Tiree part 2: surfing

April 26, 2016

Continuing my story about Tiree…

As I said in the previous post, I went to Tiree with my University’s surfing club with the purpose of surfing (or, in my case, attempting to surf). This might come as a surprise for some of you, but Scotland and the UK in general have some of the world’s and Europe’s best surfing spots.

It is kind of cold, but in some areas there is the Gulf Stream and we wear thick wetsuits in any case. Squeezing yourself into a wetsuit that is still damp from previous surf sessions and doesn’t quite smell like what you would expect the ocean to smell is not my favourite part of learning to surf. However, once you’ve gone throught this hell and got into the water, it feels much warmer than you will ever feel in Edinburgh on the ground. It’s warm, cozy and the thickness of the water protects from the wind.

Ballevulin, taken by Kyrstie Brown
Ballevulin, taken by Kyrstie Brown

I know some of my readers are not very acquainted with surfing, so I’ll just briefly explain how wetsuits work. They are made of a special material that lets some amount of water in but doesn’t let it out. The water is trapped and forms an additional layer around your body. It then heats up from the temperature of your body and keeps you warm for the rest of the time you spend in water. But to function properly they have to be super tight, so you end up looking like a sausage in a tight fishing net and also it is  almost impossible to get into them. It took me a year to  gain the priceless skill to do it more or less quickly. Then comes the part where you have to get out, and this is the worst. It’s cold and windy. You just got out of water so you are wet. After taking off the gloves your fingers become stiff very soon, so you only have limited time until you totally stop feeling them. It’s alright if your wetsuit zips up on the back, you have enough time to use your fingers and you’ll be exposed to the wind for a shorter time. But in some cases, like mine, you get into and out of the wetsuit through a wide neck-hole, getting stuck every time and then standing wet in the wind for a while.  I challenged myself once with getting out of my wetsuit on my own, but, yeah, got stuck, wetsuit half way down, trapping me like a straightjacket and the upper part of my body in a wet swimwear being nicely waffed by the cold Scottish wind. A kind woman who had been passing by asked if she could help me and then liberated me from this evil creation.

Credit to Kyrstie Brown
Credit to Kyrstie Brown

Luckily, wetsuits did not take too much time and you could always make fun of them. Once it’s done it’s time to go beaching.

Tiree has several beaches (duh, it’s an island), we explored Ballevulin, Ballevule, Maze and Crossapol (I might have misspelled the names). My personal favourites were Ballevulin and Crossapol, as they had the smallest walking distances between cars and the water, so less effort carrying all the surfboards and slower death from ice cold wind on the way back. And I just love how long Crossapol was, not having many rocky bits on it, so less dangerous stuff to look out for.


At Crossapol. Ali by Oscar Manville-Hales
At Crossapol. Ali by Oscar Manville-Hales

Ballevule was beautiful, a long beach with both sand and rocks, located on the side of the hill. It had a beautiful view of the hill with some white houses on it. I was not in the mood for surfing that day so I just took a stroll along Ballevule, sun bathed on rocks with a book at one end of the beach and then peacefully napped at another end.

Me. Credit to Kyrstie Brown
Ballevule. Credit to Kyrstie Brown
Ballevule, taken by me
Ballevule, taken by me


I am  drawing my knowledge of surfing from Lilo&Stitch, a couple of YouTube tutorials and the advice of my boyfriend and friends. In other words, I am rubbish at it for now. Nevertheless, having spent a whole week in Tiree and been occupied with falling, falling, faceplanting, missing waves, giving up, getting buried in the sand and then falling again, I finally managed to at least stand up. Thus I can be a judge of the waves and say that they were perfect for beginners. But more profficient users of surf boards like our boysband, featured in the pictures, were very happy with the waves as well.

Adam, Oscar, Jules, Patrick, Ali and Nathan are the ones that I think are the most advanced surfers in our group and they enjoyed the waves immensely. I’ll just share pictures of them below.

Adam, taken by Alasdair Evans
Jules, taken by Alasdair Evans
Nathan, body surfing, taken by Oscar Manville-Hales
Oscar, taken by Alasdair Evans.


I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it interesting!

Finishing it off with a summary video from Tiree, filmed by Sophie Stenson.




By Natalie

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