THE WAVERLEY - THE LAST OCEAN GOING PADDLE STEAMER
There is an excellent, and I thought very reasonable taxi service in Oban so I phoned for a taxi to take me down from my high eyrie directly to the pier where the Waverley was moored.
Speaking to the young lady I explained that I was up at McCaig’s Tower in a big stripey motorhome. There were several checkings of where I was and what I was in, obviously she thought there was no way anyone would get a large motorhome up to McCaig’s Tower, and speaking to one of the locals who had a motorhome himself his comment was. ‘When I saw you parked up I thought - how the hell did they get that up here!’ When the taxi driver arrived he made no comment and I half wondered if all the guys on duty generally moaned about the roads when they had to go up to the tower, and he was a bit bemused seeing a somewhat small and rather crockey lady having managed to make it to the top in something so large.
Duly delivered down to the harbour, I had been told the boarding queues would be long and advised to have a coffee in one of the cafés fronting the pier where I could keep an eye on progress and board once the queue had disappeared, which was an excellent plan.
Apparently The Waverley was built as a passenger ferry just after the war to replace the original Waverley which was lost at Dunkirk. It can hold about one thousand passengers, though there were only around four hundred on our trip. Its a surprisingly spacious ship, and very, very elegant. Lying low in the water with two brightly painted funnels set at a rakish angle the whole boat giving the impression of being able to go at speed, and it certainly cuts through the water pretty quickly.
Once on I had a really good wander round, we had all day and the idea was that we went out to Iona, where although we were too big to get close into shore a series of smaller boats would ferry those who wanted to go ashore over to the island.
As I had now seen Iona the day before I was slightly disappointed that it was to be a re-run, but was enjoying the trip on The Waverley even though the weather was disappointingly dull and grey, especially considering it was June. There was little to see of the views of any of the island we passed, and eventually an announcement came over the tannoy to say that the weather would be too rough for passengers to safely transfer from The Waverley to the lighters (is that the right word) and we would now sail past Fingal’s Cave (already ticked off my list) and onto Tobermory. Now that was more like it. I wanted to see Tobermory.
But sadly in the event another ship had docked before us, so we had to just turn round and sail back to harbour, going slowly though the rain and fog. Still the engines were great fun, and the old-fashioned feeling of the ship something which will stay in my memory.
I shall let the photos do the rest of the talking.