Isle of Shuna, Scotland

For the first time in about twenty years, I went to Scotland. But this was not a normal trip. It was a holiday on the Isle of Shuna — a place even Google Maps struggles to identify. This is the OS map:

We had booked to take the overnight sleeper train from London Euston to Glasgow. This was re-routed to Edinburgh a couple of days before departure. We were bumped up to first class but the cabin was uncomfortable. There was no chance of swinging a cat, should you have felt inclined and had one handy.

We had a couple of early hours in Edinburgh before getting another train to Oban, where we were picked up by a friend to drive to the pick-up point. There, a small boat picked up the island visitors for the week.

Before getting onto the boat, you had to make sure that you had brought enough food to last you the time you’re on the island. Once you’re on the island, there’s no way off until your visit ends. Technically you could use the boats made available to guests to drive to shore but you had to be an experienced sailor.

Shuna is inhabited by Rob, Kathryn, their daughter and two dogs. They manage the island. One of the few articles on the internet about Shuna is this one.

There are four guest cottages on the island. Although the island is small (about three miles in length), you’re not likely to bump into any of the other guests.

After unpacking, we all congregated at the pier for induction and shown how to operate one of their ex-military boats (there was one for each group).

The weather being good, we decided to take the boat out in the afternoon. None of us had driven a boat before and we struggled to get it out of the pier, partly because it was blocked by another boat but also because the water was shallow. Another guest, more experienced in these matters, saw us from his cottage and helped out. We gingerly left the pier and did a lap of the island. It’s mostly easy but at the southern end you had to keep at least ten metres from the island because the water became shallow. There are also some floating fisheries you need to go around. Our friend Cath and I took turns to steer the boat whilst Helene has happy to be a passenger. Despite being, for some, an ordinary thing to do, we found it exhilarating.

Docking was another matter. We struggled. We had to make sure the motor didn’t touch the bottom. Eventually, we docked onto the pier. Later, Rob told us of someone who got too close to the shore whilst docking and caused £1000 of damage to the motor (which the guest had to pay for). We had a lucky escape and didn’t tempt fate by going out on the boat again.

Next time, I’ll describe some of the things we did on the island, its wildlife and discovering several ticks on myself after a walk.

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