Category Archives: Latest Stories

Tiree Skiff

There has been a lot of interest in building a St Ayles skiff on Tiree since the subject came up last month.

Tiree Maritime Trust has therefore decided to fire the starting gun and work will start in The Noust in Scarinish in the second week in January.

After several extremely generous donations, we are on the way towards raising our target of £3,500 for the kits, wood and glues.

We would like to sell seventy £50 shares in the boat, and have already sold ten. If you are interested in buying a share of your community’s boat, please go to www.tireemaritimetrust.org.uk where in the right hand column there is a donations button. Please let me know if you do this, so I can keep a list of supporters and donors. If you are eligible for Gift Aid, you can get the form from me.

We have had a number of kind offers of help from a whole range of people. If you have some time to help build this beautiful boat between January and June, let me know. I am told chocolate cake is an important ingredient for projects like this!

An extra ingredient was added when Coll decided they would like to build one too. The race is on!

Tiree Success at Lochaber Mod

We are happy to report that Tiree was well represented at this year’s Royal National Mod, held in Lochaber.

Five local school children took part in competitions, having spent the last few months learning their pieces. Saturday saw the start of the competitions and we were delighted to hear that Emily Armstrong received a Bronze Medal in the under 13s Piano Instrumental. This is not the first-time Emily has competed in the Mod, having also received a medal at last year’s event in Stornoway – Well Done Emily.

On Monday, another two Tiree girls took to the stage, with Martha Campbell (P3) receiving a 4th in the 7-8-year-old Girls’ singing competition. Her sister Anna (P1) also performed in her singing age group and received excellent feedback from both judges.

On Tuesday the two remaining Tiree High School pupils performed with Kieran MacDonald (P6) competing in the Boys’ Singing competition. He wasn’t placed for a medal, however he received an excellent score and feedback for his performance. Lucy Kennedy (P3) was competing in the Girls’ Singing for her age group and received a Silver medal for her performance, a fantastic achievement for her first time at a National Mod!

Many congratulations to all children who took part, a very nerve-wracking experience for many. They all did exceptionally well and we hope to hear them perform on a stage closer to home in the near future.

It wasn’t just the children taking part in this year’s Mod, as local singer Ishbel Campbell took to the stage to compete in the singing competitions, with great success! Ishbel was awarded a host of prizes, picking up one of the top accolades, the Silver Pendant – a very well deserved award. She qualified for the final having already won a first and second place in the qualifying competitions. Furthermore, Ishbel was also awarded an additional three prizes, receiving the Catherine Gemmel Memorial Trophy for the female with the highest marks, The Morag Robb Memorial Salver for the highest aggregate marks in Gaelic and the John A MacRae Quaich for highest aggregate marks in Music. What a fantastic achievement and massive well done to Ishbel for winning such well-deserved awards.

A variety of other Tiree connected youngsters had successes at this year’s competitions. Kyle Rowan (Grandson of Catriona Rowan, Crossapol) received a Bronze and a Gold Medal in two different under 19 year old accordion competitions. Seona Brown (Daughter of Donald Iain and Elaine Brown, Crossapol) also received a host of different prizes within her categories, a third for singing, a second for fluent conversation, storytelling and singing and a first place for poetry recital. Very well done to both.

Both this years’ Mens’ and Ladies’ Gold Medal Winners were won by familiar Tiree faces. With Alastair Currie from Islay, receiving Gold for the Men and Rachel Walker receiving the female award. For the past few years Alastair has been the singing tutor at Feis Thiriodh (let’s hope he has been passing on his singing talent to his Tiree students) and Rachel is of course known as being part of Skipinnish.

A massive well done to all who competed and won awards at this year’s Royal National Mod, a fantastic achievement and experience for all.

Next year’s event is being held in Dunoon, let’s hope we will be reporting on further successes then.

Storm Ophelia Creates a Buzz for the 31st Tiree Wave Classic

The 31st annual Tiree Wave Classic took place last weekend and what a week they had!

The island has been buzzing since the start of October, as wind surfers from all over the world flocked to Tiree to start their preparation for the Wave Classic Competition. The event officially got going on Sunday the 15th of October, as Storm Ophelia made her way across the Atlantic, providing some of the best conditions the event has seen in recent years.

The Tiree Wave Classic is classed as one of the UK’s premier windsurfing event, with professional surfers travelling many miles to take part in the event. Tiree, with huge beaches covering the coast line, makes for the perfect destination for the sport and event.With many competitors classing it as one of their favourite competitions to compete in.

This year’s event was again organised and run by local Watersports’ company, Wild Diamond, run by William-Angus MacLean who has dedicated most of his life to the sport, creating a very successful business, getting involved with the local Wind and Watersports’ Club and now organising a world class event. William-Angus is supported by an excellent team of individuals who helped to create the 2017 event. An Talla acted as this year’s event HQ, which was a hive of activity. Elephants End Café was running throughout the week, serving a host of lovely meals, the Windswept Bar was opened for business offering home brewed ales and spirits, Tiree’s newest creation, Hebri Boards, created by David, Claire and Max Vale, were on show along with Wild Diamond merchandise and Wave Classic staff who were happy to chat about the event and what was going on throughout the week.

A variety of beaches and locations were used over the week, as is the case with Tiree, the wind direction can alter dramatically within the space of a few hours. The Maze, Balephuil, Crossapol and Gott were all used throughout the week, with the Masters, Amateurs, Men’s & Ladies Professionals and Youth competitions all taking to the waves. 22 sailors took part in the competition including several international sailors.

Kyle McGinn took first place in the Masters, Lucas Meldrum in the Amateurs and Sarah Hilder received a first in the Ladies Professionals, picking up a Tiree Wave Classic Sword. Fresh from scooping a 5th place at the World Tour, Adam Lewis received the Wave Classic Sword for the men’s professionals. Scotland’s budding Youth Windsurfers were also taking part in this years’ event, with Ruaraidh Sommerville taking the top spot this year. The RYA Scotland Youth Camp was running throughout the week, with the younger generation getting the opportunity to work on their skills and techniques.

The RYA camp was an excellent experience for the younger sailors, as they got the opportunity to meet with a variety of the Professional riders and hear about their wind surfing journey and career. Wild Diamond Staff member and summer local Tristan Levie this year competed in the Professional competition, having previously been involved in the amateurs. Tristan was placed 8th out of a fleet of 22 sailors, which is a fantastic achievement for his class, going up against some of the strongest professional competition, all in his first year!

The closing party took place on Friday night, with all winners being awarded their swords and awards and Tiree’s newest budding musicians, Sean MacCallum, Kieran and Kyle Munn took to the stage to entertain the crowds. Massive congratulations to all the competitors and winners of this year’s event and a big well done to William Angus and all involved in creating another fantastic event. Let’s hope we get the same conditions next year!

For further pictures, videos and information make sure you check out all the action on Facebook or online at www.tireewaveclassic.co.uk

Help shape future of Argyll and Bute

People in Argyll and Bute will be asked to give their views on a simple, flexible, deliverable vision for the area.

Argyll and Bute Council is preparing a new Local Development Plan (LDP2), which will set out its planning and development proposals for the next 10 years from 2020 and a vision for 20 years. We are asking people to give us their views on the proposals. They can be viewed online from 16 October to 11 December.

We will be asking people to give us their views. The consultation opens on Monday via our website and there will be drop-in sessions for the public. The public consultation, called the Main Issues Report, is the first stage of the process to develop a new Local Development Plan. This report sets out, through a series of questions, how the proposed new LDP2 might differ from the existing Local Development Plan and asks people’s views on those proposals. The results of the consultation will then be used to inform a draft LDP2 so it is important that people get involved in the process at this stage and express their views via our website or at one of our drop-in sessions.

The Main Issues Report is the first consultation document in the process of producing a new LDP2 and poses questions as to what it might contain. Policy Lead for Planning and Regulatory Services, Councillor David Kinniburgh, said:

“There are many positive developments being made across Argyll and Bute at the moment and the Local Development Plan is designed to stimulate economic and population growth. For example, we recently opened the new North Pier Pontoons at Oban which are already proving popular and bringing an economic boost to Argyll and Bute.

“The increasingly successful seafood and marine industries can be built on and over the next few years we will also see a significant employment and population boost in the Helensburgh and Lomond area with the development of HMNB Clyde as the UK’s single submarine base. In the preparation of this Local Development Plan our aim is to build on the successes already achieved to make Argyll and Bute an attractive place in which to live, work, invest and do business in.”

Some of the main ideas posed by the consultation include:

• Making the whole plan more simple, flexible and deliverable

• Identifying fewer but more deliverable potential development sites and relying on wider village and town boundaries to allow other development to come forward flexibly

• Encouraging population and economic growth in Lorn and Mull by designating a flexible growth corridor from Tobermory through Oban to Dalmally

• Exploring a solution to traffic management and parking issues within and around Oban

• Designating Helensburgh and Lomond as a flexible growth corridor, in order to deliver the opportunities for economic and population growth presented by increasing investment and activity at HMNB Clyde

• Promoting and supporting our growing economic sectors of tourism, seafood and marine-related industries, distilling, forestry and energy

• Adopting a more flexible approach to development in our non-environmentally protected countryside

• Focusing on regeneration in our main towns of Rothesay, Campbeltown, and Dunoon to help support the local economy and population growth

• Explore the possibility of a new National Park on Argyll’s west coast and its islands.

More detail on all these issues and others can be found at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/ldp2 and we welcome your views. We will use your feedback from this process to develop a draft of the replacement LDP2 during 2018 and that will then undergo further consultation at that stage.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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