Tuesday 7th September 2021
Thanks for the guesses following Sunday’s post. Some of you were spot on identifying Britain’s most westerly bus stop.
Bearing in mind we’re talking ‘Britain’ (therefore ruling out Northern Ireland) and not just thinking about England, the Outer Hebrides trumps Lands End by a considerable longitude; and in particular, the mission to track down and visit Britain’s most westerly located bus stop ends on the southern island of Barra, and to be even more precise, on Vatersay which is south of but connected to Barra by a narrow causeway.
I undertook this adventure accompanied once again by my brother as well as famed YouTube transport vlogger Geoff Marshall who had planned to make one of his engaging videos about our quirky day trip.
It isn’t possible to travel the thousand miles from Sussex to Barra and back in a day by train and ferry so carbon emissions aside it had to be an aeroplane based adventure; which ironically works out far cheaper too.
Flight times from Glasgow to Barra, with its beach based airport runway have to fit in with tide times and EasyJet’s Gatwick to Glasgow schedule has been varying by the day and week over the last few months so we had to patiently wait to find a day when the schedule gave a comfortable connection in Glasgow and offered enough time on Barra to tour the island and visit that western most bus stop on Vatersay. Yesterday was that day.
There are two bus routes on Barra and Vatersay, both operated by Aurora Trans Co. The main route W32 comprises a circular around the island’s one principal road – the A888 – connecting Castlebay (the community in the south of the island where the daily ferry to and from Oban sails) with the airport in the north as well as Airdmhor, where the ferry to Eriskay departs giving access via causeways and another ferry to northern Western Isles.
There are three round trips a day on the W32 (one morning clockwise and two anti-clockwise in late morning and late afternoon). There’s also a pre-bookable early morning journey to the Airdmhor ferry and one back in the evening via the western side and a scheduled early afternoon journey just out and back, also on the western arc.
In between the morning and afternoon journeys the minibus heads south from Castlebay on the other short bus route numbered W33 which crosses the causeway for a 15 minute run to Vatersay. And it’s on this route you can discover Britain’s most westerly bus stop.
Not at the terminus itself as that’s located slightly to the east but in a tiny hamlet further north called Caolis Village at an isolated road junction as shown below.
The bus stop sees just three departures a day into Castlebay (on Mondays to Saturdays at 10:04, 12:26 and 15:41) which only run if booked with the driver by telephone two hours in advance (no DRT style algorithms and apps here). Outward journeys from Castlebay to Caolis leave at 09:37, 12:00 and 15:15, if requested to the driver in Castlebay.
It’s not usually the case for there to be marked bus stops with a pole or flag on Barra; everyone just knows where the bus stops, which is usually outside their house, but I’m delighted to confirm Britain’s westernmost bus stop sports not only a shelter, and bench seat as seen on Google map’s street view…
…. but it also looks like a timetable is displayed.
So it’s a worthy recipient of the accolade of being Britain’s most westerly bus stop.
Sadly our plans to visit it for the day yesterday frustratingly went awry at Glasgow Airport.
After a very early start and much expectation arriving at Gatwick Airport at 05:30 for the EasyJet flight at 06:25 to Glasgow ….
… and a nice breakfast on arrival at Glasgow Airport before catching the LoganAir flight at 10:15 to Barra …..
… it turned out a half hour delay due to “weather conditions” turned into an hour’s delay and then into more waiting until the flight was finally cancelled at midday putting paid to our travel plans.
Misty conditions on Barra were restricting visibility which didn’t clear even into the afternoon meaning both scheduled return flights yesterday were cancelled leaving two plane loads of people stranded.
So our adventure was curtailed in Glasgow and for now I’ll just have to settle for that Google street view of the bus stop and shelter.
On the positive side we spent the afternoon at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum with its fine collection of transport history before our evening EasyJet flight back to Gatwick. So to end on a positive, here are some photos from that visit.
Barra; we’ll be back.
PS and thanks to Brian here’s a photo of RM835 visiting Vatersay and Barra a few years ago…
I used to run a bus company but in retirement am a full time passenger travelling all over Britain enjoying its splendid scenic delights by bus and train. Currently social distancing at home.