View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 22 February 2010

Monday pics

The first of the series of pictures I took on my trip to Arnol today is now my new header picture on this blog. Yes, it was that cold.

Arnol used to be a populous little place, but as you wander down the main streets, a series of abandoned blackhouses and ruined houses stare out from the roadside. It is not customary in the Hebrides to remove something that is no longer in use, whether that be a safe or a house. Houses whose occupants have passed away are also not touched.

The four snowmen stood outside a house in Barvas, 4 miles east of Arnol.

Visit to Arnol

Decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and head out of town to Arnol. That is a small village, 15 miles northwest of Stornoway. It is famous for the Arnol Blackhouse, a restored blackhouse of the sort that people used to live in until the 1970s. I did not visit the Blackhouse, which has halved its entrance fees, but instead went to the RSPB bird reserve at Loch na Muilne (Mill Loch), half a mile away. The weather was brilliantly sunny, but quite cold. There was a lot of snow around (although not deep), and the moor was frozen over. The loch was also frozen over, and there were no birds. The only birds of note were a group of three geese, some starlings and chickens and geese in a farmyard. There were also plenty of cats about, and some kids having fun on swings and roundabout by the junction.

Arnol has a remarkable collection of ruined blackhouses, and some of the ruins show a progression from blackhouse to modern house. The village also overlooks the shoreline along to Bragar and Labost, further west up the coast.

As I type this, the 91 pictures are uploading, so I shall post a selection of these in a later post.

Monday 22 February

Good morning from a sunny but very cold Stornoway. Overnight low was a teeth-chattering -7C at 7 am, within an hour of sunrise. Since then, the sun has set to work and jacked the mercury up to +3C an hour ago. There is ice on the waters of the basin across the road from me (and that's an inlet from the sea, to clarify for new readers), which will now melt quickly.

The golf course at Scarista, Harris, has won a £64k improvement grant from Sportscotland, in spite of not being open 7 days a week. Local Sabbath observance requires the course to be shut on Sunday, and that initially jeopardised the grant. Quiet talks over the past year have result in the grant being awarded, although the course remains closed on Sundays.

View from Scarista