On the way to Barra in the Outer Hebrides
After two weeks with family in the cottage on the Scottish mainland it's time to head for the ferry to Barra, but there's plenty of time after giving the cottage the white tornado treatment and loading up the Romahome to stop off at Arduain gardens on the way to Oban. It's a hidden gem tucked in by the sea, with flaming azaleas and rhododendrons, clusters of ponds with huge gunneras, and lots of winding paths lined with bluebells and geraniums. Flowery scents wafted over us as we meandered round in splendid isolation as we went in at 9.30 as the garden was opening.
Time to head for Oban, get some lunch, stock up the van and get in the queue for the Barra ferry. Takeaway fish and chips sitting overlooking the harbour was an ideal meal to share with a hungry whippet. The only part he's not keen on is mushy peas. Feeling in need of a walk after that we headed up the steep climb to McCaig's tower, the folly modelled on the coliseum in Rome, which overlooks Oban harbour, with magnificent views over to the island of Kerrera.
Now for the ferry queue and as ever the slight tension around the drive onto the ferry. It was fine and this time there was single file parking on the ferry, snaking round the central pillar. This is a five and a half hour crossing so I take Jinty up and up to the top deck, where he settles down on his blanket and sleeps as the boat sets sail.
We pass Mull, with Tobermory looking like a toy village as we sail on by and out into choppy water and go on and on and on, past some smaller islands until the Hebrides finally came into view, bathed in golden evening light. The port at Castlebay looks unlike anywhere I've seen before, with a castle on an island in the middle of the bay and a few houses spaced out at different levels round the bay. No time to stop and look as it's nearly nine o'clock and I've a campsite to find....Croft Number Two, Barra. Thankfully I had detailed directions.
All roads on Barra are single track, sometimes with sheep on them, so by the time I'd made my way to the most northerly point of the island, passing stunning white beaches and a tiny airport, it was getting on for ten o'clock. I hooked up, put the kettle on, and was greeted by the campsite owner's son with a bag of freshly baked scones which went down a treat. The skylarks were still singing as I took Jinty onto the white sand beach opposite the site for a gallop before bed. Even he thought the journey had been worth it!