Category Archives: Latest Stories

Terra Marique Visits Tiree

Crane Isle of TireeThe barge Terra Marique and tug boat Fortitude arrived at Tiree around the Friday 3rd September, carrying new parts for Tilley the Turbine after she suffered a fault back in September 2020. The upgrade meant transporting equipment and parts from Ayr on the Mainland via the sea-towed barge Terra Marique hired from Robert Wynn and Sons Ltd.

When Tilley was originally built in 2011, CalMac transported the neccessary equipment and parts to the island, but due to the strain caused by the coronavirus the facilities via CalMac were unavailble and thus the sea-going barge was hired.

The barge is built with a combined state-of-the-art technology with traditional marine and heavy transport engineering, developed to maximise the utilisation of UK and European ports, rivers and inland waterways. She has a hydraulic roadway and ballast system that will allow the vessel to offload on varying quay heights and riverbanks as well as a specially strengthened hull to allow the vessel to beach land with minimal need for site preparation. The barge could have been offloaded on the beach closer to Tilley but would have damaged the Machair.

The size of the equipment and parts for Tilley meant that parts of the pier had to be removed such as lamposts, signs and part of the crash barrier to carry it safely up the pier. Thanks to the delivery of the parts, Tilley is on track to recovery.

Thanks to Alan Miller from Life On Tiree for the photos

Bird Hides Revamp

Bird Hide, Isle of Tiree

The public wildlife-viewing hides at Loch a’ Phuill and Loch Bhasapol were both installed as part of Nadairfunded community projects and are now over 13 and 18 years old respectively.

Constantly exposed to Tiree’s weather, they were both in need of a bit of TLC this summer. Much of the woodwork around the windows on the Loch a’ Phuill hide was rotten, and the roof was leaking, whilst the door handles on the Loch Bhasapol hide had rusted off completely, preventing entry! Coupled with broken slat hinges and swollen doors, there was a lot of work to be done.

New materials were obtained using monies donated to the Tiree Community Development Trust from last September’s Yellowbellied Flycatcher twitch and sterling repair work was conducted in July and August by volunteer David Clark, who gave his expert DIY time for free. A pair of Swallows had set up a nest in the Loch Bhasapol hide, as one of the window slats had fallen of, so the work had to be conducted around them and the window kept open to allow the fledglings to be fed and to leave the hide successfully (which they did).

There is still some work to be done to replace some rotting arm-rests in the Loch a’ Phuill hide, once we can get hold of some marine plywood, but both of the hides are now dry, in much better shape and are accessible to all once more. They are both well worth a look, with the bird autumn migration period just around the corner.

Many thanks are due to Tiree Community Development Trust and to David Clark for enabling this work to happen.

Summer Holidays Swim

A chance encounter around a birthday barbeque at Hynish, a chat about achieving seemingly impossible things and 3 days later I was swimming from Tiree to Coll with someone I’d only just met.

Such is Tiree and the friends and people you meet. The next few days were spent planning. I thought I would be able to swim the distance but the sea can be very unforgiving around these islands. People have waited days if not weeks to swim across only for conditions not to be favourable. The water is cold and Tiree is often very windy and the currents can be strong.

We needed to know the tides, the swell and the direction of current and through various Apps and social media realised we might have a chance of making the 2 miles or so. The swell was set to drop later in the week which would help. We needed a support team and a helpful kayaker and the owner of a RIB volunteered; after all we had to return somehow and swimming back would not be an option!

I was staying in the Wee Cottage at Caolas at the eastern end of Tiree and so could check out potential starting points for the swim. The green lateral buoy in the Gunna Sound might be a useful navigation point. The tide and current suggested Tiree to Coll might be easier and we would be closer to a shore towards the end of the swim, but the predicted prevailing wind might cause some difficulty. Wednesday before high tide looked promising but the current direction meant we might still be in the water around the time of the weekly Barra to Tiree ferry, a definite no-go!

As it turned out fog was also a problem on Wednesday which might be a worry for our next opportunity before low tide the following day. However on the day, the Tiree weather did not disappoint: no fog, light winds and glorious sunshine. A trip to the Co-op for some Vaseline, a borrowed swim float, my wet suit, goggles, a swim cap and my new experienced swim buddy and we were ready, sun tan lotion already applied.

Our kayaker had been joined by a double kayak team but our RIB support was nowhere to be seen. It turns out the tides had left the RIB high and dry in Scarinish harbour and some effort was required to refloat the boat. With the team finally assembled and a last check on the various Apps and a visual of the sea conditions, we set off from the north end of the beach at Caolas in the lee of some skerries immediately offshore. Perhaps subconsciously drawn or perhaps pushed by the current we headed closer to the green lateral buoy and the western end of Gunna than expected which was fine from the prevailing northerly wind. However it meant that we were swimming against the current as we turned to swim along the southern shore of Gunna towards Coll. There was a moment when, despite being in the lee of Gunna, the wind picked up and current pushed against us and the seaweed was clearly trailing in the opposite direction from where we wanted to go. With help from the support kayaker we were able to find an easier route and be reassured that the conditions were better further ahead. We were also joined by some curious seals whose dark shapes would occasionally loom into view underwater making it obvious who had really mastered open water swimming.

Fortunately, despite seeing several jellyfish, we did not come across any Lion’s mane jellyfish but it was too early this year to see any basking sharks and thankfully the pod of Orcas I subsequently heard about on the ferry home from Tiree were not in the area at the time of our swim.

The owner of Gunna was out in a dinghy and our kayak support team spent some time chatting with him which made negotiating the various skerries towards the south eastern tip of Gunna more of a challenge for us and the RIB. Suddenly we could distinguish between the sandy beaches of Gunna and those on Coll. After almost one and a half hours in the water we could see the finish and realised we had an excellent chance of making the passage.

As we approached the straight between Gunna and Coll we could feel the current pulling us northward and we had to re-calculate our landing point on Coll. At one point the water was so shallow we thought we might be able to walk across but the sand bank rapidly fell away much to the relief of the RIB skipper. We came ashore at the underwater cable markers on Coll 4.141kilometres and 1 hour 54 minutes from our starting point. What an amazing feeling, I had completed my first island to island swim adventure. The return to Tiree and friends and family was certainly quicker and easier.

Thank you to Alastair the Kayaker, Neil the RIB skipper and Meg my experienced swim buddy. Checklist: Wetsuit, goggles and cap. Swim float. Suncream. Currents, tides, wind and weather check. Experienced swim buddy Support team.

~Alex Jones

TMF Transmitting Live to bring a taste of Tiree to people’s homes this summer

The team behind Tiree Music Festival has announced a new digital event for 2021. TMF Transmitting Live will showcase brilliant musical performances from the likes of Skerryvore and Trail West on Saturday 10th July via a special livestream from the beautiful Inner Hebridean island, with tickets on sale now.

The event will bring people a taste of Tiree for summer 2021 – with a combination of brilliant music, great craic and picture perfect white sands from the ‘Hawaii of the North’ – ahead of the much-awaited return of Tiree Music Festival in 2022.

Fans can tune in from the comfort and safety of their living room to watch performances from award-winning favourites Skerryvore, Western Isle natives Trail West and Irish bluegrass group We Banjo 3, as part of the activity supported by EventScotland’s Events Recovery Fund. Special acoustic sessions from Scottish pop duo The Eves and Glasgow-based traditional trio Atlantic Reel hosted at Tiree Whisky Company’s distillery – the first distillery on the island in over 217 years – will also be transmitted around the world.

Tickets, which also give fans access to exclusive merchandise and content, will operate on a ‘pay what you want’ basis, with no fixed cost per view. Viewers will have the chance to get to know TMF’s close-knit community, with exclusive interviews from members of the community, the small army of international volunteers and others that come together every year to make the special island event possible.

TMF Transmitting Live will also include an exclusive commissioned collaboration with aerial drone specialists Crashing Drones synced to the music of SKIPINNISH. The action was captured during a recent visit to the island by frontman Norrie MacIver who was performing the first live music on Tiree for over 12 months to local children involved in Tiree Fèis.

Daniel Gillespie, Artistic Director for Tiree Music Festival, said: “We can’t wait to bring our loyal audiences in Scotland and around the world a taste of Tiree this July with the first ever TMF Transmitting. “Although it’s not quite the same as being at the festival in person, we’ve got a brilliant line-up of acts, unbeatable scenery and that warm, friendly TMF vibe to share with everyone who are missing the festival, or who might not ever have had the chance to attend yet.

“Tiree Whisky Company’s distillery is a perfect and totally unique setting for some of our acoustic sessions and we’re also grateful to EventScotland for their support – it will be a livestream to remember. We hope to see people gather with friends and family from the safety of their living room, garden – or wherever they can set up a screen – as we share the magic of this remote Hebridean island festival ahead of its return to the island next year. We can’t wait!”

Ian Smith, owner of Tiree Whisky Company, said: “TMF is such a massive part of the island’s social calendar. Although the full event can’t go ahead this year, we’re delighted to welcome some brilliant acts to the distillery, showcasing the island’s fantastic musical talents and some of the names the festival attracts to Tiree. “The location of our distillery on the southwestern tip of the island is fairly remote so some TMFers may not have not made it down to us in previous years. TMF Transmitting is a great opportunity to show off another fantastic spot on the island – and what better way to do that than with some brilliant music and a dram!”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “I am delighted to see another event, supported through Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund, make the ambitious move to a virtual offering, presenting some fantastic Scottish talent against the stunning backdrop of Tiree.”

Remaining tickets for next year’s highly anticipated Tiree Music Festival, taking place 8th-10th July 2022, will be on sale in the coming months. Tickets for TMF Transmitting Live are on sale now at:

https:// tireemusicfestival.co.uk/transmitting/.

New Sailing Programme Launches

A new campaign, Our Isles and Oceans, has launched in Scotland today which will create funded programmes for young people affected by the pandemic and lockdown.

The Our Isles and Oceans mission statement is ‘Youth Opportunity and Professional Development for Sustainable Livelihoods’ and intends on, through the vehicle of sport and business, highlighting the importance of a sustainable future for the next generation through activities and partnerships with sustainable organisations and enterprises.

The cornerstone of the project will be a partnership with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Through this partnership, Our Isles and Oceans and the Clipper Race will be providing funded sailing programmes for young people to learn to sail on the West Coast of Scotland. Our Isles and Oceans is calling for 18- to 35-year-olds to apply to its initiative, as the pandemic has had a negative impact on the age group’s education and employment opportunities over the last 15 months.

The charity Young Minds ran surveys* earlier this year and found that 67% of young people believe that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health. Our Isles and Oceans aims to provide positive experiences for these young people. This new project will create social benefits and business growth in the UK, develop enriching participatory events, and spread positivity and inclusion throughout the British Isles.

Through the programmes, businesses will work with young people to provide opportunities for professional development and will focus on building confidence and promoting sustainable livelihoods. This will be a training atmosphere where individuals will gain life experiences and will be fun, exciting and unique. The Clipper Race is the only event of its kind which offers everyday people the opportunity to train to become ocean racing sailors. The confidence built and the skills learnt through the sport of sailing can be transferred from on deck to the workplace which is why the first Our Isles and Oceans programme to launch will take place on a Clipper Race yacht.

This summer, along the West Coast of Scotland, up to 50 successful candidates will take part in a funded sailing course on board an Our Isles and Oceans branded (68 ft) Clipper Race training yacht. Under the guidance of a Clipper Race Training Skipper, each group of recruits will be challenged to learn new practical skills, develop their selfbelief and work as a team. In addition, 10 of these recruits will then be offered the opportunity to apply for an additional four weeks of intensive ocean racing training to be held at the Clipper Race Training HQ in Gosport, Hampshire. If successful, they would receive a funded place on board the (70 ft) Our Isles and Oceans team entry which will be competing in the Clipper 2023-24 Race.

Each recruit would complete one leg of the Clipper Race circumnavigation. Taking part in this endurance challenge would see them face oceans such as the North Pacific, North or South Atlantic and Southern Ocean, carrying the message of Our Isles and Oceans from a national to a global stage. The Our Isles and Oceans team will compete alongside other organisations and cities and will visit notable ports across the world.

With young people being particularly impacted this past year, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, record-breaking sailor and cofounder of the Clipper Race, hopes this new programme will make a positive change in the successful candidates’ lives. “Sailing is so much more than just a sport or pastime as it gives you experience that is as useful in the workplace as it is on board a yacht. The sport develops self confidence and self-esteem which is so important to restore following the pandemic. “Everything you do on board a sailing boat is practical and I feel practical skills have somewhat been lost over the years. Knot tying is one of the obvious skills that will be learnt but the crew will also start to understand the weather, the enormity of the sea and how to cope with them both. “Problem solving is key to sail training, as is leadership and teamwork. You’ll often find young people are judged too early. Putting them on a yacht, with a team, is a great equaliser. You’ll see things are picked up quickly and as each challenge is overcome, confidence grows, with a new belief in themselves that they can achieve anything.”

Recruitment for the Our Isles and Oceans campaign opens today. Applicants aged 18-35 can apply through www.ourislesandoceans.co.uk. The focus of recruitment will not be based on past job or work experience but will instead be based on an applicant’s ambition to take part in this special programme.

The campaign is looking to assist people who may think opportunities such as these are out of their reach. Our Isles and Oceans Founder, David Stewart Howitt, explains: “In these challenging times, Our Isles and Oceans seeks to bring together the powerful forces of business and sport to offer an inspiring opportunity for the youth of today. “Our Isles and Oceans will offer applicants the chance to learn from experienced professionals and to push themselves outside their comfort zone to equip them for the challenges of today’s marketplace. “Outwardly focused and with a relentlessly positive approach, we at Our Isles and Oceans believe that there is opportunity for all given the right chance. We also want to bring awareness to the plight of the oceans and to promote the importance of sustainable livelihoods.”

The Our Isles and Oceans campaign begins with the first series of sailing programmes in July 2021. Applications are now being accepted through the website at www.ourislesandoceans.co.uk

Follow Our Isles and Oceans at:

www.facebook.com/ ourislesandoceans

www.instagram.com/ ourislesandoceans

www.twitter.com/OurIslesOceans

www.tiktok.com/ @ourislesandoceans

www.linkedin.com/company/ourisles- and-oceans

Livestock Worrying

Even the most loving, obedient family pet can worry livestock – Please keep your dog(s) on a lead when in the countryside.

Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, if a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land, the owner of the dog, and anyone who is in charge of the dog other than its owner, shall be guilty of an offence. You can be prosecuted with 12 months imprisonment, fined up to £40,000 and ordered to pay compensation under the new amendment.

Worrying livestock includes; attacking, chasing livestock (whether or not actual contact is made) in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce, or the dog being at large, in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.

Livestock includes: all farming animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and poultry. Do you #KnowTheCodeBeforeYouGo when enjoying the countryside? View the Scottish Outdoor Access Code here: http://ow.ly/qf4q30rGCQP

If you observe a livestock worrying incident:

• Notify Police

• Notify the nearest farm/ smallholding – urgent vet assitance may be required to prevent further suffering to the injured animal

• Identify any dog owner/vehicles involved.

• If your dog has worried livestock, it is placed on the lead immediately & notify Police

• If your dog is missing, report to the Police.

PLEASE NOTE: A landowner is permitted to shoot your dog if it can be proved that the action was necessary to protect livestock.

Have you Heard a Crex Crex

Corncrakes have been arriving since the 8th of April and their rasping calls are starting to be reported across the Hebrides, Western Isles, Orkney & North Scotland.

This noisy visitor migrates every year from central Africa and spends the summer raising chicks in the long vegetation around our crofts and farms. Unfortunately, corncrakes have suffered serious declines throughout the UK and the fortunes of this noisy bird remains precarious. On Tiree numbers remain strong but the number of calling males dipped below 300 last year, something that has not happened for over 16 years.

With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, RSPB Scotland is working with farmers, crofters & communities continuing to help improve the breeding success of this rare bird. At the end of the 19th century, corncrakes bred in every region of the UK and tales of sleepless nights from the loud ‘crex crex’ were common. RSPB Scotland would love to know if this bird is causing sleep deprivation in your area! And with the launch of a new website for the project ‘Corncrake Calling’ RSPB Scotland are asking members of the public if they have seen or heard a corncrake. Reports can be submitted online here

https:// www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/ conservation/projects/corncrakecalling/ report-a corncrake/ and will help monitor the locations of the birds particularly in areas where we least expect them.

If you would like to get involved in the project, managing habitat, reporting corncrake calling or signing up as a Corncrake Champion, you can go to the website https:// www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/ conservation/projects/corncrakecalling/ or email CorncrakeCalling@rspb.org. uk

Doing the return to school differently in Argyll and Bute

Argyll and Bute Council has taken an innovative approach to ensure that young people feel safe, secure and resilient as they settle back into school-life after lockdown.

With pupils having spent a lot of time away from friends in recent months, and many no doubt feeling anxious, the council teamed up with Scout Adventures Lochgoilhead and Ardroy and Benmore Outdoor Education Centres, to develop an itinerary of outdoor learning activities for children and young people across Argyll and Bute, focussing on positive health and wellbeing.

Scout Adventures Lochgoilhead, were asked to deliver activities for the council’s school hubs during last summer’s lockdown. Due to the number of schools involved, the company enlisted the help of Ardroy and Benmore Outdoor Education Centres too, and together they put on a number of hugely popular outdoor activities. Because of this success, the trio are working with the council once again to deliver further outdoor learning for all Argyll and Bute pupils, from now until the summer break.

The Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “The last 12 months have been a challenging time for everyone, not least our children and young people. “We know how important outdoor learning is in education, and we have no shortage of stunning natural resources around us, so I’m delighted that we’re working in partnership with these local centres again to provide pupils with amazing experiences. “It is vital to us that activities are flexible and focus on delivering what our pupils need. For some schools this means orienteering in the playground, for others it means being able to go mountain biking or hillwalking. It is also really important that every school has the chance to benefit from these type of activities, regardless of their location. Argyll and Bute has a diverse geographic landscape so it’s vital that all our children have the same opportunities, whether they live on the mainland or one of our islands.

“Outdoor learning has many, many benefits. It helps physical and mental health, enables young people to connect with the world around them and encourages independence; all things that are equally important as we enter into this recovery phase. I look forward to hearing about some of the exciting adventures our young people get up to.”

Judith McCleary, Head of Outdoors and Adventure at Scout Adventures Scotland, said: “The evidence for outdoor learning is long established; it builds confidence and helps with mental health and wellbeing. The stories we have heard from pupils, teachers and the instructors have really brought this evidence to life. One young person had never walked up a mountain before, which is quite unusual in a place like Argyll and Bute, but all his peers gave him a guard of honour when he reached the summit and the cheers could be heard from afar. “Allowing young people to connect with nature gives them the chance to flourish in a way they have never been able to before. We are so glad that we have been able to help deliver this programme. The last year has been extremely hard but, through these outdoor experiences, we are helping young people to recover and assisting Argyll and Bute Council in putting the wellbeing of pupils at the heart of their return to school.”

On The Water Again

Tiree Maritime Trust

Tiree Maritime Trust look forward to being able to offer opportunities for sailing and rowing this season once covid regulations allow.

Activities will take place on Loch Bhassapol from later this month.

Existing members are encouraged to renew Tiree Maritime Trust membership and can use PayPal to make payments. Membership renewal invitations will be emailed out shortly. This years membership price is £40 for the year with a suggested voluntary extra £20 for those that can afford to contribute a bit more.

For families the trust offers a special rate where for the price of 2 adults the whole family can take part. Membership helps us to cover essential running costs and overheads. Membership to the Maritime Trust can give members access to sailing dinghies and Gille-Brìghde, the rowing skiff as well as safety equipment required for activities and covers costs of insurance. New members and beginners are encouraged to contact info@tireemaritimetrust.org.uk for more info on how to become a member.

Membership also supports efforts to encourage the preservation of the traditional boats of Tiree. Tiree Maritime Trust are pleased to have received funding from Live Argyll to help with ongoing maintenance of the lug sail boats this year. If anybody is interested in learning about and helping with this work we would like to invite you to contact us by email at info@tireemartimetrust.org.uk.

Also… if you use Amazon you can support Tiree Maritime Trust every time you shop by adding us as your chosen charity. Visit smile.amazon.co.uk and search for Tiree Maritime Trust to get started. Thanks!

Council Welcomes Fuel Poverty Funding

Argyll and Bute Council has received an additional £2.3 million from the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficient Scotland: Area Based Scheme Programme to help reduce fuel poverty in the area.

The grant will be used by Argyll Community Housing Association (ACHA), in partnership with Argyll and Bute Council and SSE Energy Solutions to install external wall insulation to mixed tenure blocks of flats across Oban, Bute and Cowal. Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, Councillor Robin Currie, said: “This is fantastic news for the area. This funding will have a long-lasting impact on many, many people’s lives, reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions, and allowing residents to live more comfortably.

“Over 300 homes in the Oban area have already benefitted from insulation as a result of the Scottish Government’s last round of funding. Again, this was a partnership with ACHA and resulted in improvements to 138 ACHA homes and 164 privately owned properties. “Proper insulation is a great way to reduce carbon emissions, save money on heating bills and do your bit for the environment. We are 100% committed to creating a climate friendly Argyll and Bute and positive steps like this are enabling us to do that.”

Welcoming the news, Alastair MacGregor, Chief Executive of Argyll Community Housing Association, said: “We are delighted to receive the news that £2.3 million in grant from the Scottish Government will come through the Council to continue our work in energy efficiency through external wall insulation. “This grant will go alongside £3 million of ACHA resources to improve the homes of around 500 tenants and owners in Oban, Bute, Dunoon and the Cowal villages. ACHA appreciate the ongoing partnership working of the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council in tackling fuel poverty head on.”

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