A modest grand tour of the Highlands and Islands – Stage 6: Barra to Glasgow
On our last night on Barra, we go to a drama in Gaelic and English about the herring girls who prepared the fish for export at the herring stations in Castlebay in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is performed by the Barra Drama Group in front of a large audience in the community hall. It is very informal and eventually turns into a ceilidh with poetry recitals, singing and dancing. Great fun!
We do not sleep much that night as our room is over the bar and they have a special licence to stay open to 1.00 am. To rub salt into the wound, when we get up early to catch the ferry, the breakfast room, which we had been told would be open for us to help ourselves to juice and cereal, is locked and the key cannot be found. Not best pleased we embark on the ferry and are relieved to find the Calmac breakfast is ample and good! The 5 hour crossing to Oban is flat calm and we have great views of Mull to the south and the Grampians to the north.
The drive from Oban to Glasgow is along the busy A82, the last part beside Loch Lomond. Almost as soon as the loch recedes, we enter the greater Glasgow conurbation.
Glasgow is something of a revelation, not having spent time there before. Imposing, opulent architecture, streets teeming with life, edgy, fashionable and very much itself. We stay near the University of Glasgow and the superb Kelvingrove Art Gallery.We are reminded of the city’s links with Irish republicanism when we hear a pipe band approaching and realise it is in support of the IRA. An uncomfortable reminder of unfinished business from the past. But we are delighted by an exhibition on the Art of Comics at the Kelvingrove – I had no idea Glasgow was so central in the development of superhero comics. Frank Quitely, the graphic artist, is a new hero of ours!
Our journey continues south through the Lowlands and the Border country. Much of it in driving rain. We arrive in North Yorkshire through the beautiful Dales. It feels like coming home.