I am on another weekend away. The last of the summer.
This time the destination is Barra/Barraigh. It is one of the islands in the Outer Hebrides archipelago – almost the most southerly of the inhabited ones. It is my first visit to the island.
Coming from the mainland you have a choice of how to get there. You can take a Calmac ferry service from Oban. It takes about 5 hours. Oban is 3 hours by car from where I live in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. Taking a train to Oban is also be possible, but it would take all day and involve 2 connections.
The alternative is a Loganair flight from Glasgow. 75 minutes in the air, and Glasgow Airport is about 75 minutes away by car – outside the rush hours. Loganair has 2 flights each day during the week, using 18 seat DHC6 Twin Otter planes.
I would love that ferry crossing, but for 2 nights on the island it is a lot of time in transit.
The other attraction of the Loganair option is that it is Barra. The planes use the beach for take off and landing.
My flight cost £154 return – more than my flight to Bergen last month. On the other hand, that ticket (their FullFlexPlus) includes fast track security and lounge access.
After arriving on the island the next stop was my hotel in Castlebay/Bàgh A’Chaisteil via the local bus. Castlebay is stunning, in a Western Isles kind of way.
I’d arranged to rent a bike for 2 days, so in the afternoon I cycled over to Vatersay/Bhatarsaigh. Vatersay is the island just south of Barra and the last inhabited one at the south end of the archipelago.
To my astonishment I didn’t get soaked – except with sweat. I reckon it was 5 miles (8km) each way – not that much distance but there’s an 11% gradient at one point along the way.
It was all worth it. Stunning (plus I got excellent coffee and home baked cake at the community cafe).
ⓒ iain taylor, 2018