Barra beach airport tops poll of best places to land

 

An airport at the edge of the Atlantic, where planes touch down on the beach, has been named the world's most spectacular place to land.

The bay of Traigh Mhor, on the northern tip of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, is the only place on the globe where scheduled flights land by the tide.

The remote airport beat tourist hotspots such as St Barts, the Maldives and Gibraltar to be named the most scenic place to land.

More than 1,000 people voted in the poll by private jet hire booking network PrivateFly.com.

Barra received just over 22% of the vote, the most overall.

Traigh Mhor was licensed as an airfield in 1936, and now around 10,000 people fly there every year.

Flights land on three runways marked by wooden poles which are submerged by the sea at high tide.

Emergency flights occasionally operate at night from the airport.

Traveller John Milne, from Uddingston in Lanarkshire, has flown to Barra twice. He said the experience is "simply wonderful".

The 66-year-old retired accountant, who most recently flew to the island in September with his wife Irene, said: "It is such fun. Much of the charm is what you are flying over.

"In September we flew from Glasgow, down the Clyde estuary and up over Argyll and on over Mull.

"We had a wonderful view of the top end of Mull, Iona and Coll.

"You can see out of the pilot's window because there is no door between the pilot and the passengers, so you are watching the runway surge up towards you as you land.

"I couldn't stop looking, it was too fascinating.

"It is obviously a special experience. It was something we always wanted to do."

The island is one of the most southerly of the inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides.

Just five miles wide and eight miles long, it is famous for being the last resting place of Whisky Galore author Compton Mackenzie.

Michael Galbraith, station manager for Barra airport, said the beach landing is "certainly one of the most unusual".

He said: "To be voted number one is a wonderful accolade for Barra Airport. To be up against some of the most beautiful parts of the world such as the Maldives and St Barts is testament to Scotland's stunning scenery.

"When arriving at Barra Airport, the landing on the beach is certainly one of the most unusual.

"When competing against large scale airports, it goes to show that when it comes to a stunning landing, small can definitely be more beautiful."

Meanwhile a remote youth hostel on Shetland has been voted the best in the world.

Islesburgh House Youth Hostel was given the award by Hostelling International.

The award is given to the hostel with the highest overall customer rating on the Hostelling International website, www.hihostels.com

More than 4,000 people go to the 64-bed hostel each year.

Hostelling International said it was a "beautiful grand mansion house with fabulous views" with "friendly and efficient staff" and excellent facilities.

Neil Watt, Shetland Islands Council executive manager for sport and leisure, welcomed the award and the potential visitors it will bring to Shetland.

He said: "This is an amazing achievement for all the staff at Islesburgh House Hostel and just goes to show the consistently excellent service they provide to all their guests.

"It is wonderful to know that travellers from all over the world have such a positive experience when they stay in Shetland and this award will no doubt encourage more people to visit.

"Everyone at Islesburgh should be immensely proud of what they have achieved. You couldn't ask for better."

PA

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