The Hebrides

The last 7 days pottering along the E coast of the Outer Hebrides have been superb. Inevitably there has been the occasional day of wind and rain , but with the aid of Mr Grib we tuck ourselves in somewhere and have a lazy day , perhaps emerging for a wet blowy walk – but perhaps just staying on board and reading . The rest of the days have been perfect , with sparkling clear visibility so that we can see right across Skye to the mainland some 30 miles to our East. The East coast of the islands are rugged cliffs indented by myriad lochs whilst the Sound between Uist and Harris is littered with tiny Isles and rocks though which we gingerly picked our way to the sheltered little anchorage on the east coast of Berneray. This is a relatively flat island and a moderate walk across the machair ( fertile sandy meadow ablaze with wildflowers ) brings you to an astonishing deserted beach of white sand and azure sea and sky set off by the purple hills of Harris to the north and Uist to the South. No doubt it is a very different place with an Atlantic storm pulverising the little island , but when we were there the scenery was simply breathtakingly beautiful.
Just to the East are the Shiant islands. Tall basaltic columns ( 3 times higher than Staffa) support imposing cliffs and the two islands give fairly good shelter in SW winds , although the anchorage could never be described as secure. Somehow this adds to the majesty of the place – but the real bonus at this time of year are the wall to wall puffins , guillemots and razorbills that nest so densely that the green areas of the cliff are speckled white with the profusion of nesting birds. Add to this the predatory skuas and herring gulls that are preying on this vast population and you have a ringside seat to observe their action packed lives.
Its midsummer and it never really gets dark up here , so that the four of us tend to share an evening meal and natter away until someone notices its midnight ,although you would never guess by looking outside . I suppose it is fully light by 0300 , but I am ashamed to say that since getting here we have yet to be awake that early!
We are now in Stornaway , the capital of the islands and a friendly workaday sort of place. We are due another wet day , and then plan to explore the island by car. Until then , greetings from Festina in the far north West .

Leave a Reply