ISLE of TIREE, the website of ‘Discover Tiree’, has a very helpful guide to using the island’s roads. For those used to travelling on the mainland with its motorways, dual-carriageways and A roads, the important thing to remember is that Tiree’s roads are almost entirely single track. “They may appear to be quiet but they are the main thoroughfares for livestock and island traffic and are used by all types of vehicles: cars, tractors, buses and heavy goods vehicles” – including articulated lorries.
When we came to live on the island, last August, we soon discovered that it wasn’t just the absence of roundabouts or traffic lights or speed limit signs that made Tiree’s roads different; it is the cavernous potholes. It sometimes feels as if work has begun on a tunnel to America, especially when driving along the Atlantic facing coastline. It is therefore advisable to drive with caution, but bearing in mind that some drivers throw caution to the wind.
Many driver’s are unused to driving on island roads, especially those of the single track variety. Remember ‘Passing Places’ are not ‘Parking Places’. Use ‘Passing Places’ not just to allow oncoming traffic to pass safely, but to permit faster vehicles to overtake. The rule of the road is ‘Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre’ and this applies especially on the island’s roads. Even when the ‘Passing Place’ is on your right, indicate left and stop on the Lefthand Side of the road. During the hours of darkness, or in driving rain, when you stop, switch your head lights to side lights only and keep indicating.
Earlier in the year it sounded as if there was to be a major investment in Tiree’s roads. New poles for road signs began to appear, then a few new signs (some in Gaelic) and now at last some of the potholes have been dressed. It all looked as if the island’s roads were about to be transformed, but then it wouldn’t be Tiree if you drove up a dual carriageway from the pier, or far that matter on a smooth road surface.
The beaches are stunning, many of the houses are unique, but keep your eyes on the road ahead. Watch out for cattle and sheep and especially for black cows and at night! Watch out for cyclists and walkers, they may not hear you approaching because of the wind.
On the island, “local people who work for the emergency services; doctor, nurses, ambulance, fire service and coastguard, use their own vehicles to attend emergencies. If you see a vehicle with their main headlights and hazard warning lights on, pull over immediately and let them pass.”
Drive safely, courteously and of course, “Don’t drink and drive!”