The Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides – not so far away at just over 300 miles by road on the Tenere – it just feels like a long way when I include the ferry crossings! By late August last year I was tired of hearing about the brilliant summer the Western Isles were enjoying and decided to go see for myself.
My jumping off point was Oban where I was to catch the Calmac Ferry to Castlebay on the Isle of Barra and it was a ‘Drookit Don’ who turned up on the quay after battling gales and torrential rain on the 200 mile ride from my home to the port. My expensive Gore-tex lined jacket and trousers bought in the Hein Gericke closing down sale proved no match for a proper Scottish downpour!
Once again the Ten is in pole position for the ferry to the islands —
I was joined by a Huddersfield couple. They had travelled up on ‘Sunny Sunday’ and camped overnight. With a bike each they were well kitted out.
His – a Triumph Tiger in a fetching gold colour —
And hers – a BMW ST800 twin —
There weren’t many vehicles for the ferry and soon we were leaving the rain behind and heading up through the Sound of Mull —
The lighthouse is just west of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull —
Conditions got rough after we passed the Isle of Coll and there was a steady – or should I say – unsteady stream of people grabbing paper bags and staggering off to the toilets. I’m not sure why the toilets? I prefer to let it rip over the rail into the sea! but fortunately I didn’t suffer seasickness on this occasion.
The ferry had been two hours late leaving Oban due to a road closure at Tyndrum holding up a service bus and the captain had been instructed to wait for it’s arrival so it was 22.30hrs when we felt our way into Castlebay Harbour. I went in the wrong direction when I left the boat and was fortunate to find my pre-booked B&B on that dark hillside above the bay.
Next morning as I drew back the curtains about 07.00hrs this was my view from my bedroom window—
I was looking straight across the bay onto a white sand beach on the Isle of Vatersay! It had been a photograph of this same Vatersay beach that I had come across earlier in the year that triggered my ambition to visit the Isle of Barra and it’s neighbours. Technically Vatersay is no longer a seperate island as it has been joined to Barra by a causeway and it’s possible to ride over. Later in the day I did just that and there are times when the glare from the white sandy beaches can hurt your eyes —
The Isles of Barra and Vatersay by Tenere