Generally Speaking

Outer Hebrides May 2023 – 1 – Getting there

We broke the journey up twice, staying with my brother’s family near Chester for the day of the Coronation, then a night with friends near Glasgow.

Our route up from Alton to Oban

We used Tesla superchargers all the way. topping up at Keele, and the glorious Tebay services on the M6, then finally at Abington services just short of Glasgow. We could easily have managed without one of these, but we like to keep a reserve of well over 100 miles range in the battery, and it makes the stops shorter. So each charge took under an hour and fitted in well with refreshments and leg-stretching.

Bonny bonny banks

We started early on the Monday morning for the final leg to the Oban ferry terminal from Glasgow. We didn’t see much of Loch Lomond’s bonny bonny banks, or anything else for that matter, as it was raining and misty all the way, but what the hell, we were on holiday.

That stage of the journey took a little over two hours and we arrived at the terminal with two hours in hand before departure. Part of that time we spent drinking coffee, finding a paper and exchanging the vouchers provided by Hebridean Hopscotch (our excellent Lewis-based travel agent) for the tickets and boarding cards we would need for the four ferry crossings on the journey ahead.

Four ferry crossings in prospect

It had been my intention to try out the ChargePlace Scotland charger at the terminal and see if the contactless card I had been sent worked, but when the check-in man in his control box raised a barrier to let us get to it, the unit recognised my card all right and asked me to connect, but it turned out that another car was using the CCS connector that we needed.

When the owner of the car came back he showed me that there was actually an auxiliary outlet on the side of the unit that I could have used with the connector cable the Tesla carries in its frunk (i.e. front trunk), but by then, as we had almost 200 miles left in the battery from the Abington top-up, I decided to leave charging until the islands, graciously yielded my place to couple in an electric Jaguar whose need seemed more urgent (thus contributing to the camaraderie of EV drivers) and moved the car straight into the ferry queue.

I should mention that a background theme for this whole trip was to share with my wife something of the four Hebridean sailing trips out of Oban’s Dunstaffnage marina I had with medical-writing colleagues from Glasgow – in days gone by when I used to fold more neatly.

That made it a deeply nostalgic experience sailing through the Sound of Mull and out past the Ardnamurchan Point lighthouse which I once spent what seemed like most of a day battling past into the teeth of a westerly gale. People who shared that trip laugh to this day at the memory of me standing at the wheel steering into the huge seas and saying how odd it was that we were allowed to do that sort of thing when we weren’t allowed to buy more than a dozen paracetamol.

Sadly on the present occasion, the iconic profile of ‘Eigg on the starboard bow’ (as in Speed bonny boat, etc.) was completely hidden in the mist. Similarly Muck and Rhum, names to conjure with, but not, this time, sights to be shared. So Lesley and I settled down to reading, buying things from the bar and occasionally leaping up to gaze in directions people said they saw dolphins.

At least the journey was reasonably smooth and it didn’t seem long before land was in sight and we were coming into Castlebay on the Isle of Barra. Past, you may not be surprised to hear, the castle in the bay. Then it was down to the car deck, wait for the ramps to be lowered, and then out onto the jetty.

The Castlebay Hotel we were staying at overlooks the harbour and was ridiculously easy to find. So we parked in front, carried bags up the steep steps, checked in and were shown into our room, with a view from our window of the boat we had arrived on.

Continues in next post…

One thought on “Outer Hebrides May 2023 – 1 – Getting there”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: