Bye bye Skye
Having made the journey from Glencoe to Uig in good time, I had time to both get a ticket for the crossing (always useful!) as well as grab a drink. Looked like it was going to be a fairly busy crossing, but the CalMac team are excellent at working out the best arrangement of vehicles to ensure that as many vehicles can safely be fitted on board to make the crossing.
Luckily I was ushered to the front of a new channel before boarding was to commence. Makes a nice change from being last in line and hoping for a space that’s for sure! It wasn’t then long before I got notice to drive my way on board. It’s all a very slick operation from disembarkation of the people coming back from Tarbert to getting the get group of vehicles and passengers on board for the return trip.
So time to say goodbye to the mountains of Skye behind me, it was time to leave terra firma and board the ferry from Uig to Tarbert.
The crossing of ‘the Minch’ to the Outer Hebrides is fairly short, around 90 minutes. However, the crossing experience can be more than just simply a means of getting from A to B. On board, you get a very different perspective of the dramatic landscape and coastlines. It’s nice to relax and take in the sweeping and seemingly endless panoramas.
A, B, Sea of experience
Ondeck, there can be special moments when you get to see pods of dolphins swimming alongside. On one previous crossing, the coastguard’s helicopter arrived mid-crossing to practice taking on/off a person from the moving ferry in case of emergencies. Amazing skills and expertise are on display right there!
The decision to sail or not is always weather-dependent, and I guess that comes down to the Captain. It was a bit breezy today, with winds gusting to over 50mph later on apparently. As we left the relative shelter of Uigs harbour and ventured out across the Minch, the wind speed picked up as evident by the amount of spray the ship produced cutting its way through the white-crested waves.
So today’s soundtrack of waves and the hum of the ship’s engines was supplemented by a cacophony of various car alarms triggered as the ship swayed with the sea’s rhythm.
As you approach the ferry port of Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, you become aware you are going somewhere very different. For me, it always feels very exciting. The terrain here is raw, less manicured and more inspiring. Less scared by human intrusion.
Harris and Lewis are not, as some might think, separate Islands. They are both areas on the same physical island, with a range of mountains roughly acting as a geographical/topological divide. It was up and over these mountains that the next stage of my road trip would take me as I headed further north towards the top of the Isle of Lewis.
The weather apps are pretty accurate these days. They forecast high winds and heavy rain, and sure enough, right on cue, they appeared pretty much as I disembarked. It did shall we say, make for an ‘interesting’ journey up and over the mountains!
Aerodynamically, the stock height splitty is a bit of a brick on four wheels. It took a bit of buffeting (and a fair degree of concentration) to make the journey across. Especially at times with sporadic torrential downpours along the way and driving into headwinds that seemed to be going faster than me!
However, once again the splitty did good. Hastings to the Outer Hebrides. Where’s the fun in having a camper if you don’t go out and use it? It got me here safe and sound to tonight’s destination, the Small Mission Hall on the Isle of Lewis. Some of you might know about this little project of mine. It is an old unused, run-down church building that was built way back in 1913 – so now in 2023, it’s a sprightly 110 years old! A couple of years ago, for some strange reason, I decided to buy it unseen, in a location I had never been to back then – it all seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d always wanted a building design renovation project to take on. Now I have one. It’s going to be quite a challenge that’s for sure!
If you are interested, feel free to follow the progress on it. You can also follow on Instagram as well if you are so inclined.
So instead of sleeping in the splitty tonight, I get to sleep in a tent on the floor inside the building. All I need to do is remember how to put up my classic 1990s original Trisar tent by Wild Country!
Not sure if that’s an upgrade or downgrade, to be honest, but tent life it is for me!