Inner Hebrides

Port Appin Ferry

This time I am not posting about trip fiction, but a genuine guidebook – remember those things we used to use when we used to travel on holidays…

This one was first published in November (2020) and I decided to invest in it because I thought it might have some rarity value in the future – a first edition of a travel guide published at the height of the pandemic second wave.

2020

Eccentric, I know. In fact I have a couple of Lonely Planet first editions – their guides to Austria (1996) and Indonesia (1986). The guide to Austria is probably an Australian publication, which I bought in Central in Bangkok for 420 baht (€11.40 or £9.70).

Vintage

I digress.

The Inner Hebrides will be on my priority list when us Scots are allowed internal travel there again. I have visited plenty of those islands recent years, and I have very few left on the wish list – Coll, Raasay, Rum, Canna and Muck.

Raasay is a short ferry passage from Skye, and so easily accessible even if it is quite a long journey. It is 5 hours and 35 minutes away by road (and ferry, obviously) despite being a distance of just 224 miles.

Coll means a ferry from Oban – a 3 hour drive (125 miles) from home to get to the Calmac ferry, and then 2 hours 40 minutes on the ferry. Most days the ferry leaves about 7am, so an overnight stay in (or near) Oban is involved. Hebridean Air flies to the island from Oban 3 days in the week, so that creates additional possibilities.

Canna, Rum and Muck all involve taking a ferry from Mallaig, and it is 3 hours 40 minutes away by car (178 miles).

Eigg is the other one of the Small Isles and after a wonderful visit a few years ago, I would go back any time. The islanders declined to receive outside visitors last summer, to avoid the risk of importing the virus to a remote place with very little in terms of healthcare.

Rùm

Tiree is the island closest to Coll, and again I have very happy memories of my only visit. We flew there and back, and rented a car, out of deference to my ex-partner’s chronic seasickness. Although they are very close together, I believe they are very different. I am intrigued.

Hynish, Tiree

I suppose few people are much interested in Raasay, with so much on Skye to fit into their itineraries. My interest is personal. My late father was heavily involved in the legal work for the public purchase of large chunks of the island from an absentee landlord, way back in the 1970s. I would love to have a look at how it is now.

Bradt’s Inner Hebrides guide is excellent, and educated me on some points about places I have already visited. It made me wonder which of my trips to those islands is my favourite.

Eigg, with its tranquility and amazing views.

Gigha, which was great to visit with Dr D.

Calmac’s Gigha Ferry

Tiree, with its white beaches and scented machair.

Colonsay – remote and very, very quiet.

Iona. It is a truly special place.

The Slate Islands – Seil, Easdale and Luing. They are very accessible, but not much visited.

Toberonochy, Luing

Islay is the opposite to the Slate Islands, and indeed the others I have just mentioned. It is relatively large, it has a good air service from Glasgow, and a good ferry service from the Mull of Kintyre.

Then there’s Mull, Kerrera and Lismore…

ⓒ iain taylor 2021

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