Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Thu, 2010-01-14
Part of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, the island of Tiree, 10 miles long and 4 miles wide in parts, home to some 800-900 people, is a great place to get away from it all.
Located to the west of the Isle of Mull and just south of neighbouring Coll, it is one of the sunniest places in Britain thanks to its exposed location on the Atlantic Ocean.
This also means that it is one of the most windy places too which is why its waves and white sandy beaches are popular with windsurfers. Every October the island hosts a world championship windsurfing event.
Tiree is the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides and thanks to its exposed location on the Atlantic Ocean, it is one of the sunniest places in the UK. It’s also one of the windiest and consequently is a mecca for windsurfers, particularly each October when the island hosts the Tiree Wave Classic, a world championship windsurfing event.
Though only 10 miles long and 5 miles wide, the sky and sea stretch from horizon to horizon. With no woodland and only three sizeable hills on an otherwise flat landscape, there is nothing to obscure the view. And the only sounds you are likely to hear are the waves lapping on the vast expanses of white sand beaches and a myriad of birdcalls. Many other people come to the island simply to enjoy the many beautiful empty white sandy beaches and dunes, the rich variety of wild flowers and the extensive bird life.
Tiree is often described as the Caribbean of the Hebrides not because of the likeness in temperature but because of the glorious beaches, clear blue Hebridean water and lots of sunshine. Winter, summer, autumn or spring, Tiree reflects the seasons in it’s own individual way. In spring the island is a fabulous carpet of daisies and buttercups, a rich pasture to welcome our new born lambs. Long spring days when it hardly ever gets dark give way to the full summer season, where plenty of sunshine and sea breezes (and the odd wee shower or misty morning) will set the scene for your days’ activities.
Wherever you go on Tiree you will be only too aware of bird life. On the beaches an rocky coastal strips vou will see gulls, turnstones, oystercatchers, ringed plovers shellduck, elders. sanderlings. etc., while inland tlie delightful lapwings and lark seem to be everywhere.
At the Sandaig Island Life Museum volunteers enjoy sharing stories about the thatched cottages and their eclectic collection of artefacts from Tiree’s past. It is open all year round but the summer exhibition is open July to September, on Tuesday to Saturday afternoons. A few miles west of here is the Clach a’Choire, or ‘ringing stone’, a huge glacial granite boulder covered in Bronze-Age cup marks which makes a metallic sound when struck. Legend has it that should it ever shatter, or fall off its pedestal, then Tiree will sink beneath the waves.
Kenavara is home to the fulmars. kittiwakes, razorbills. shags and cormorants. while off shore the gannets dive. Barnacle, grey lag and white-fronted geese and wopper swans winter on Tiree and there are large numbers of snipe. The corncrake with his rasping call still nests on Tiree, the phalarope skulls in lonely places and buzzards glide silently overhead. Many an island in the Hebrides, blessed with machair land, has been called ‘The Isle of Flowers’, but Tiree with so much machair must surely be the most richly endowed. In high summer the variet, profusion and exuberance of colour is almost unbelievable.
Autumn brings clear bright weather and the start of the big waves, without which we would not be annual hosts of the Tiree Wave Classic international windsurfing competition; the world’s best windsurfers compete against each other at one of the most challenging of UK sporting events. The competition attracts over 700 visitors to the island every year. Tiree’s rugged coastline, superb waves and £5000 prize fund provide the riskiest and most adventurous challenge yet for windsurfing’s elite competitors.
The ferries from Coll and further afield arrive at Scarinish, which shares the bulk of the island’s services and facilities with Crossapoll, a few miles to the west. Tiree boasts several interesting archaeological remains including a broch and several crannogs, plus museums at Sandaig and Hynish, which give an insight into island life in the past.
More recently the island was described by Helen Story in her article ETHICA as ”an enchanted island … The sea rolls on in miles and miles of sandy bays with opalescent reflections in its pools and shallows… And when the sun drops towards the west a gorgeous transformation scene takes place, with a light that never was on sea or land. The sky changes to orange, gold, rose, the clouds above are crimson in the setting sun, while to the east the hills of Mull stand out amethyst against a background of pale primrose, their hollows just touched with the gleam of gold. Rhum and Skye seem towering to heaven, and in the far south Jura, and in the far north Uist, lie soft like pale blue pearls.”
Cycling is a pleasure on this flat island with its good road surfaces. See Tiree on horseback is another idea to take you further off the beaten track. Sand yachting in Gott Bay is something different. Try out Vaul Golf Club with its 9 scenic holes. Great beaches for kids (and adults), wonderful walking, cycling & bird watching, as well as extreme sports like wind and kite surfing.
Kirkapol Church is a continuing witness to the Christian faith that stretches back to Columban times. Built in 1842 by architect-contractor Peter MacNab as a simple square box with galleries on three sides focused on a central pulpit.
Wild Diamond offers full tuition and hire facilities for a range of water sports with qualified instructors on hand to give you any help you need. Tiree provides a stunning range of beaches with conditions to suit novice to expert. windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing to island’s waves, sandyachting, stand-up-paddle boarding (SUP), BALINOE CAMPSITE all they have facilities.
Wild Diamond Burnside Cottage, Cornaig, Isle of Tiree, PA77 6XA
Tel: 01879 220399/07712 159205
The Hynish Centre, on the Isle of Tiree, in the Inner Hebrides, is let as a group accommodation centre to parties of all ages. It can be booked for a variety of purposes, including holidays, business training, educational courses, or cultural and recreational use.
The Hynish Centre Alan Stevenson House, Lower Square, Hynish, Isle of Tiree PA77 6UG, UK
Tel/Fax: 01879 220726
How to get to Tiree
Flights in light aircraft are available from Glasgow most days. These cost approximately 94 pounds return. Planes land on the island’s airstrip at The Reef.
The summer ferry service runs from Oban Monday to Saturday (except Thursdays) to Coll and Tiree. Crossings are usually made via Coll (Oban to Coll is 2 hours 45 minutes, then it takes almost an hour to go from Coll to Tiree), except on Fridays when the boat sails direct from Oban to Tiree which takes 3 and a half hours. Bikes are carried at a cost of 2 pounds each way on all sailings. Winter timetables may have few sailings. Vehicle reservation required – telephone 0990 650 000. For enquiries, tel: 01475 650 100 / fax: 01475 635 235.
Transport on Tiree – Comhdhail an Eilein
Tiree now has a Ring n’ Ride service provided by Argyll & Bute Council. This service is available on demand anywhere on the island between 7am and 6pm Monday to Saturday. Anyone can use this service. To book a journey contact Nancy MacKechnie (John Kennedy Taxis) on 01879 220419.
Isle of Tiree Genealogy: http://www.keithdash.net/
Isle of Tiree Community Discover Tiree, Balemartine, Isle of Tiree PA77 6UA
Telephone: 01879 220510
A personal website to guide you Isle of Tiree: http://www.tireeimages.com/
Tiree Renewable Energy Company Limited (TREL), owned by the island’s Community Development Trust: http://www.tireerenewableenergy.co.uk/
Much of the Hebridean Trust‘s initial work has been based on the Isle of Tiree, in the Hebrides, where efforts have been focused on increasing the number of visitors and their local expenditure whilst preserving the island’s character. The Hynish Centre (Alan Stevenson House) was opened in 1991 by HRH Princess Royal and Morton Boyd House was opened in 1999. Further projects on the Treshnish Isles are also in progress. The Trust has been involved in projects throughout the Hebrides, including historical building restoration, housing and museum provision, environmental and ecological work, and marine and archaeological surveys.
The Hebridean Trust 75A Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PE, UK
Tel/Fax: (01865) 311468
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