You would be forgiven for thinking the turquoise water and white sands belonged to a tropical island. The water temperature however is more baltic than Bahamas, a quick dip in the bracing Scottish sea would soon makes the difference apparent. It’s just as well, without the cold this beautiful island would surely be hoaching with tourists. I’ve done my fair share of traveling, but nowhere beats the west coast of Scotland. On the right day that is.
Tiree was labelled the land beneath the waves due to its low profile which was a good thing for us as we were there to take part in the Tiree Ultra Marathon. The small island community is connected to the mainland by a ferry link to Oban. You can get to Oban by bus or train from Glasgow; if you drive the free car park by atlantis is the best / only place to leave your car. Don’t take your car on the ferry if you can help it as it’s expensive. Tiree is small enough that you don’t really need a car; take a bike instead since its free anyway.
In Scotland we have the right to roam so there is no such thing as trespassing. As long as you don’t litter, disturb livestock or generally make a nuisance of yourself then you are free to camp pretty much anywhere. The lush flat terrain means you wont find it difficult to pick a spot but if you enjoy the finer things in life such as hot water and showers then there is a camp site which is very affordable. The blustery wind that sweeps over the island means you shouldn’t have to contend with the dreaded midges which can plague outdoor pursuits elsewhere in Scotland.
This wind also blew all the trees off Tiree. If you are thinking of having a camp fire you will have to bring your own wood or find drift wood on the beach. We had a fire to roast marshmallows on one night. I dug a pit in the sand and then used stones to build a mini dry stone wall to keep the wind off the fire. If you are going to have a fire on the beach a great tip is to fold sheets of tin foil ontop of each other to create a heat reflecting base to build your fire on. This stops the sand (high specific heat capacity) absorbing all the heat from your fire so it will burn better!
For the outdoor types Tiree has good surfing/kite surfing/windsurfing, great trails all around the island and up Ben Hynish. There is a centre showing how the lighthouse on skerryvore was constructed which is pretty interesting and some other attractions such as the ringing stone (A boulder which rings when you hit with a stone). The weather’s quick changing, if you can’t be outside you can get some grub at beachcomber cafe or attend a ceilidh. Once a year crowds descend for the Tiree music festival which I’ve heard is a great laugh but am yet to attend.
Our trip to Tiree was great fun, I hope you head over. If you do, keep you eyes peeled for the huge basking sharks (harmless) which congregate there in the summer months and don’t dare leave without a dip in the sea! Thanks to Dr MacG and the Vu Tang Clan (and Rob) for making it such an enjoyable trip, pictured below.