If you seek tranquillity, freedom of space and clean pure air, the Isle of Tiree has it all. Though only 12 miles long and 3 miles wide, the sky and sea stretch from horizon to horizon. With no woodland and only three sizeable hills on an otherwise flat landscape, there is nothing to obscure the view. And the only sounds you are likely to hear are the waves lapping on the vast expanses of white sand beaches and a myriad of birdcalls.
The island is one of the sunniest places in Britain, and with the moderating influence of the warm Gulf Stream, winter temperatures are generally higher than on the mainland, while summer evenings are warm and balmy. Tiree is also known as a windy place, with the strongest winter gales normally occurring in December and January. The advantage, however, is that midges are almost non-existent in summer.
In 1883, George, eighth Duke of Argyll wrote that the climate was:
"far better than that of the mainland. There is much less rain, the rainfall scarcely exceeding the average of from 35 to 40 inches. I fully expect that far on in summers I shall not see, the island of Tiree will be a great resort of health. Its strong yet soft sea-air, its comparative dryness, its fragrant turf full of wild thyme and clover, its miles of pure white sandy bays equally pleasant for riding, driving, or walking, or for sea-bathing, and last not least, its unrivalled expanses for the game of golf, all combine to render it most attractive and wholesome in the summer months. My own tastes would lead me to add, as a special recommendation, its wealth of sky ringing with the song of skylarks, which are extraordinarily abundant."
More recently the island was described by Helen Story in her article ETHICA as:
''an enchanted island. The sea rolls on in miles and miles of sandy bays with opalescent reflections in its pools and shallows. And when the sun drops towards the west a gorgeous transformation scene takes place, with a light that never was on sea or land. The sky changes to orange, gold, rose, the clouds above are crimson in the setting sun, while to the east the hills of Mull stand out amethyst against a background of pale primrose, their hollows just touched with the gleam of gold. Rhum and Skye seem towering to heaven, and in the far south Jura, and in the far north Uist, lie soft like pale blue pearls.''
There is something of fascination for all visitors, young and old. The beautiful beaches provide miles of potential sandcastles, gently sloping paddling pools, and windsurfing for the more adventurous. Tiree's history and architecture capture the imagination revealing bygone ages, and the abundance of birds and other wildlife will keep naturalists engrossed for many an hour. And if all you want to do is walk and walk and walk.
Although the charms of Tiree have remained a well-kept secret, the island is not difficult to get to. There are frequent flights operated by Flybe from Glasgow and Hebridean Air Service from Oban, and Caledonian MacBrayne runs regular ferries from Oban. The island's residents provide a wide variety of very comfortable accommodation, and there is always a warm welcome.