View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tuesday 15 July

Although a shower was falling over Eriskay at 9 am, the day turned out to be absolutely glorious and warm. My camera was giving me grief, but I was given the loan of another camera, which allowed me to continue to take pics. The bus for Eriskay came at around 10, and we were on the ferry not long after. The boat was packed to the gunwhales, and there was a huge queue for tickets. The Loch Alainn is not as comfortable as the Loch Portain, which plies the Sound of Harris. However, the sun was shining and it was getting quite warm. At Ardmhor, Barra, there was confusion over the bus. A group of disabled people had been chartered a bus, which was vastly late turning up. Another group of people had to be taken to the airport, before we could head down the road for Castlebay along the west side of the island. We arrived in town half an hour late. Timetable, what’s that?! Once in Castlebay, we had some lunch in the hotel of the same name, after which we ambled round town for a bit. The village is very quiet, and the only sounds came from the sea. The boat plying back and forth to Kishmul Castle, a group of youngsters out in sailing boats. The sun was warm. By 2.45, we went to wait for the bus north, and we were taking back along the east side of the island. The ferry departed at 3.45, and we were able to watch the plane land on the sandy beach at Eoligarry. Forty minutes later, we landed at Eriskay and the bus took us the mile or so to the shop. The community shop in Eriskay, like the one at Ness in Lewis, is well-stocked. To close proceedings, we had dinner in Am Politician, the bar dedicated to the story of the freighter Politician, which ran aground in the narrows between South Uist and Eriskay in February 1941 - with its famous cargo of thousands of cases of whisky. A postbus took us back to Polochar - right to the door. The sun set in a blaze of glory, just like yesterday.


Monday 14 July

Off to South Uist with two others, whom I cannot name on the open WWW.

Upon departing Stornoway, I discovered I had left my GPS behind. Well, it’s not essential, but I won’t be able to get a reminder where I took my photographs. Never mind. Bus left Stornoway at 9.35, and covered the 37 miles to Tarbert in about an hour. There were roadworks south of Arivruaich, to do with the laying of fibre-optic cables. They were digging a trench by the roadside, which yielded a lot of rocks. Traffic was regulated by temporary traffic lights, which had an unusual effect on our bus. The driver stopped at Scaladale, to check his boot and to reset his electronics. The signal, controlling the lights, had served to open the boot, and stop the windscreen wipers! We arrived in Tarbert to change buses. The rain was falling steadily, and turned increasingly heavy as we proceeded south. Upon arrival at Leverburgh, traffic was backed up near the ferry, forcing the driver to ignore the one-way system. Walking the hundred yards to the ferry left us soaked. The crossing was reasonably lively, and some of the children on board said they felt queasy. When I went to the ticket office, I asked for a “foot passenger”, upon which the man in the office told he had no more foot passengers going spare. Ha ha. At Berneray, it was still raining, so we dived into the shelter on the pier. Several cyclists were sheltering there too, and they had an unpleasant surprise. The lunchtime departure, at 1.25pm, had been cancelled due to low tides, so they had to wait 4 hours for the next sailing. Meantime, they toddled off to the Lobster Pot restaurant in Berneray. Our bus arrived on time, and it only cost me £6.20 for the 50 miles to the bottom of South Uist. The rain lashed down all the way through North Uist, Benbecula and part of South Uist. I had trouble taking pictures of the journey due to the conditions, but still managed a sizeable collection. On passing the Kildonnan Centre, the driver spotted an unusual flag, which he did not recognise. I was able to tell him that that was the flag of the Hebrides, which had been adopted some years previous. Finally, the sun came out as we passed through the machair lands near Stoneybridge, and it remained reasonable. The bus very kindly took us to the door of the Polochar Inn, 5 miles south of Daliburgh, where we will be staying. It is located right on the south coast of South Uist, near a lovely beach and shoreline, looking out towards Barra and Eriskay. After dinner (nice steak), I toddled off for a short walk in the machair at South Smerclete, to what looks like an abandoned house called Tipperton. I proceeded to the beach, which is the start of the miles and miles of South Uist beaches. The sun set at 10.15 in a blaze of red.