knitting on an island: Tanera Mor

I have recently returned from a little adventure in Scotland, that was built around a six night knitting retreat.  Getting there was quite a mission, particularly on a weekend, when I needed to get to the far reaches of north west Scotland.

I spent a night en route, staying at a little B&B in Ullapool, a small town in the Scottish Highlands.  It’s the sort of place that really does feel like an outpost, like I was reaching the end of the earth.  There was an interesting feel to the place, and I can imagine Ullapool has an amazing atmosphere during the various festivals that it hosts.

It so happened that there were two fellow knitters staying in the same accommodation (henceforth known as M&M) who turned out to be excellent fun and very good company.  We actually got kicked out of the B&B the next morning for chatting away for hours over breakfast; I don’t think the owner quite knew what to do with us!
Nonetheless, the view from my room was pretty amazing, and a rainbow appeared just as I was leaving:

There was a delay in the next part of our travels due to the weather, but after driving on from Ullapool, heading down a single lane track to Achiltibuie, and then boarding the ferry, we arrived at our destination of Tanera Mor.  It’s a small island inhabited by only a handful of people, and there are five houses on the island which are used for holiday lets, or for weekly retreats for various activities.

The knitting retreat was organised by the lovely Helen of Ripples Crafts.  There were 11 of us on the retreat (and a similar number the previous week), staying in two main houses (plus a few of us, myself included, sleeping in a shed at the back!).  As you can see, the two houses were spectacularly located:

The smaller house at the front, known as the Farmhouse, had a great view from the sunroom.  It was a great spot to sit, knit, and watch the ever-changing view, and this was where I spent a lot of my time.  And as they say, we had some weather, so there was always plenty to see.  The weather alternated between wind, rain, hail, and even a bit of sunshine, so we definitely had it all.

I seized a moment of sunshine to knit outside for a bit whilst taking in the view:

but even when the weather turned, we had an endless supply of rainbows.

The island also hosts day visitors during the summer (weather permitting, of course) and there is a little cafe/post office along the waterfront where people can grab a cuppa and a snack.

The island is outside Royal Mail’s jurisdiction, so it’s necessary to purchase additional Tanera Mor stamps to cover postage to the mainland.  I love an island with its own postal service, so there was a bit of postcard writing to make the most of it.

As my broken hand hasn’t healed properly I didn’t actually get a great deal of knitting done, but that was OK.  I took the opportunity of the “retreat” to do just that; retreat from the usual expectations, deadlines, and stress.  I actually came away feeling very inspired again, and with my creativity back in full swing.  Of course, a few days back at work soon put creativity back in its place!

We were the last group booking for the summer, and I wouldn’t want to speculate on a causal ink, but within a few days of our departure the family who owns the island announced that they are making it available for a community buyout

You can see more blog posts about the retreat here and here.

For now, I’ll just leave you with a few more photos from the island, and I’ll try to pretend that I’m not back in the real world again.


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