Thursday, 27 May 2010

Waverley in Loch Linnhe Sunday 31st May 2009

Waverley acknowledges Lord of the Glens
as the two ships pass on a tranquil Loch Linnhe

Surrounded by magnificent scenery

Heading for a very busy day at Oban

Only 3 of many thousand photos taken of Waverley during 2009,
but certainly 3 of the best!
Hopefully these photographs will encourage a few more to support Waverley,
during her weekend in Oban, 2010.

Waverley had a great weekend in the Western Isles last year, based at Oban, and Sunday 31st May provided idyllic conditions for sailing on the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer, especially the morning and evening legs in Loch Linnhe.  This wee story, and the photographs above, is intended to whet the appetite for the approaching Western Isles weekend

Robin Copland is a very affable character with a great love for Waverley, an in-depth knowledge of Malt Whiskies (and regularly checks that things are how he remembers them!) and a passion for the sport of Curling.  In his younger years he also had “a thing” for Duchesses – of the turbine variety - which he sailed on regularly during his family summer holidays in Largs.  I grew up in Largs but our paths never crossed during his visits there.  I currently live within a few hundred yards of where he grew up in Glasgow, and I now regularly shop on the site of where he often went Curling in his youth, but Robin is long gone to a big city in the east.

I got to know Robin in recent years through the Clydesite website for shipping enthusiasts, where Robin originally posted the following photos.  I think these lovely photos should be seen by a much wider audience of Waverley enthusiasts and supporters and Robin has very kindly agreed to me putting them on this blogsite. 

From conversation with Robin on the way to Oban last year, and having enjoyed his travelogue stories on Clydesite, the background to how these photos ended up being taken at all, make them all the more special and I’m sure Robin will look back over his 2009 West Highland adventure in years to come with a sense of satisfaction and achievement.  However, with due respect to Robin, who may by now be considering book offers and film rights for the full story, I’ve tried to condense some of the more pertinent points into the summary below, around that wonderful little word ....IF.

IF we had not met through Clydesite the story would never begin
IF Waverley had visited Oban on her original planned dates Robin would not have been there due to work commitments
IF Calmac’s Clansman did not have technical problems during that particular weekend when Waverley did go to Oban, there would have been no disruption to services, which impacted significantly on Robin’s plans, but added to the adventure!
IF Robin was not fortunate enough to have a brother as Manager on a certain west coast luxury cruise ship he would not have had a bed for the night alongside Craignure pier, after Waverley’s arrival at Oban, and he most certainly would not have been in the right place at the right time for the photographs.
IF Robin’s brother had not left his bicycle at the Craignure Calmac office for Robin to use, after his visit to Iona on the Saturday, he would have missed out on one of life’s great “adventures”.
IF Robin’s heart, lungs and legs had not held out, he would never have managed to cycle the 6 miles from Craignure to Fishnish in 24 mins.  Some of those who sampled Waverley’s range of malt whiskeys with him on the way to Oban may be a little more pointed in their comments but suffice is to say that Robin doesn’t look like a man who regularly achieves and maintains 15 mph on a push-bike!!
IF the last ferry from Craignure to Oban had not been cancelled on this day, he might have found the return 6 miles on the bike too big a challenge.
IF he was not the friendly and sociable character that he is, he may not have chatted with the Calmac crew on the Loch Fyne and found out that his onward transport to his floating bed alongside Oban pier had been cancelled.
IF he had not met a friendly bus driver called Alex on board the Loch Fyne – with an empty bus and boot – who just happened to be going back the long way around to Oban, Robin might still be somewhere on that road from Lochaline to Oban.
IF the Calmac timetable and ship rotas had been back to normal on the Sunday morning, he would have taken a trip to Coll on board Lord of the Isles and missed this great photographic opportunity.   
IF his brother was not working on Lord of the Glens, he would not have been sailing serenely up Loch Linnhe on board her on the Sunday morning, as Waverley steamed down from Fort William

The story continues after the photographs with calls at Corpach, travels on the West Highland Line, a drunk Irish girl on the train home to Edinburgh etc, etc but that is probably all best left for “the book” , when it comes!

Many thanks Robin, for sharing your travels, your experiences and your photographs and a very special thanks for being a great sport and letting me be selective about which of your own words I used to tell the story.

Charles McCrossan

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