Isle of Tiree

Map of Tiree's location

Part of Scotland's Inner Hebrides, the island of Tiree, 10 miles long and 4 miles wide in parts, home to less than 800 people, is a great place to get away from it all.
Located to the west of the Isle of Mull and just south of neighbouring Coll, it is one of the sunniest places in Britain thanks to its exposed location on the Atlantic Ocean. This also means that it is one of the most windy places too which is why its waves and white sandy beaches are popular with windsurfers. Every October the island hosts the Tiree Wave Classic - a world championship windsurfing event.
The Tiree Music Festival will be a huge event on 20 and 21 July 2013.
The Tiree 10K & Half Marathon are in May.

Transport

By air
Flights in light aircraft are available from Glasgow most days via Flybe.
Hebridean Air Services operates between Oban, Tiree, Coll and Colonsay.
Tiree Airport online info.

By ferry
The ferry service runs operates Monday to Saturday from Oban to Coll and Tiree. Bikes are carried for a small charge.
The official Caledonian Macbrayne website lists all the current ferry timetables in detail. Winter timetables may have few sailings. Vehicle reservation required - telephone 08705 650000. For enquiries, tel: 01475 650 100 / fax: 01475 635 235.

CalMac also operates a day cruise from Oban to Tiree in association with Kennedy Coaches and provides lunch at the Scarinish Hotel. This includes 6 hours ashore on Tiree and runs on Thusdays only from 5 June to 25 September 2014. Visit the CalMac ferry web site for details. Non-landing cruises and evening dinner cruises from Oban are also available.

Bike Hire:

  • Tiree Fitness at Sandaig - contact Will Wright (mobile: 07768 462 613 or tel: 01879 220 421)
  • Mrs Judith Boyd at Millhouse, Cornaigmore (tel: 01879 220435).
  • MacLennan Motors, Pierhead, Scarinish (tel: 01879 220555).
  • Blackhouse Bike Rental at Gott Bay (tel: 01879 220010 or mobile: 07711 807976)

Car hire:

Taxi:
John Kennedy Taxis operate a taxi service, minibus and coach hire. Tel: 01879 220419 (must be booked at least the day before you intend you use the service). Island tours available.

Argyll and Bute Council operate a Ring 'n' Ride bus service on the island with a wheelchair accessible minibus which is available on demand from 7am to 6pm Mondays to Saturdays. Telephone 01879 220419 to book the bus. Journeys can be booked up to one week in advance and as late as up to one hour before the time of travel (subject to availability).

Maps:
Produced by the Ordnance Survey at a scale of 1.25 inches to the mile (2 km to 1 cm) is the detailed map of Coll & Tiree available to purchase from Amazon UK.

Activities:

  • The 9-hole golf course at Vaul is situated 2 miles from Scarinish and half a mile from the Lodge Hotel. Telephone: 01879 220848.
  • Wild Diamond offers windsurfing, kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), surf board hire, sandyachting and a surf shop (located just south of the main crossroads in Cornaig & only 2 minutes away from Loch Bhasapol. Contact William-Angus & Kirsty MacLean. Tel: 01879 220 399 / Mob: 077121 59205.
  • Craig Sutherland (Suds) operates the Suds Surf School on Tiree. Tel: 077930 63849.
  • Tiree Fitness: personal training available to suit all ages and abilities in a fully equipped training studio with expert tuition by Will Wright BSc, DipPT, REPs Lv3 Instructor. Sports Massage and Relaxation Massage also available. Mobile: 07768 462 613 / tel: 01879 220 421.

Overnight parking & camping on Tiree
If you are taking a vehicle to Tiree or wish to go wild camping on the island, please read this leaflet (PDF).

What to see and do on Tiree

The name Tiree is familiar to many people as it is heard daily on the UK shipping forecast. Information is provided by the island's weather station which gives exact meteorological reports. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, its climate is quite mild.

In Gaelic it is known as Tir-Iodh - the land of corn. The island once had a population of almost 4500, but many crofters left during the Clearances or later, and the 2011 census recorded just under 650 people. It is quite flat with lots of farming land and has much fertile sandy soil. Few trees grow here though, due to the wind. The underlying rock, Lewisian gneiss, is thought to be 2900 million years old - half as old as the Earth itself.

The island has many beautiful empty white sandy beaches and dunes. The largest is Gott Bay which arches round for about 4km and faces east back to Mull. The machair with many varieties of wild flower displays a host of colour in the Spring and Summer. There is also much bird life on Tiree and apparently two of the best locations are Loch Bhasapoll and a cave on the coast at Kenavara.

The main township is Scarinish, where the ferry arrives. There is a supermarket, bank, post office, gift shop/cafe, garage and police station. A few miles south at Crossapol there is a general store and garage.

The Fis Thiriodh (festival of traditional music and Gaelic song & dance) is an annual event each July.

Few places on the island are more than 15 metres above sea level. The two highest points are Ben Hynish at 462 feet (141 metres) and Beinn Hough at 390 feet (119 metres). Visibility is often excellent since there are no great peaks to precipitate rain.

Despite its flat nature, the island is easy to spot from a distance because of the golf ball-shaped communications radome that can be seen for miles around. When I went on a boat cruise to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles, it was clearly visible. Sitting on top of Beinn Hynish, apparently it belongs to the Civil Aviation Authority and tracks airliners over the Atlantic.

There are several interesting archaeological remains including a 30 foot-diameter broch at Vaul Bay, with walls 12 feet thick and, in the west at Kilkenneth, the ruins of Chapel of Saint Kenneth, one of Saint Columba's followers. Four crannogs (ancient loch dwellings) have been surveyed by Mark Holley.

Another curiosity of the island lies between Vaul and Balephetrish. This mysterious boulder, known locally as 'the Ringing Stone' because of the metallic sound it makes if you hit it, features over 50 Bronze Age cup marks and probably dates back to the Ice Age.

The Hebridean Trust also looks after the Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum at the old Signal Tower at Hynish (click for details).

An Iodhlann houses Tiree's historical archives at Scarinish (tel: 01879 220793).

The Rural Centre at Crossapol has an exhibition on Crofting and the environment on Tiree (tel: 01879 220677). Monday to Saturday 9am 6pm. Tearoom, postcards, library, children's play area, Internet access.

Another place to visit is the Sandaig Island Life Museum which is a terrace of thatched buildings restored by the Hebridean Trust. Open to visitors afternoons only Monday to Friday during the summer (tel: 01879 220677). Free entry. Staffed by volunteers. You can explore the old crofter's cottage, and adjacent byre and barn to see how people used to live.

For handmade jewellery, chocolates, cards and gifts, check out Chocolates and Charms at Heylipol. Tel: 01879 220037.
The Blue Beyond Gallery at Balemartine displays paintings and pottery by resident artists.
Beachcomber at Crossapol sells crafts and clothes.

Tiree community news from An Tirisdeach, the island's fortnightly newsletter

The Cabhar Guesthouse & Restaurant at Sandaig is open at lunchtime and evening. Tel 01879 220 684.

TIREE LINKS


isleoftiree.com (Tiree's excellent community web site)
Gordon Scott's Tiree blog
The Hynish Centre
Tiree Images - great photos by Jim Murdoch
The Hebridean Trust
Photos by Gavin Shaw (including windsurfing)
An Turas - award-winning ferry shelter (photos)
Isle of Tiree Genealogy by Keith Dash.
Priseact Thiriodh - 40 years of audio recordings made on Tiree
Hebridean Island Images
Tiree web site by Elaine Williams - for details of her books and crafts, plus her online guide and photos of the whole island, with info on local activities, etc.

Accommodation

There are a variety of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs properties on the island. Here are just a few:

  • The Cabhar Guesthouse & Restaurant has 5 bedrooms. Tel 01879 220 684.
  • Kirkapol House, Gott Bay, Isle of Tiree, Argyll PA77 6TW. Converted Victorian church. Open all year. 6 rooms. Telephone/fax: 01879 220 729.
  • Scarinish Hotel. Bar, restaurant, 9 bedrooms. Tel: 01879 220308.
  • The Tiree Lodge Hotel in Gott Bay has 14 ensuite bedrooms, a bar, dining room and lounge bar. Telephone: 01879 220 329.

There are many self-catering properties on the island including:

  • Cottage to rent, sleeping 5 people (2 twin bedrooms, plus sofa bed). Just over 1 mile west of Scarinish. Contact Mrs. Jenny Todd via her web site.
  • Cottage to rent, sleeping 4-5. Contact Bob Stickland via tireecottage.co.uk.
  • Cnoc A'Mhurain offers 1 cottage sleeping 2, and a house sleeping 8. Located on the west side of the island, 1 mile from the Tiree Windsurfing Club.
  • Drovers Cottage is a traditional Hebridean thatched cottage, reputedly the oldest on Tiree. Accommodation for 2 (1 double bedroom, kitchen/living room, shower room). Contact Christian and Ann Verstraete - Tel: 0032475753846.
  • The Hynish Centre offers group accommodation for up to 32 people in 2 accommodation blocks. Tel: 01879 220 726.
  • Kilkenneth Cottages on the west side of the island. Two traditionally stone built cottages sleeping 6 and 7 people. Renovated and fully equipped. Contact: Mr & Mrs J Macdonald, 9 Colonsay, East Kilbride G74 2HE. Telephone: 01355 239473.
  • Lighthouse View at Scarinish sleeps 6 in 4 bedrooms. Scottish Tourist Board 3 stars. Available March - October. Contact Mhairi Crookston, tel: 01828 670670.
  • Machair House sleeps 8 in 4 bedrooms.
  • Millhouse Activity Centre and self-catering hostel at Cornaigmore. Bikes, fishing gear, kayaks etc can be hired, and outdoor activitites (windsurfing, sandyachting, ponytrekking) arranged. Contact Judith Boyd. Tel/Fax: 01879 220 435.
  • No. 3 Heanish is a renovated traditional style cottage about 1.3 miles from ferry terminal and 0.7 miles from Scarinish village toward Crossapoll. Well equipped with kitchen, lounge, bathroom, 2 bedrooms (sleeps 4). Contact Mr & Mrs. David Brown. Tel: 01631 565242.
  • Whitehouse is a farmhouse which can sleep 6 - 8 in 3 bedrooms. Situated overlooking Balephetrish Bay.

Caravan accommodation is also available. It is possible to camp freely on Tiree but please read this leaflet (PDF).

  • Balinoe Campsite (tel: 07712 159205 or 01879 220399).
  • Millhouse Hostel (sleeps 16/18) and Millhouse Farmhouse (sleeps 12) offer 4 star hostel accommodation - Contact Judith Boyd (tel: 01879 220435).

Further self catering listings are provided on the island's community web site.

Also visit the Argyll, the Isles, Loch Lomond, Stirling & Trossachs - Official Tourist Board web site
which includes brochure request