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A trip to Rothesay

Wemyss Bay station ticket office

Thought I would squeeze in another island while the weather is still decent. Off to Rothesay we go.

Rothesay is the main town on the Isle of Bute. It is easy to get there from Glasgow by train and as a bonus, you get to go through Wemyss* Bay Station, one of the most beautiful railway stations in the UK.

(*pronounced Weems)

Wemyss Bay station

Get off the train and go down the adjoining walkway to get the ferry (operated by CalMac). The scenic crossing through the First of Clyde takes around 35 minutes.

Rothesay fountain

Bute is one of the easiest islands to visit, because it’s so accessible. Get off the ferry and you’re right in the centre of Rothesay. The Esplanade has a lovely vintage seaside feel.

Rothesay puppets

There are all kinds of shops and odd things to look at. Sadly, Zavaroni’s, home of the Top Hat (an ice cream cone with a Tunnock’s snowball squashed into it), and the Victorian toilets were both closed.

Gents Hairdresser, Rothesay

This little gem was still open – I was taking a picture of the shopfront, thinking it had long closed, when the owner came back from lunch and gave me a wee look inside. He said he’ll be closing up at the end of the year.

Wesley Snips, Rothesay

How can you compete with young guns like Wesley Snips?

After that it was time to head home again, with a beautiful view of all the Victorian villas along the shore and a plan to see more of Bute on my next visit.

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Bonus island: Luing

While we’re on the subject of islands, here’s Luing, from a visit in 2017.

Luing is one of the Slate Islands, in the same group as Easdale.

There is a small car ferry that runs from North Cuan on the mainland to South Cuan on Luing.

It is quite an unusual shape. The crossing takes about 5 minutes.

The island itself is great for walking. We walked from the ferry landing to Cullipool, the main settlement, and visited the Atlantic Islands Heritage Centre.

It was very picturesque and unspoilt – an easy way to get away from it all.

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What I did on my holidays: Part three – Lismore

Following on from What I did on my summer holidays: Part two – Kerrera

Island 3: Lismore

A white shed with a red corrugated iron roof on Lismore

Lismore is an island in the Inner Hebrides, reachable from Oban.

Church noticeboard on Lismore

It is 10 miles long (but fairly thin) and takes some time to explore.

View from Port Ramsay on Lismore

There are beautiful views everywhere.

Whitewashed houses at Port Ramsay, Lismore

And a lot of history. The Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre tells the story of the island.

The Oban Achnacroish ferry passing the old pier on Lismore

Two ferries run to Lismore. The larger car ferry operated by Caledonian MacBrayne runs from Oban to Achnacroish in the centre of the island. The journey takes around 1 hour. Booking is recommended.

The Lismore-Point Appin ferry

At the north end of the island, a smaller passenger ferry runs between Point on Lismore, and Port Appin on the mainland. The crossing takes around 10 minutes.

Achnacroish ferry slipway on Lismore

We visited on a hot, clear day and it was spectacular. I look forward to visiting again for a better look.

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What I did on my summer holidays: Part two – Kerrera

Following on from What I did on my summer holidays: Part one – Easdale

Island 2: Kerrera

Kerrera is a small island near Oban. Cars are allowed for residents only.

The Kerrera ferry runs from Gallanach, 2 miles from Oban – follow the road round from the main ferry terminal until you get to the slipway.

The MV Carvoria is the smallest ferry in Calmac’s fleet. The crossing takes around 5 minutes, carries 12 passengers, and does not usually need to be booked.

There isn’t a lot to do on Kerrera apart from walk, but the walks are scenic, and full of wildlife. I was accompanied by a while-tailed sea eagle flying along the shore.

The Kerrera Tea Garden and Bunkhouse is a good landmark to aim for (open seasonally), and there is a well-stocked farm shop up the hill from the ferry landing.

Next: What I did on my holidays: Part three – Lismore

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What I did on my summer holidays: Part one – Easdale

Oban from the ferry

They were a while ago now, but what I did on my summer holidays was go to Oban (a town on the west coast of Scotland) with the goal of getting to as many Scottish islands as possible. Getting to, and staying on the islands has been pretty challenging this year – getting to the big islands was pretty much out of the question, but there are lots of small ones that are easily reachable from Oban or nearby.

Number 1: Easdale Island

Easdale Island

Easdale is one of my favourite places on Earth. Home to the World Stone Skimming Championships, it is relatively easy to get to, and can be walked round in a day, or an afternoon depending on how much you want to see.

Easdale slate

It is one of the Slate Islands – a chain of small islands in the Inner Hebrides, and is pitted with deep pools made from disused slate quarries.

An Easdale Island wheelbarrow.

The island is car-free – residents have wheelbarrows instead.

The ferry arriving at Easdale Island

The small 10-people ferry runs regularly from Ellanabeich, which is also a pretty wee place.

Ellanabeich ferry waiting area for Easdale Island

The crossing takes about 5 minutes, and it is not possible to book it (there’s usually no need).

Buoys for sale in Ellanabeich

One trip to Easdale buoys you up for a long time…

Next: What I did on my holidays: Part two – Kerrera

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A week in Harris

Bus stop, Isle of Harris
Bus stop with a view, Isle of Harris

I’ve just spent a week on the Isle of Harris, in the Outer Hebrides. It is a very striking place, full of beautiful beaches and remote, rocky landscapes. Also home to Isle of Harris Gin, with its beautiful bottle, and Harris Tweed (of which more later).

Bunabhainneadar Tennis Court, Isle of Harris
Bunabhainneadar Tennis Court, reputed to be the most remote tennis court in the UK
Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris
Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris
Blackhouse, Arnol, Isle of Lewis
The Blackhouse, Arnol, on the neighbouring Isle of Lewis

For more Harris photos, John Maher (ex-Buzzcocks drummer) is now a photographer based there. His work features superb shots of Harris and surrounding islands. I enjoyed spotting some of the locations, like unexpected Santa.