Tiree is the catwalk model of Scottish islands: slim, blonde, gorgeous and so lacking in lumps and bumps that clouds drift over her admiringly, and burst on the mainland. White sandy beaches – draped with rock pools and seaweed – flounce around a twinkling sea. Designer crofts pout next to country roads, with roofs so groomed they look like black lids on perfectly formed loafs – baked by the sunniest place in Britain.
What We Liked
Tiree is awash with good looking beaches. The east coast shyly eyes up the mainland; the west’s aloof and windswept. Country lanes peel off paved roads to bays where seals drift into shore and birds paddle in shallows. Sultry Salum’s rock pools are great for kids. Arching Gott Bay helps novice windsurfers hone their skills, while the more experienced sail where the famed Tiree breeze takes them. Wild Diamond, in Cornaig, hires out boards.
The Hotel Bars
If you’re looking for glamour, hire a posh croft and wander along to the hotels for an evening drink, hearty meal and warm fire. For down-to-earth comfort, try the Scarinish Hotel. Only about a mile from the ferry terminal, it has a wonderful view of a sheltered beach with a shipwreck sunk in the middle of it. A small harbour protects the bay from waves, and kids can explore safely in easy view of the upstairs lounge. Alternatively, Tiree Lodge, with its friendly bar and picture perfect views of Gott Bay, is a fitting reward after a 3.5 mile walk, or short taxi ride, from the ferry terminal.
Tiree’s bars feel like they should still be filled with cigarette smoke, locals have time to chat over a dram, and you can buy the kids chocolate from behind the bar. In October, the Tiree Wave Classic brings surfer dudes north; if the wind’s low, they blow inside and the air billows with ocean tales.
Tiree claims to be very flat but with a child on the back of your bike it feels like pedalling up Mont Venoux in the Tour de France’s final stages. If you’re lucky enough not to be lugging a four year old about, or have very toned legs, it’s fabulous. The island’s small enough for kids to see beach after beach by bike. Pedal pace is perfect for admiring lone phone boxes and nosy cows. If you want to get started straight away, MacLennan Motors hires bikes from beside the ferry terminal.
Useful Things To Know
Beauty comes at a price. Croft and cottage hire is plentiful but can be expensive and it’s usually easier to book for a week than a few days. Many property owners live on the mainland so, depending on where you stay, Tiree’s local community can be trickier to find than fellow tourists. If you’re wondering where the islanders are nip into your local.
How To Get There
If you’ve time to island hop, the Oban ferry stops at Coll where kids can visit Grannie Island’s house. It also pops over to Barra once a week (see Calmac’s website for up-to-date times). In winter, boats usually sail three days a week but they’re daily in the summer. If you can manage without a car, it’s cheaper and more fun to cycle or go on foot. If you’ve not got too much gear, you can fly from Glasgow in a tiny Flybe plane.