Mar 162017
Barra: Visit Scotland

It may be best known for its unconventional landing strip, but strolling around the Scottish isle reveals a catalogue of curiosities.
There are some places you expect to see an aircraft – say, for argument’s sake, on an airport runway, or in the sky. Then there are places you do not expect to see one, such as on a beach. Yet that is exactly where the Twin Otter aircraft is, bumping along over the sandy ridges of Barra’s Tràigh Mhòr, its fuselage wobbling in the wind. Then, as if picked up by an invisible hand, it lifts into the air, dips and achieves elevation almost vertically – resembling a helicopter rather more than you think it ought to.
I’ve timed my walk on Barra, the most southerly of Scotland’s inhabited Outer Hebrides islands, to catch the spectacle of what is claimed to be the world’s only scheduled beach landing by a commercial aircraft. The vast sands of Tràigh Mhòr are laid out before me: the tide at its lowest and the water’s edge so distant and so shallow that it’s not actually visible.
This walk was published in the Independent on 30 September 2016, read the whole thing here.

  •  16 March 2017