On arrival in Leverburgh, Harris we needed diesel, for which I paid £1.35/litre. Living in the Outer Hebrides is expensive! But then the nowhere else in the UK has the same glorious combination of beaches and mountains. We drove up to Horgabost and camped by the beach. I’ll admit to being a little disappointed, I’d heard great things about the beach, which were all true, but the campsite above the dunes meant it was busy with families and people rendering the sand unsuitable for photography. The misanthope within like his beaches to himself! I ended up resorting to nocturnal photography in an effort to mitigate the problem. The film from my medium format camera was sent for development today, so hopefully I can share some results next week…
The weather didn’t fully co-operate either, whilst we had some moody skies, the low cloud obscured the hills across the bay. Maybe a return visit in the low season is in order. 😉 There is a little cluster of beaches in this corner of Harris, Seilebost and Luskentyre are just a few miles from Horgabost. Luskentyre is massive, it comes about 3km inland and is about 3km across it’s widest point. We took a stroll along it in hope of some solitude. We saw a few folks at the car park end, but only the odd couple here and there beyond that. I left Margaret to head up onto the dunes in hope of getting a good view of the beach below, I took a few snaps, then resorted to chasing butterflies across the dunes, trying to get a good photo. There was lots of them up there so when I lost one, I would scan around until I saw another close by.
The weather throughout our time on the islands was changeable, as per usual for a Scottish summer, but if you don’t mind getting rained on it can make for some moody, dramatic skies.
We took a drive up to Tarbert and then down the ‘Golden Road’ on the hunt for a Art gallery we’d spotted in the Tourist Information. We found it just in time for them to be closing for the day. We carried on down the road, which follows the eastern coastline of the island and arrived at The Mission, a photographic/ceramics gallery in a fantastic converted church. We weren’t really looking to buy anything, but we saw some large prints at very reasonable prices and ended up making a purchase, once we get it framed it will hang in the dining room.
I think we spent about an hour chatting to gallery owner Nickolai Globe about their project to take the church from a state of neglect to a fantastic work and living space. We mentioned how we’d love to do something similar and Nickolai pointed us to the Church at Timsgearraidh, Lewis, which was for sale and he assured us was superb. We left the site at Horgabost and took a drive up to see for ourselves. He was absolutely right, it will no doubt make a great home for someone, the area is beautiful, you drive in through a narrow steep sided valley which opens out to yet another superb beach with hills beyond. Sadly, we can’t afford a project on the scale of the church, but will keep playing the Lottery in the meantime.
The drive over the pass on the A859 from Harris to Lewis is a good one, it looks like there’s some good walking in the area. The hills are of a modest height, but full of character. We were treated to more dramatic skies, so I stopped the car a jumped out with the camera.
We eventually made our way to the community run site a Cnip, again, right on the beach. The location made up for the facilities which were basic, but dirty. I saw the woman cleaning them one evening, pushing a dirty mop around the floor and spraying air freshener into the gents urinal! Sorry missus, but it didn’t mask the stink of stale pish one bit. Having said that, it was only £3 per tent per night, so mustn’t complain too much.
We had a couple of things left on our itinerary before heading home, the standing stones at Calanais and the broch at Dun Carloway. The monument was constructed about 5000 years ago from Lewisian gneiss. I hadn’t realised that there is also a number of smaller megalithic sites in the surrounding area.
I’m happy to report that the day of our trip to Calanais was the only day which we saw any midgies, mainly because it was so calm, but even then the numbers were small and they didn’t bother us too much.
The Dun Carloway broch is about 2100 years old and only partially standing, but it allows a cross section of the building so you can see how the interior and exterior walls were tied together. The site is stable, so you can get in a walk around inside, although crouching is required to get through the doors.
The holiday was at an end, we could have stayed longer, there was certainly more to see and do, but 10 nights in a tent is long enough, besides, we want to leave some stuff for when we inevitably go back.