In early June on a trip to the wonderful Isle of Harris, we had five full days ahead to pack in as much as we could.
On our first evening, after the long drive from the Borders, through Skye to Uig for the ferry to Tarbert, the sun was still sparkling on the water at 9.30pm so we set off from Drinishader for a brisk four mile walk around Loch Procrapol. Heading along the lovely grassy path on the western side of the loch with not a breath of air and peace all around, after our busy day this was sheer joy.
As we neared the southern end of the loch the only birdsong we could detect was wheatear and these lovely wee birds kept us company all the way. Now we were on ‘The Golden Road’ heading north, passing two huge natural harbours which, of course, we had to inspect but as daylight was beginning to disappear we weren’t able to see anything other than a few geese and heard a curlew call by the shore.
Arriving back at 11.30pm and a welcome cup of hot chocolate we realised we had been on the go since 5am, so a good night’s sleep awaited.
We awoke to another beautiful day although with a strong wind. Today’s trip was out to visit Hushinish in West Harris and on the way, take a two mile walk up wild and windy Glen Mhiabhaig to the eagle observatory beside Loch Scourst.
No eagles in view this morning, only a few red deer out in the breeze so after a quick snack we returned disappointed.
The small twisty road west takes you right past the front door of the majestic Abhainn Suidhe Castle where we stopped and bought some eggs for tea from their open shop with its ‘honesty box’! This baronial style castle was built in 1865 for the seventh Earl of Dunmore and is now owned by the Estate as a venue for shooting parties and local events.
The small settlement at Hushinish with its wonderful sandy beach was extremely busy with tourists so we headed north for a short walk over the machair to the jetty which looks towards the Island of Scarp, uninhabitated since its evacuation in the 1970’s. We found an abundance of wild flowers around the fertile machair - late primrose, lousewort, orchid, ragged robin, tormentil, bird’s-foot trefoil, plantain, marigold and saxifrage.
Oystercatchers were unusually quiet down by the shoreline and a few arctic tern were flying over the bay above us as we had lunch at this beautiful spot, watching a pied wagtail feed two babies.
On our return journey we stopped off at a small interesting art gallery for a cuppa where we learned something of the old whaling station nearby. There are plans for these long abandoned buildings from the early 1900’s to be brought back to life again as a visitor centre.
To be continued