Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Tuesday 14 July

After a nice breakfast, I drove off in a northerly direction to go round the cemeteries in North Uist and Berneray. The single-track roads require your full attention, both in terms of on-coming and following vehicles. A police-van was behind me from the Balivanich turn-off until I had to turn off myself at Carinish. Had a job finding the graveyard, but finally located it in the middle of a large ruin - the Trinity Temple. I met a council employee who had been spraying nettles there. The two gravestones were difficult to read. Next stop: Balranald. The morning began to clear up by then, and the views opened out as far as St Kilda, 40 miles to the west. Balranald is famous for a RSPB bird reserve, but I went into the large Kilmuir cemetery. I spent quite a lot of time there, and found many war-related gravestones. The road after that veered east along the north coast of the island, with the tidal island of Vallay to the north. I parked at the Sollas Co-op and got myself something for lunch, the time being midday. I then walked down the track into the machair, only to be eaten alive by flies. The cemetery at Dunskellor was fiendishly difficult to find, and it was only due to a large memorial that I could see it. After taking the photographs I needed, I walked across the machair to the sea to have my lunch. Fortunately, there were no flies by the dunes. About 10 miles further along, I found Clachan Sands cemetery, once more in the dunes, but this one is properly signposted. Berneray, only a couple of miles further along, was endowed with two graveyards. I went to the wrong one first, of course. This involved driving down a track into the machair, get yourself eaten by the **** flies and find that none of the gravestones is older than the mid-1960s. So, off to the other side of the island. You can't do more than 20 mph on Berneray. I got out at Sandhill Farm and was met by the most horrendous stench. Rotting seaweed on the foreshore below. I walked into the machair and passed through thick nettles - from which emanated a very deep, ominous buzzing noise. Millions of flies... Spoke to a chap who was having a break from his walk by the graveyard, who thanked me for doing what I was here to do. Afterwards, I drove south into North Uist and visited people at the Langass Lodge. The A867 between Lochmaddy and Clachan allowed me to do 60 mph in 5th gear, wow. Dinner was venison.

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