Mar 162017
Mark on Barra beach

Mark Rowe has to choose between a salmon and some beloved old walking boots if he’s to catch a plane home in time to see his children.
The sun was shining and, like a theatre curtain drawing aside to reveal the stage, the sea had retreated to expose the vast sands of Tràigh Mhòr on the northern edge of Barra. The main act, the world’s only scheduled beach landing by a commercial aircraft, was due. In fact, it was overdue.
I’d spent three weeks on the southern islands of the Outer Hebrides researching a guidebook. Now, laden with outdoor gear, cameras, notebooks and a large fillet of salmon, I was keen to get home. A doughty Twin Otter wobbles its way twice daily between Barra and Glasgow.
I was on the second flight but, due to what airlines always coyly describe as “a technical issue”, the first flight had not even arrived. The second flight was clearly going to be so late that I would miss my connection to Bristol. A night in Glasgow airport beckoned.
‘Oh I wish you’d got here five minutes earlier, there was a seat free then,’ said Loganair’s check-in attendant. We went through the standard routine: was space likely to emerge; could she ask passengers booked on the first flight if they would mind switching to the second; might the second fight make up time? No, no and no. The tear-jerking scenario of crestfallen children mewing softly into their pillows that night as daddy failed to materialise failed to cut it.
You can read the rest of this blog for Countryfile Magazine here.

  •  16 March 2017