BARRA AND BARRA AIRPORT
It was a grey and dreary crossing, but at least it didn't rain on us, and it seemed to brighten a bit as we landed. There is always a bit of a mellee as the ferry empties, especially where the roads are single track. And although I hung back a bit I seemed to be surrounded with the vehicles which had sailed with us, so I thought I would head on up to Barra Airport imagining there would be plenty of space at an airport to park up and turn round if necessary
As it turned out I was very wrong on that score, the main carpark was for use of airport customers, which was to be expected, but it was in fact, the only carpark. The single track road was tight for Thebus, and the one turning space already had a taxi parked in it. A small layby was marked for 'Staff Parking' only though a few cars and smaller motorhomes and campervans had pulled up onto a grassy sand bank next to it.
The reason for the interest, for both myself and those already stopped is that Barra Airport is the world's only commercial airport running scheduled flights with a beach as the runway. So having reached the airport at what I assumed from the waiting taxi was an imminent landing I just had to drive on by and miss it all, as I had no hope of either stopping or turning.
I wasn't even sure if the road I was on actually went anywhere, or what the turning possibilities might be at the far end. But there was simply no choice but to go forwards. After a while we reached a school with space for me to manoeuvre,but just at that moment one of the other motorhomers who had shared our crossing, and whom I had nattered with about their lovely dog appeared in the rear view mirror so I flagged them down, as I had spotted them with a large map. I am still using mainly the little tourist guide ones, which is fine when there is internet access to check things out, but less than adequate otherwise. And as I hadn't expected to be on Barra so soon I had a clue where I was going.
They seemed to think that the road went on round the coast so that reassured me a bit. In the event it ended in a tightish hammerhead, but at least there was turning space. On my way up I passed a couple of campsites and half thought to stay in one, but basically they were just small slopey grass fields, and if the weather turned and it rained I feared that Thebus would just get stuck.
On the way back a lot of the traffic round the airport had cleared, though there was still no room for Thebus to squeeze in, but the plane which must have landed whilst I was up the lane was now preparing for take off. So hoping that no-one would pull up behind me, and keeping the engine running just in case I stopped in the middle of the road and managed to get some quick photos
All along the beach road were warning signs about using the beach when a flight is expected as the beach is popular with both tourists and cockle pickers who are asked to observe the windsock - the airport has three runways in a triangle on the beach so the planes can always land into a head wind. The airport is unique, being the only one in the world where scheduled flights use a beach as the runway, and is operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, and opened in 1936.
Having seen as much of the airport as we were likely to be able to we then mooched on down the western coast and seeing a largish layby just pulled in as by then it was late afternoon, and what a lovely night we had there parked up looking out over a beautiful wide bay. I dreamt of the sweet smell of flowers all night long, and on looking around next morning found there were drifts of wild flowers on the banks beneath us running down to the rocky foreshore.
And this was the view next morning
I do so love the sound of the waves and we were lucky with the sun as well. Phoebe would have liked to lie out, though she wouldn't have been safe, but we had the door open to the sea and both sat in Thebus enjoying the sunshine till gone midday.