Sunday 14 October 2012--The ferry leaves for Tiree at noon, so there is time this morning to have a stroll around Arinagour. The village reminds
me of Castlebay on Barra, although I'd be hard pressed to say exactly why. Maybe it's just that those two present more coherent villages than Scalasaig on
Colonsay, the one other Hebridean isle of similar size that I've visited.
On the sail, there are nice views of Breachacha and Crossapol. The tail end of Coll passes, and Tiree, just a couple of miles across the gap, takes my attention. The most notable thing about it is its flatness. There is much more arable land than on rocky Coll, and consequently about four times the population--something short of 800. As the ferry approaches the terminal at Scarinish, we pass by the broad crescent of Gott Bay, dotted with windsurfers. The Tiree Lodge, one of the island's two hotels, stands just across the road from the beach. My research indicated that this would be the better option for dining and drinking, although neither pub serves real ale. I'd scouted a B&B within walking distance, but it's already closed for the season. Likewise the Cèabhar Guesthouse & Restaurant, the best-regarded place to eat in Tiree, at the far end of the island. So it goes, sometimes, in October.
My second choice B&B is over on the west side of the island. It's very nice--a cut or two above my usual picks, and twice as expensive. I check in, and set out to see a thing or two. Drive to Vaul, and walk a short distance to see Dùn Mòr, a broch with a view northwest toward Barra, across the Sea of the Hebrides. According to a nearby information panel, the fellow who excavated it had some unusual ideas about who built it, and why--he figured they were English incomers who ruled over the locals. There is no one to say he was wrong.
I park back at the Tiree Lodge and go have a look at the ruined chapels nearby, 14th- and 13th-century. Then I go into the Lodge for a pint. The public bar is okay, I guess...it just seems a bit rough compared to the Coll Hotel. Finish my pint and drive over to the Scarinish Hotel, figuring I should decide which of the island's two hostelries is worth hanging out at. The public bar here is dire--gray, grim, and threadbare. Doesn't help that I'm the only one in at the moment. I have dinner in the dining room, and it's okay, but I guess I've seen enough of the place.