So far 2016 has been a marked contrast with last year.
2015 brought me lots of foreign short breaks as I used up BA airmiles which were about to expire. Helsinki, Budapest and so on.
2016 has been about the UK – and Scotland’s islands especially.
Arran once – an old friend. The rest have all been new to me. Mull, Iona, Staffa and Ulva in June. Gigha in August. Seil, Easdale and Luing in September. Eight new islands in one summer is good going!
I can’t see any more island trips coming off this year – the weather is too unpredictable by the time we get into October, plus the days are getting short.
So it’s time to plan for next year.
One jaunt on the “possibles” list is the Outer Hebrides. The ferry to Castlebay on Barra, or maybe Lochboisdale on South Uist. Then island hopping north – Benbecula, North Uist, Berneray and finally Harris and Lewis. A ferry back to the mainland from Stornoway or Tarbert.
Calmac does a series of Hopscotch tickets with one inclusive fare covering all the crossings. It would cost £169 for the car plus driver for the 4 ferries involved if I take in Barra. The Oban to Castlebay crossing is going on for 5 hours at sea. Stornoway to Ullapool on the way back is just 2.5 hours at sea, but almost 4 hours driving to get home.
Then there’s the Small Isles. Eigg (population 87). Muck (pop 30). Rùm (pop 22). Canna (pop 6). A Calmac ferry from Mallaig serves them all. No visitor cars allowed on any of them. Sounds like another world, and attractive!
Orkney or Shetland are also possibilities. I’ve visited both before, but Shetland was just a 24 hour business trip. Unfinished business there…
ⓒ iain taylor, 2016