Author Archives: admin

Tiree’s Sensational Surfer Heads to Japan

Tiree local Ben Larg has this week returned from competing in the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Junior Surfing Championships held in Hyuga, Japan.

Ben was part of the Scottish team taking part in the event which included himself, competing in both the under 18s and under 16 competition. Ben was joined by fellow Scot, Peter Laing from Edinburgh who took part in the under 18 section. Earlier this year Ben was crowned Scotland’s under 18 year old Surfing Champion, a massive achievement for a boy of only 12 years old! It was a no brainer, that Ben would then be part of the Scotland team that was chosen to represent our country in Japan.

The ISA World Junior Championship is the largest surfing contest in the world and has launched the careers of many top professional surfers. The event in Japan will define the future stars of surfing, some of whom could be the first surfers to represent their country in the Olympic Games, as surfing makes its debut at the Tokyo Games in 2020.

The Scottish team arrived in Japan last Friday, after setting off from Tiree and Edinburgh. Ben was joined by his dad and coach Marti Larg along with a representative from The Scottish Surfing Federation who have been supporting both boys throughout their surfing careers. The opening ceremony took place on Saturday, where each team was introduced, proudly flying their flags and decanting their own locally sourced sand.

The competitions begun on Sunday with over 40 countries taking part in a variety of heats. Ben and Peter put in an excellent effort within each heat they took part in, before both were eliminated in round one of the repechage heat – a heat dedicated to those that have marginally failed to meet the requirements within the qualifying round. Ben was only 2 points away from the other two competitors who advanced to the next stage. Considering Ben still has 4 years to compete within the under 16 competition, I’m more than sure he will at some point achieve a top spot at an International level.

For a boy of only 12 years old it is fair to say that Ben has already achieved a huge amount in the world of surfing, already being crowned the Scottish Champion – I am sure he will only continue to improve as the years go on.

Congratulations to Ben who did a fantastic job of representing his country. We hope he continues to do so over the next few years and I look forward to reporting on his next surfing achievement, which I am sure will come very soon! Well done once again.

Ultra Marathon Kindness

I’ve just returned from running the Tiree Ultra and wanted to thank everyone on Tiree for being such incredible hosts.

Of course huge thanks to Will, and every member of his team who made it happen, stood out in the wind and rain to marshal, cheered us on and welcomed us back with such enthusiasm. I was also lucky enough to be the recipient of kindness from many other people on the island – when my bike fell apart 5 minutes after getting off the ferry, a gentleman whose name I didn’t catch kindly picked me up from the roadside and drove me to Millhouse Hostel.

David at the hostel went back to fetch my bike and gave it a good enough fix that I didn’t have to abandon it.

Neil, who just happened to be driving the right way at the right time, drove me back to the hostel after the run, and then gave me a lift to the ferry the next morning, which my weary legs were hugely grateful for!

Thanks of course to the landowners who let 200+ muddy feet tramp across their land and many other people who I probably haven’t even thought of but who helped it all happen. The ultra showcases not just the incredible natural beauty of the island, but also its amazing people – thank you!

Sue Gyford

Kirkapol Dig Success

As the last turf was replaced, the team involved in the excavation of Cnoc an Fhoimheir ‘the hillock of the giant’ could reflect on two successful weeks. Dr Colleen Batey from the University of Glasgow came to the site and agreed that there was no sign of a Viking boat burial. The last few days could then be focussed on exploring the cist itself in painstaking detail.

The stone chamber was beautifully constructed using four massive and unusual slabs of stone. As several people remarked, these slabs must have taken some finding amongst the boulders of Tiree gneiss, showing how much effort had gone into making this monument. Removing the sand a trowelful at a time, the archaeologists discovered more bones and a flint thumbnail scraper. We found that the capstone, as it was lying, was not aligned with the structure of the cist. In addition, one of the smaller stones blocking the side of the cist looked very much like a piece of pink granite from the Ross of Mull. This would have come from the Skerryvore workshops in Hynish some time after 1838.

A team on the island, lead by Myra MacArthur, has now started the laborious process of wet sieving the sand found inside the cist, finding fragments of pottery, charcoal, a cowrie shell and fragments of modern slate! All of this suggests that the grave has been opened several times in the last four thousand years, sometimes through the side, but at least once by taking off the capstone – not an easy task without modern machinery!

Two other trenches were opened nearby after magnetic tests suggested structures. In these, we found more pottery and flint tools, as well as buried plough marks from fields lost under the sand. The land we have called Lodge Farm since Lady Victoria Campbell lived next door in The Lodge, near a stream and a medieval mill site as it is, has been home to people for thousands of years.

The response from the island has been fantastic, with around twenty volunteers digging, scraping, cleaning and holding survey poles, and over fifty visitors coming to inspect the dig. Almost all the pupils at the school were given a tour of the site.Several cakeswere donated; they did not last long.The weather, you could say,was “mixed”: a mixture of breeze, gales, soaking showers and wind. The sun did shine one day.

At this early stage, Cnoc an Fhoimheir looks to be a grave dating from the Bronze Age, around four thousand years ago. The bones appear to be fromoneman, presumably one of high status. An analysis of the bones, flints, pottery, and charcoal by experts in Glasgow will give us a lot more information. Carbon dating and isotope analysis will tell us the exact date of the bones, as well as information about where he grew up. This will all be included in the full report, due to come out early next year.

The last day was spent returning all the soil into the holes we had dug days earlier. Apparently, this endless cycle of earth moving is what archaeologists do. The cist itself has been covered over and temporarily turfed. Our aim is to restore the bones carefully back in the grave in a few months time, and then replace the capstone. Forme, as a first-time digger, opening this grave and finding a man’s skeleton was a powerful moment, and I feel I want to respectfully put it all back together again. There is always a debate about the merits of leaving monuments like this alone to sleep their historical sleep. I feel that, in this case, it was important to try to understand something about some of the earliest peoples that settled on Tiree. There has been a lot of interest around the island and beyond, and I have already been asked by some of the volunteers to set up a group to organise the next dig!

We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the major grant that made this possible, and the additional funding from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the Windfall Fund.

Dr Darko Maricevic from the University of Bournemouth makes the final archaeological visit of the year in October. He would like to continue his earlier work using geophysics on more of the island’s lumps and bumps

.Centimetre by centimetre,we are starting to discover more about the past of our ‘secret island’.

Dr. John Holliday

Tiree Ranger Service – Autumn Access Update

As we enjoy a slight lull before the competitive watersports season begins, I would like to update you all on some of our ongoing access issues:

At the beginning of this year, I informed you of our aspirations to provide a new, permanent and sustainable parking area for Crossapol Beach. This is still very much our goal. However, progress with our intended project partners has been somewhat glacial.

With support from SNH we are now working to a spring 2018 delivery. Delays such as this are extremely frustrating: Pushing this project has taken up a considerable amount of my time. Nonetheless, with the extra room for planning, we are making progress towards an improved final result. I would like to thank all of the guests, local residents and local business operators who have respected the temporary arrangement at Crossapol. Your cooperation and consideration has been greatly valued and appreciated during this tricky period – there have been no issues to speak of.

At Balephuil, access to Balephuil Bay is shifting. Following a change in apportionment, the current, badly degraded access track will no longer be in use. Recreational access to the beach will follow a new fence line to a fenced parking area. This change has been implemented by graziers through the proper and necessary channels. The beach will still be fully accessible for larger events by prior arrangement. On behalf of the Ranger Service and AccessGroup, I would like to thank the graziers for maintaining and improving access to this site at considerable trouble and expense.

At Balevullin Bay, repair work on the erosion damage commenced at the start of the season – my sincere thanks to those who assisted with this task. This autumn, we plan to continue the patch-repair of the erosion damage in the parking area; in addition to moving the rope boundary back to reduce the likelihood of vehicle rolling. New signage concerning the use of handbrakes will also be installed to this end.

I think it’s fair to say that there was a little controversy last month, with regard to the Croft Camping scheme, my role in managing it and the role of Tiree Ranger Service generally. My job is shaped by the community: I work to directives provided by the residents of Tiree, in addition to some core requirements from SNH. The Ranger Service post is fully transparent. Details of our aims and activities are available to view in the Tiree Ranger Service Development Plan – downloadable from the TDCT website. By joining community boards and committees, those with ideas for the improvement of Tiree Ranger Service and/or the Croft Camping Scheme have the power to influence the direction and remit of this post.

At present my duties include the management of Freedom Camping. I would like to remind those with strong views on the ranger post and what it achieves that I am available to discuss my work by appointment. Indeed, I welcome feedback and fresh insight.

As a professional, I extend courtesy to every person that I deal with; regardless of whether our views are aligned or not. I expect to be treated with the same level of courtesy as I dispense my duties on Tiree.

Stephanie Cope, Tiree Ranger Service

Is our ‘Sunshine Isle’ title in dispute?

Who remembers the ‘Tiree, Scotlands Sunshine Isle’ article which featured in the Guardian and was reprinted in An Tirisdeach (edition 654)?

Below is a response in the form of a letter that featured in the Guardian on Wednesday the 23rd of August:

If you want sunshine, head for East Kent

Although the Scottish island of Tiree looks idyllic (White sand, sunny skies and no midges, Travel, 29 July), the claim that it basks in “more hours of sunlight than just about any other location in the British Isles” caught my eye, as sunshine is our speciality here in East Kent.

I find that from the Met Office tables, Tiree has 1,477 hours of sunshine a year, whereas Manston, halfway between Herne Bay and Margate, enjoys 1,802 (and less than half the rain of Tiree).

Even the notoriously rainy Isle of Man gets 1,584 hours of sunshine in Douglas, and less rain.

Sun-seekers should be better informed as to where to seek their fix. (Although I respectfully doff my hat to Tiree’s many alternative pleasures.)

Jonathan Hollow

Tiree Community Council Meetings

Following a very short summer recess, the Tiree Community Council Meetings will resume as of September.

The first one will take place on Wednesday the 6th of September, following on from the usual pattern as the first Wednesday of the month. The start time is 7:30pm in An Talla and all are welcome. The agenda for the meeting is detailed below. Please also note the  Tiree Community Council took the decision earlier in the year to remove AOCB from the meeting agenda, this however doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you and would encourage all members of the community to let them know about any issues of concern. You can do so in a number of ways, email, written letter or having a chat with a community councillor. Please visit www.tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk for more information

MEETING ON WEDNESDAY 6th September 2017 7.30pm @ An Talla ALL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC WELCOME

1. Welcome and Apologies

2. Correspondence

3. Minutes of 7th June 2017 and matters arising

4. Tiree Community Council Elections, co-options and forward planning

5. Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL), Pier-head proposals

6. Tiree – Glasgow Air Service, implications following removal of security

7. Scottish Government, meetings during July/August, update.

8. Transportation updates

9. Public Library

10. Tiree Flag, verbal update

Please note. Tiree Community Council holds a monthly pre-agenda private meeting, which normally takes place approximately ten days following the public meeting. The meeting is solely to agree agenda items for inclusion and discussion at the following month’s public meeting. No decisions, other than these, are taken.

Golf Workshop Weekend

Last weekend, Vaul Golf Club welcomed Colin Fisher, a PGA awarded professional to Tiree to undertake a weekend of golf training with Tiree’s junior players.

Colin led a two day tutorial, focusing on a variety of golfing skills.

There were over nine youngsters attending the sessions and they all seemed to enjoy it, gaining a lot of new skills and improving their technique. The interest in the sessions was extremely encouraging for the adult golf members who helped out at the workshops, as they are always keen to encourage new members to join, especially juniors.

The workshops have followed on from the success of the Junior Training sessions that have been taking place over the last few months.

Tiree Trust would like to thank Ian MacLeod for organising the weekend, Rosemary Omand for making lunch and to the rest of the adult members who came along to supervise and assist.

Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands Visits Tiree

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands visited Tiree on Wednesday the 16th of August.

The visit was arranged by Tiree Community Council who had previously met with the Minister back in January of this year, in Holyrood. At the meeting, they invited the Minister to visit Tiree and were delighted when it came to fruition last week.

Mr Yousaf only had a few hours on Tiree due to an earlier than usual return flight to Glasgow, but managed to jam pack a number of visits and worthwhile conversations into the day, meeting with a variety of local businesses, visiting community projects and Milton Harbour where he was updated on the ambitious refurbishment plans currently being undertaken by the Tiree Trust and the Harbours’ Steering Group.

The Minister didn’t get to see Tiree in its best weather, as the rain and wind battered down most of the day. He was still very complimentary of our island as he posted pictures on Twitter of his arrival on the twin otter with the caption: ‘Arrived on Tiree. Looking forward to day of Ministerial meetings with the local community & businesses. Even wet & windy it looks stunning’.

After a quick tour of the island, the minister was treated to a beautifully prepared buffet lunch, where Tiree’s produce was showcased with a variety of local fresh shellfish and Tiree lamb and beef. The lunch was followed by a meeting, where the minister got the opportunity to hear from members of Tiree Community Council, Tiree Transport Forum, Tiree Community Development Trust, Tiree Rural Development, Tiree Community Business and Tiree Broadband regarding various island issues.

There was a variety of agenda items, the meeting starting off with a viewing of the recently released ‘Tiree Maritime Plan’ video which was created to promote the harbours’ development project. Mr Yousef was very positive about the project, having visited the site in the morning, he got first hand evidence of the type of conditions our fishermen are currently working in. He vowed to investigate what funding, if any, might be available from the Scottish Government to support this project.

The idea of Tiree and Coll having a dedicated councillor was also discussed, with the Minister indicating that he thought this would be a very positive move and something that he might be able to assist with.

The discussion around the Islands Bill was mostly centred on Argyll & Bute Council’s involvement, with Humza informing the group that A&B Council are the only council which has not sent its leader to the working group meetings. Instead, Policy Lead for the Islands, Robin Currie has attended. It was felt that this was not adequate and something that should be raised with Argyll & Bute Council.

The Crown Estate Consultation has been on the agenda of the Tiree Community Council for some time now, with the Crown Estate Scotland coming into operation on 1st of April this year and is tasked with managing Scottish Crown Estate assets on behalf of Scottish Ministers, which includes agricultural and forestry land, most of the seabed and around half of the foreshore, areas that could be crucial to future developments on and around Tiree. Mr Yousef was again very positive about trying to assist communities to investigate the possibility of Crown Estate Revenues going to local communities, at island level, and said he would forward on further information regarding this.

Other items discussed included the current lack of availability of good affordable backhaul (internet source) from BT for community broadband providers, in this instance Tiree Broadband, which currently cover areas on the island that BT cannot reach. A paper explaining the concerns was prepared and given to the Minister in the hope that he will back the case and see the need. It was suggested that a requirement to comply with this request should be included in the contracts for the next round of publicly funded infrastructure upgrades which is most likely to be delivered by BT. It was also discussed that the Transport Forum has expressed the community’s desire to have a consistent Monday, Wednesday, Friday ferry service throughout the winter, this request will be sent in writing to the Minister.

Overall, the visit from Mr Yousef was extremely positive. Although there is no guarantee that anything will come from the points mentioned above, it is very positive that we as an island can communicate at a one to one level with the Minister for Transport and the Islands and he has given us assurances that he will support us where he can. It is extremely encouraging that he took the time to come out to Tiree and mentioned that he feels it is his role and duty to visit and support rural and hard to reach communities such as ours.

We hope, in the near future we will be able to update you with positive developments on some of the points mentioned above.

Thanks to everyone who was involved in the meeting. A special thanks to Fiona Malcolm, Neil and Alison MacPhail and Eileen Tainsh who helped to create and serve a wonderful showcase lunch.

Tiree, Scotland’s ‘Sunshine Isle’ by Paul Rees

The below article featured in the travel section of The Guardian last Wednesday the 24th of July. With the writer, Paul Rees giving a rave review of our ‘sunshine isle’. Have a read and see what you think.

The last time I sat on the saddle of a pushbike I was still in short trousers. Forty years later, I was pedalling gleefully down an undulating single-track road on a clear blue mid-July morning. Either side, the road was framed by hedgerows and, beyond, untamed croft land was gold and purple thanks to an abundance of buttercups and heather. Up ahead lay an expanse of ocean, aquamarine and twinkling. The air was rich with birdsong and the scent of grasses and sea. There wasn’t a car in sight. It was like riding into the pages of an Enid Blyton story. Until, that is, a great black-backed gull swooped from on high, plucked an enormous brown rat from a roadside ditch, soared once more to the heavens and flung its poor victim back to Earth, and its doom.

Such are the enchantments and wildness of Tiree – resident population 650, and the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides. When I arrived the previous morning by ferry from the mainland port of Oban, it didn’t so much loom as sneak into view: pancake-flat but for Ben Hynish, the solitary, 141-metre hill, and all but treeless. Tiree, though, glories in what happens around and about its 36 miles of coastline. It both reinforces and gives lie to the cliche that the beaches of the Hebrides could belong to the Caribbean or Pacific, but for their weather, heather and midges. Tiree’s edges are indeed made up of numerous secluded crescent-shaped bays, each with fine, white sand, as picturepostcard perfect as the next, and near deserted. Thanks to the mild influence of the Gulf Stream, Tiree is the Sunshine Isle, basking in more hours of annual sunlight than just about any other location in the British Isles. Since it is also out in the Atlantic, and as such also Britain’s windiest place, it has the additional advantage of being inhospitable to the summer-long curse of most of Scotland’s islands and Highlands: midges.

The Gulf Stream also warms the waters around Tiree and its near-neighbour, Coll, and they teem with life. The latter half of my four-hour ferry journey was a marine adventure in itself. From my vantage point on the upper stern deck, I counted five surfacing minke whales, an eight-strong pod of leaping white-beaked dolphins and the arched black backs of many more harbour porpoise. Not to mention squadrons of gulls, shags, guillemots, arctic terns, marauding arctic skuas and diving gannets.

The three-mile drive from the tiny port of Scarinish to my accommodation covered a quarter of Tiree’s length. I stayed in a cosy, white-walled crofter’s cottage, Traigh Mhor, surrounded on three sides by heathland grazed by a herd of Highland cattle, and facing out to the island’s longest uninterrupted stretch of sand, Gott Bay. Other snug and hardy houses (with outer walls painted bright pink, yellow or red) are dotted along the track roads that criss-cross the island. At 12 in number, Tiree also boasts the highest concentration of traditional thatched buildings in Scotland. Tiree’s two exceptions to convention are House No 7 and An Turas. Nestled into a coastal promontory at the southern tip of Scarinish, the former is a multi-award-winning home. Designed and built for his parents by London-based architect Murray Kerr, it is a striking, but empathetic melding of an older, renovated cottage with a brace of more futuristic-looking, metal-clad, barn-like extensions. Sadly, it’s not for rent. Sited dockside at Scarinish port and Scotland’s 2003 Building of the Year, An Turas meanwhile is a standout cuboid structure of glass, metal and wood that serves as both art exhibition space and a shelter for foot passengers on the ferry. Both buildings bring a dash of daring to Tiree. Otherwise, Tiree is an escape from the fast pace of modernity and best seen from a bike (hired from various outlets around the island, from £8 a day).

On a glorious afternoon, I pedalled up and down Tiree’s southern extremity, visiting Balevullin Bay at one end and Balephuil Bay at the other. At Balevullin, surfers and windsurfers rode crashing whitewater waves. From Balephuil, the venerable Skerryvore lighthouse is visible on the horizon, standing guard on its base of jagged, treacherous rock. It was described by Robert Louis Stevenson as “the noblest of all deep sea lights”, and there is a charming museum to this 19th-century monument at the nearby township of Hynish. For lunch, I called at the Farmhouse Cafe, just around the headland from Hynish in Balemartine, which offers simple sandwich and snack fare. Sitting on a sun-dappled patio I was serenaded from the bordering grassland by the distinctive comb-scraping-on-matchbox call of corncrake. Later, I stopped off at Chocolate & Charms, a gift-and-snack shop in Heylipol, for a cup of rich, creamy hot chocolate. On this occasion, from my outside perch on a wooden bench, I was dive-bombed by batteries of swallows and sand martin.

Eating out at night in Tiree is also a rustic experience. The island has a handful of fish and chip shops, and the Cobbled Cow at Crossapol does meat and seafood dinners, but you will search in vain for fine dining. Best bet for an evening meal is to pick up something from Tiree Lobster & Crab in Scarinish. It’s basically a Portacabin in the car park next to the Co-op, and sells catch-of-the-day fish and shellfish at reasonable prices. On my last night on Tiree, I walked a mile up the road from my cottage to Salum Bay. This more rugged, tucked-away corner of the island hosts a 70-strong grey seal colony and affords a panoramic view of the Outer Hebrides, the shadow peaks of Barra, South Uist and Benbecula sweeping off into the further Atlantic.

At 11pm, the darkened sky was still gashed with the crimson of a setting sun and there was no sound but for the barking of seals and lapping waves.

Like Tiree, I was entirely at peace.

Loganair Flying Solo

It was announced at the end of last year that Scotland’s Airline Loganair will be ‘flying solo’ and operating flights in its own right from September the 1st.

With only one month to go until the current franchise agreement with Flybe and other airlines expires, Loganair has now released images of the newly painted aircrafts which will continue to operate on all current routes, Tiree included.

The tartan inspired design will be rolled out to all aircrafts and uniforms of their 600-strong team, introducing a new, definitively Scottish identity to the skies.

Loganair provide over 1,000 flights each week across 46 routes, offering unrivalled connectivity for Scotland and with operations stretching as far afield as London, Norwich, Manchester, Dublin, and Bergen in Norway. It has almost 300 flights each week to and from Glasgow, and is the largest operator at key airports throughout the Highlands & Islands including Inverness, Sumburgh, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Tiree.

The extensive Loganair network also includes the world-famous “times subject to tide” operations to the beach airport at Barra and the world’s shortest scheduled flight, linking the Orkney islands of Westray and Papa Westray with daily flights taking only two minutes.

Scotland’s Airline has operated its services under franchise agreements with British Airways, from 1993 to 2007, and latterly with Flybe from 2007. The current franchise arrangement with Flybe will continue till the 31st of August 2017.

Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of Airline Investments Ltd, Loganair’s parent company, stated back in November: “Although Loganair has flown as a franchise carrier for larger airlines over the last 24 years, there is still a huge level of recognition and affinity for the Loganair name throughout Scotland and beyond. We believe the time is right for Scotland’s Airline to now spread its wings once again, and are delighted to be introducing a bold new corporate identity to accompany this important move.” “On behalf of the 600-strong team at Loganair, I’m delighted that Scotland’s Airline will be taking to the skies in its own right,” says Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair’s Managing Director. “All of us are very much looking forward to providing the highest standards of safety, punctuality and customer service synonymous with the Loganair name. We hold tremendous responsibility to operate services on lifeline routes and provide connectivity for Scotland – operating more flights in Scotland than every other airline put together – and I am wholly confident that Loganair’s independence will be warmly welcomed by both our customers and our dedicated team of professional employees.”

The new Loganair Booking system is now up and running and all flights from the 1st of September onwards can be booked through the website at www.loganair.co.uk.

Any flight bookings in the interim can still be booked through www.flybe.com

1 2 3 51