Loco on location in Tiree Scotlandloco
Many of you may already have seen photographs from some of our Northern Locos’ trip to Tiree, Scotland over the last week or so but here’s the full report from boss man Joey T.
SUP and kite riders Toby and Laura from Aberdeen invited Joe along a few weeks back which he instantly jumped on knowing that September can often be epic on Tiree and could potentially deliver superb content for all of the new 2015 Loco toys. After a couple of calls to some industry contacts Joe was hooked up with a fantastic high end cottage, ferry tickets were booked and we all started counting down the days.
Due to the unhelpful ferry times we decided to make the 5-6hr pilgrimage North to Oban on the Friday afternoon to avoid the worst of the traffic. We left a full on pea souper on the East Coast which killed the coastal views of Northumberland and Berwick on the way up to Edinburgh and it wasn’t really until we got into the Loch Lomond that the skies cleared and we could drink in the stunningly rugged scenery. It was a first for missus leaving her speechless for much of this part of our journey (a first and noted…)
We hit Oban about tea time so after the obligatory fish n chips pit stop we parked the loco passion wagon and hunkered down in a pub near the harbour watching the pink sunset amazed at how different the weather was from what we’d just left behind on the East coast.
After a relatively sleepless night due to parking on quite a busy road, making the ferry wasn’t easy and we had very little to say to Toby, Laura and friends until at least 3 coffees and bacon butty had been demolished. We also found out that Ruby (the in-house Loco pooch) was not a fan of being on her leash or strangers so sadly she had to ‘get sectioned’ in the confines on the van for most of the ferry journey! Once we arrived and got ‘the beast’ out on the beach with her ball she was right as rain. Saturday was a bit of a non starter with no phone signal to co-ordinate the troops, getting into our new place with an enthusiastic board nut as the landlord took longer than anticipated and Haley and I were wanting a disco nap. We did venture out to the Maze car park for a look later on but the swell looked uber small so we decided to save ourselves for what Sunday had to offer.
After a nice restful evening we were up with the Corncrakes with a plan hatched to meet at Balephuil early doors. We arrived to find Laura and Toby already there and gearing up for what looked like 2-3′ of clean Atlantic swell. The spacing wasn’t amazing but the light was good so we made hay while the proverbial shined, fitting in two back to back sessions.
Laura and Toby were riding our brushed carbon short SUPs with some success, picking off the set waves and careering down the line. Joe started on the new 8’9” Pro as the tide pushed in before changing up to the new 10′ nose rider for earlier entry and some old school toes to the nose action!
Even Ruby wanted to get some water time so after swimming out back a couple of times much to Haley’s disbelief Joe took it upon himself to give the hound some 1-2-1. The nose rider wasn’t really the right tool for the job with a 100kg Joe and 40kg pooch but it’s fair to say we’ll see Ruby occupying a nose position on the wider more buoyant 2014 9’11” before the season is out! She’s certainly a water baby just like her Dad…
Needless to say we left the beach pretty beat up and in need of some fuel and a couple of ibuprofen to take away the aches and pains but after a little rest we changed venue to Balevullin which looked like we should have been there all day with bigger waves and camera friendly elevated hillside to shoot any action from.
Joe spent some time behind the lens but it looked like Toby and Laura were spent after a full day in the water and who could blame them! Joe decided to get in as the sun started to set but the waves invariably slackened off making for a limited number of turns versus his usual preferred MO of the peeling reefs of Northumberland rendering smack after smack! Conclusion this place needed to be caught on the push!
We dragged our disheveled bodies back up the hill to the car park just before the sun went down before heading round for nice bit of food courtesy of new friend Janine (owner of world’s 2nd cutest lab) who was sharing a cottage with her husband Doug and Toby & Laura. Needless to say a few beverages helped lubricate our aging bodies, there was a a bit of banter alongside the usual 9/11 conspiracy theories and semi-controversial drive home.
As anyone who’s ever been to Tiree will tell you it’s easy to rack up the miles driving endlessly without actually ever getting in the water which was pretty much the story on Monday. Balevullin had lost it’s size and the promised wind never really rocked up although Laura did manage to get out on her 14m kite at Gott Bay while Joe watched from the Lodge pint in hand hoping the houlie would kick in properly so he could get out on 5.7m and test drive the new Loco windsurf shapes. It wasn’t to be.
Tuesday looked promising on the wind and wave front so another early start and circumnavigation of the island was actioned but again the wind lords weren’t smiling upon us with Crossapol offering the most hope but only ever teetering around F4 with the forecast waves never really arriving. Joe did get out briefly on the new windsurf shapes but there wasn’t really enough wind to make an informed evaluation except that they looked very different to the longer more traditional outlines from Goya and Quatro. That said Laura got to try her 5’6” Tomo kiteboard which seemed like a better size for her and she was soon dialing in fulling planing gybes and hitting what lips were there!
Bit of a worrying 30mins when the loco van gave up the ghost but thanks to some brave jump start positioning from Doug the battery was soon charged and we could take shelter from the shitty weather and head back for a good thawing out and an obligatory G&T (or 4).
A much needed early night and the batteries seemed replenished so it was back to Balephuil for an early morning wave fest. We were greeted by 4-6′ with offshore wind which made for some frustrating scratching at times but once riding the waves were pretty punchy making for some abortive barrel attempts on both the SUPs and new Tomo and Magic Whale surfboards.
3hrs soon passed and food was again necessary so we blasted round to Scaranish to score some sarnies. After a little break time walking the pooch it was back to the beach for round 2. We bumped into a couple of the Northumbrian Windsurfing crew with Glen Stovold game for a bit of SUP so Joe and him ventured out on the push making the most of the increased wave size, sharing a peak in the middle of the beach. To be fair it had slackened off a fair bit by the afternoon but the sun was in effect with us paddling in 3/2s…in Scotland…in September!!
Toby and Laura rocked up a bit later to catch high tide for some SUP and surfing but it had turned quite dumpy by then so it was less than ideal conditions. That said the sun was out so we couldn’t grumble too much!
Our final day promised much from the optimism of our laptop screens the night before but in reality we woke up to mist and drizzle which is never usually a good sign for consistent planing conditions. In fairness Joe was fully broken from the day before and the weather was bloody awful so he didn’t bother leaving the house but the others ventured to Crossapol in the afternoon for some marginal wobble and ride unless you had a 6.4/7.5m. That said a couple of the boys scored late on as it got dark but we were living it large in the lodge by then eating some fantastic locally sourced grub.
In conclusion Tiree is a beautiful place to visit with it’s shell sand beaches, friendly folk and jaw dropping scenery. If you’re looking for SUP it has plenty of options for flat water cruising through to pumping beach break waves when it’s on. Great place to learn surfing in the summer with larger juice for the rippers in the autumn/winter. For windsurfing always take 1/3 off the predicted forecast (or pack a big sail so you’re not left skunked). The Tiree Wave Classic is there shortly and having seen it fire properly before it’s certainly some place when the planets align. Great place for kiting of all levels provided you have a big one in your quiver. For the less active other half or family we’d recommend going in the summer when wet days are less of a problem and there’s more scope to explore the public footpaths, hire a bike or simply kick back on the beach.
Even though it wasn’t ‘all time’ while we were there it was great getting feedback on 95% of the new kit and spending a bit more time with Toby and Laura as it’s seldom we get to hook up with them living in Aberdeen! That said Joe has a North East Scottish mission in mind for this winter so we might see those guys sooner than they think….you’ve been warned!!