . . finger for scale !
Spring Squill in the grassland, lighter colour in the sunshine.

( thanks to Helmut H and Sue S)

Nearing the top of the first slope.

No signs of a path so we just follow our noses.

Onto the main section of the headland and now we are onto real cliff scenery

A deep cleft below has a large number of birds and large waves breaking on the rocks.

Fulmars nesting on the ledges . . .
. . . and flying gracefully round in the rising air currents.
Gentle turns, flying in and out of the nest sites . . .
. . . their swirling flight seeming effortless in the breeze

If you are viewing this on a laptop, pick it up and wave it about to get the effect.

If you are using a desktop unit and large screen then I suggest you just use your imagination !

Down to earth to settle yourself back . . .

this Thrift and a skeleton of a neighbouring plant sitting quietly on the edge just caught my eye.

From the first summit there's a small downhill section and then a climb out to the second headland.

Just follow the wall and fence.

Lesser Celandine, like a buttercup but with more petals.
Even I could name the Primrose without checking the book.
Definitely blue Spring Squill flowers. ( thanks S.S. )
Single Bluebells were dotted throughout the grass.

From the top we had a great view out across the island and the ocean.

Looking east across the island from the summit.

Click here or on the photo for a larger Loweswatercam 360 degree annotated panorama

On the different environment of the summit rocks, a patch of early season Stonecrop.

More Birds Foot Trefoil, common amongst the grasses on the island.

Which way now . . . decisions, decisions !

We make our way down to the lower headland  but not as far as the rocks.

Somewhere down here on the headland is St Patrick's Temple which would be nice to find.

In the mean time the zoom lens offers a reasonable close up of the Skerryvore Lighthouse.

At a height of 156 feet, you can see how low, yet extensive the Skerryvore Reef is and how it would be a danger to west coast shipping.

Rounding the headland and heading back along the other side we look down on some old foundations.

This would be the old chapel marked on the map.

Not much remains but that may be due to two bad-lads.  The notice alongside takes up the story . . .

Different crosses on opposite sides
The double-sided stone cross . . .
. . . and the site of the old monk's cell or house.

Hold your cursor over the left hand picture to see the other side of the stone and the second cross.

Balephuil Bay with the golf ball radar on the opposite hill that we climbed a couple of days ago.

Walking back around the end of the headland we actually came across a signpost to St Patrick's Temple,

the direction signs which were missing from our outward route.

Back down at six feet above sea level, actually seven as I was standing on a rock.

There was quite a lot of sea-bourne litter at the head of some of the bays but this flotsam was unusual to say the least.

I hope there was no tragic story behind how it got here, but it has sat for some time by the look of the rusty ironwork.

The march of the mollusc . . . a live common winkle I believe.

It won't be alive much longer if these guys have their way.

Just before the end of the walk . . . looking back at the headland across the Traigh nan Gilean waves.

- - - o o o - - -

Another end of day and chance to download photos for safe keeping.

Rockvale also offered wi-fi which was a bonus.

Ceabhar Restaurant Mackerel fishcakes . . . excellent . . . plus a delightful smoked cheese sauce.

Bright sunshine and a passing shower . . . leads to just one thing

and a wonder of nature it can be.

The light show from our restaurant window.

Sorry it wasn't falling on the restaurant . . . that would have made a memorable photo.

- - - o o o - - -

Rain showers . . . did I mention rain ?

Last night's shower was a precursor to the forecasted force eight gale.

It duly arrived on the Sunday, the day we were supposed to use the ferry to change islands.

As a result, the ferry was cancelled mid-crossing as the seas were too rough so we spent the day looking at this view.

At the ferry time of midday, during a lull in the storm, we did actually venture out . . .

to the ferry terminal to re-book our crossing for Monday's weather-permitting boat !

By the end of the afternoon the storm had blown over and we had chance to take the dogs out for a short walk on the beach.

The wind was still strong but at least the rain had stopped.

Trying to tell us how strong the wind was !
Wind-ometer . . . click here to estimate wind strength
Harry wanted to tell us himself.

Hold your cursor over Harry's picture to see him try.

There's no wind chart for Ann but you can tell the wind is strong.

Myself in silhouette . . . note the surf from the waves being blown across the wet sand.

Fortunately on the way home the wind was on our backs so we stood a fair chance of getting there.

Note the bright sunshine / passing shower situations again . . . as the faintest of rainbows falls on our guest house.

- - - o o o - - -

Next morning the ferry was confirmed as running so we re-packed our bags and said our goodbyes again.

We gave the dogs a run on Balephetrish Hill close to the bay before driving to the ferry port.

Rockvale is the house to the right of the barn with the red doors.

The road with the yellow wagon is one of the main roads on the island.

Balephetrish Hill has an ancient fort shown on the map.

The summit has an underground chamber, however the Historical Monuments Site suggests it is a more modern stone-lined well.

A Fulmar glides in the updraft of the hill . . .
. . . and swings effortlessly back and fore.

The Fulmar is there on the extreme left of this picture of Balephetrish Farm too.

On the way back to the car, we passed an old quarry with several items of old abandoned machinery.

This is what happens to an old Massey Ferguson bright red hay bailer when you leave it out in the salty air . . . rusty or what !

Sailing in on time . . . the Macbraynes Ferry "Lord of the Isles"

ready to take us to our next destination . . . the Island of Coll.

[ but more of that on our next report ]


- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, my Canon G10 or 1100D Digital SLR.

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

This site best viewed with . . . . somewhere to stay on  rainy day.

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