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PUBLIC TRANSPORT


Enjoy the gentle pace of life on Islay


Day four


My interim day on Islay was relaxing – a mixture of walks, sightseeing and taking it easy, with the odd interesting distillery visit. Te bus service here is less well-


developed than on Arran, and there is no day-ticket, but it is adequate – three spokes from the island’s centre at Bowmore, and it seems you can break your journey on a through-ticket to shop at the little capital. Port Ellen to Port Charlotte was just over £3 for a single fare. Tere is also still a Postbus, a diminishing breed, with cheaper fares and slower progress, a great way to adjust to the pace of island life, meet local people and hear the Gaelic.


Day three


Public transport no fun? Tis trip had everything, including the bonus of a spectacular diversion. If it doesn’t always go right, it’s surprising how often out of adversity comes opportunity! After a coffee in Lochranza village’s Sandwich Station, I took the noon sailing on the small Calmac car ferry across to Claonaig, where a bus was waiting to take me the short trip across the finger of Kintyre to Kennacraig (£2). Te 1pm sailing for Islay was packed.


Fifteen minutes into the two-and-a-half- hour voyage, the Captain announced that there was a mechanical fault and the MV


Arran would have to set back to port. After many delays, passengers and drivers were advised that they should make their own way to Oban, 55 miles to the north, for an alternative vessel. Foot-passengers were found lifts, and eventually the MV Hebridean left Oban for an unorthodox three-and-a-half hour trip of a lifetime, down past Seil Island and Easdale, Luing and Scarba and between Colonsay and the lengthy flank of Jura to Port Askaig. We arrived some seven hours late, but


Calmac had laid on a free meal, and a free bus for the 10 or so hostellers for Port Charlotte stranded by the delay. At the Youth Hostel, hosts Lorna and Karl had delayed closing up – a typical act of kindness.


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TOP TEN MONEY-SAVING TRAVEL TIPS 02


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Plan your trip, within reason, about a month before you intend to travel, and be prepared to spend an hour or so on train, bus, ferry and tourist websites. You’ll discover that an advance rail ticket for one person or a small family can be very good value compared with petrol costs alone.


58 SCOTTISH HOSTELLER 2012


Don’t expect fares to be logical, especially by rail, and don’t trust the first fare you’re shown, or even the second. Just take advantage of the bargains.


Breaking a journey into separate bite-size pieces can pay amazing dividends. For example: advance single, without railcard, York-Kyle of Lochalsh – cheapest £137.70. Broken into two journeys, York-Edinburgh and Edinburgh-Kyle – total £31.20, and you can do that in a day!


Five minutes into the aborted sailing from Kennacraig, MV Arran heads down West Loch Tarbert


Sailing between Colonsay and the lengthy flank of Jura to Port Askaig


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Have the good luck to be of a certain age. Under 26 or over 60 is ideal, as you’ll qualify for a third off low advance train fares. Families, disabled and other users also qualify for discounts. Over 55s get low-season deals to travel between any two stations in Scotland, with Berwick and Carlisle added, for about £15.


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If you have missed out on advance fares, it can be much cheaper to book one long-distance ordinary single rail ticket (eg Stirling-Turso), breaking your journey as many times as you like, rather than buy separate tickets. It’s always worth enquiring.


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