Ignoring the rain we caught the 10.38am bus to Vatersay – the island just to the south of Barra. Despite the forecast having predicted rain all day, by the time the bus drove off the causeway connecting the two islands, the rain had stopped, and didn’t reappear until we were home and snug.
As the bus made it’s way round the island, two fellow passengers started talking about Mick MacNeil – former member (keyboard player) of the band ‘Simple Minds’. He was born on Barra, and one of those passengers claimed that his holiday home was on Vatersay. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I do know that he’s the sound engineer for the local group ‘The Vatersay Boys’, and that they’ve recorded on Vatersay, so don’t be surprised if you visit and bump into him.
The female bus driver was very friendly, told us exactly where we’d have to meet the returning bus, and where we could seek shelter if we needed it. She then dropped us opposite the Annie Jane monument that commemorates those emigrants who died when the ship transporting them to Canada was wrecked here.
With two hours and ten minutes to do a 3-4 hour walk, we set off at a determined pace, helped in parts by the gusts of wind. For a small island, there’s a lot to see on Vatersay, including 3 gorgeous white beaches. Not surprisingly, it gets much busier here in the summer, but out of season we had the place almost to ourselves.
We almost had to jog the last section or risk missing the last bus home, and then an even longer walk, but were able to flag the bus down on the road. This driver was far less friendly than this morning’s, and made me close the minibus door 7 times because he claimed I hadn’t shut it properly. After the third time, I asked him to help if he was adamant that I was doing wrong, but he refused, so I persisted, until eventually I gave him one of my looks, and he realised that he’d probably pushed me too far! He then however insisted that we had the ‘wrong’ bus tickets. To have bought the wrong tickets would have been an achievement on an island of this size, where there are only so many places you can catch a bus to. Having come to suspect by now that he might have learning difficulties however, or at least problems interacting with others, I just apologised and then kept quiet. This seemed to do the trick and his tune changed almost instantly, with him then offering to drive us round to the airport so that we could watch the plane landing on the beach at Traigh Mhòr. For the rest of the journey we talked about life on the island and travel, and he praised our decision to stay longer than one night on the island. Apparently islanders find it quite sad that tourists hop-scotch over the islands, and never really get a feel for any of the places they visit.
Unfortunately mother nature had other ideas and the flight was cancelled because of the mist, but at least we got to sample the airport cafe’s very nice coffee, and to see more of the island from the bus. Back at the Co-op we stocked up on fresh veggies from the reduced section (they don’t like fresh veggies here it seems), and walked back to the apartment to be greeted by Scooby and friend (we nicknamed him Scrappy) wanting to play catch. They’re both border collies who like to stay out in all weathers, and never missed an opportunity to play ball or cuddle. We liked them a lot, so much so that when we do eventually make time and space for fluffy creatures at home, one or more will be a border collie.