The Charm of Island Life

This is not the easiest year for the average tourist to come to Islay, first a volcano in Iceland decided to disrupt after being dormant for god knows how long. This resulted in the first series of disruptions for Islay and cancelled flights. Soon after that the Argyll and Bute council decided to spend more money on the roads, a very noble and necessary cause indeed, but that led to road disruptions in the months of May and June. After that most people thought it would be business as usual but that turned out to be a big mistake. Not long after the roads received a nice layer of tarmac, cutting travel time from Glasgow by minutes, one of the ferries in the Western Isles, the MV Clansman, decided to break down. As a result of that the Islay ferry Hebridean Isles was sent out to save the Western Isles from a total economic disaster leaving only one ferry to service the Islay route causing... well a wee bit of an economic disaster for some businesses on Islay.

The Hebridean Isles Ferry docking in Port Askaig

Where Calmac initially thought that it would last a couple of days to repair the MV Clansman, it turned out that the replacement of a crankshaft needed the engine to be lifted from the engine room and in the end it took Calmac 6 weeks to repair the MV Clansman. Last weekend the situation in the west of Scotland, and on the Islay ferry route, was back to normal, although the Clansman ferry decided to scare the festival people on Barra in the Western Isles once more and left for Oban empty on Sunday night, leaving hundreds of people stranded. So again one might think business is back to usual right now but no sir. Scotland TranServ didn't finish the resurfacing of the A83 in May and June, so there will be more night-time closures and daytime convoy working when the A83 will be repaired and resurfaced on two sections in the months of August and September. Continue reading....

The first section involved is Arrochar to Tarbet where works will be carried out on Monday 9 to Thursday 12 August – overnight closures (9pm to 6am), Sunday 15 to Monday 16 August – overnight closure (9pm to 6am) and Monday 6 to Friday 10 September – daytime working with single lane closure and convoy working. The second section involved is Lochgilphead to Tarbert work at Meall Dubh from Tuesday 17 August to Wednesday 1 September – overnight closures (9pm to 6am). The scheme will start 1.5 miles south of Inverneill, and stretch for 0.8 miles to the south. The diversion route is the B8024 Kilberry road. HGVs will be escorted through the works when it is safe to do so, due to the lack of a suitable diversion route.

So again visitors and locals travelling to and from Islay will be faced with possible delays or closures. Ben Mundell of B. Mundell haulage company, which has depots in Glasgow, Islay and Tarbert, said in the Press and Journal: “It is an inconvenience. The Arrochar one is going to impact our Co-op deliveries. The Lochgilphead one is not so bad because we have had quite a number of works on that road in the past and they let the lorries through. Islay-based Councillor Robin Currie said: “Islay Show is on August 12. There are going to be a lot of tourists coming along who will be caught up in it. “This is going to affect the morning traffic and groceries coming to Islay. The ferry leaves and 7am. You need to be passing through Arrochar at 5am. “August is certainly the busiest month on the island tourist-wise. It is going to be a big inconvenience if people have to go via Dalmally. The last thing we want is another hurdle for tourists to get to and from Islay.”

It's always easy to complain about Calmac, the government and others who are responsible for the maintenance and operation of roads, ferries and planes but let's face it, I think experiencing delays, disruptions or having cancelled ferries and planes are part of island life, although I realize all too well that the effects of these disruptions can really harm the economy. But being an island is one of the reasons why we come to Islay in the first place, because the island managed to keep its unique character just because it is remote and sometimes an impossible place to reach. So we complain a bit but take the disruptions and delays for granted and enjoy this beautiful jewel in the Southern Hebrides called Islay. But you can't say I didn't tell you about possible disruptions.....

Tag: ferry plane travel roads disruptions