Stopping by the sea at Staffin seemed like a good idea. It is a beautiful location plus it’s close to Uig ferry port for the short early morning drive (according to the map). Unfortunately, that night both the rain and wind set in. Unlike my split camper, the roof on the T4 was not soundproofed so the impact of the rain was loud on the metal roof. Plus it was a pretty windy night that made the T4 rock about. A bit surprised by that. I thought it would have been much heavier than the splitty, so less affected by the wind? Must have been strong winds that night. All I know is it did not make for an easy nights sleep!
Undaunted, I was still up bright and early ready for the short drive to Uig ferry port. Looked easy on the map, 30 mins top. However, I hadn’t allowed for the fact that it was still dark, there was full-on torrential rain, plus the cloud cover was pretty much total and very low over the island. Oh, and the road was in fact a single track mountain road with tight hairpins going through the Skyes Quiraing region at the north of the island! If this drive didn’t wake me up, nothing would!
Que the Quiraing
The Quiraing is a landslip on the eastern face of the northernmost summit of the Trotternish on the Isle of Skye. The whole of this Ridge escarpment was formed by a great series of landslips; the Quiraing is the only part of the slip still moving – the road at its base, near Flodigarry, requires repairs each year. When you look at the photo, it looks amazing, unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience it at its best through the rain and murky cloud unfortunately.
Have to say I was pretty happy to see the distant lights of Uig ferry port once I had made it over the summit. Dawn was breaking, the light was now getting better and I was leaving the cloud cover behind me. Although there was still a series of tight 180º hairpins to navigate as you worked down the side of the mountain to the port itself. By the time I arrived, I was more than fully awake!
I had forgotten how much I’d enjoyed the ferry trips getting to and from the mainland. They were an added bonus last time around. Unfortunately the early morning ferry I had got up extra early for, had now been cancelled. A member of the crew had tested positive for Covid-19, unfortunately. So the ship had to now be deep cleaned, and a new crew arranged before any more crossing could take place.
The staff at CalMac Ferries were unsure as to if or when any replacement ferry might be able to be arranged. That said, they were very helpful and friendly. They always try to find a solution for you. As I hadn’t booked in advance (unsure of my road trip timings), I had to try and book a ferry for a couple of days time, but there was a very slim chance there might still be space later today if a ferry could be arranged. I waited patiently all day and quite literally was the very last person to get squeezed on at the back of the late afternoon ferry. My patience paid off!
Heading to the Isle of Harris
It was great to be on deck for most of the crossing. You get to see many of the smaller uninhabited islands that go to make up the overall collective that is the Western Isles/the Outer Hebrides. It was finally happing. I was on my way to the Outer Hebrides! This will now be the furthest North and West that I will have been whilst still in the UK. It will all be new from here on in.
I had a meeting tomorrow on the Isle of Lewis, so it made sense to head north once we had docked in Tarbert. This was the central town between North and South Harris. Heading north took me over the more mountainous region that is the Isle of Harris before heading into the Isle of Lewis (they are joined, there is no geographical divide). If what I saw on the journey up to Stornaway, this looks like it will be an awesome road trip. The terrain and landscape were so varied just on this 90minute drive. I can’t wait to start exploring it more fully!
After a much calmers night stopover near the main harbour in Stornaway, it was time to get the business aspect of the trip out of the way. All went well, so I was now free to roam the islands to my heart’s delight.
Seemed to make sense to start at the top of the Western Isles and gradually work my way down. With this in mind, and feeling a bit like lunchtime to me, I headed off to Port of Ness. This was pretty much at the top of the Isle of Lewis and would make a good starting point for my road trip in the outer Hebrides.
Found myself a good little cafe for lunch and coffee with a small garden area overlooking the very picturesque Port of Ness harbour. It was good to take some time out and just relax for a bit as it had been pretty hectic over the last few days. This was a perfect spot to unwind and take in the glorious surroundings.
Butt of Lewis
As I was in the area, it made sense to visit the Butt of Lewis lighthouse. Love lighthouses, very cool pieces of architectural design built in some of the most challenging locations. Amazing feats of engineering to get them built in the first place. Then, of course, they have to survive the worst of all possible weather conditions!
The Butt of Lewis is the most northerly point of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The headland, which lies in the North Atlantic, is frequently battered by heavy swells and storms and is marked by the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. It is claimed that the Butt of Lewis is one of the windiest locations in the United Kingdom.
It had been a pretty cool start to my time on the Isle of Lewis. It was great to take a late afternoon walk along Eoropie beach in the golden hour sunshine. Life felt good, not a care in the world. I had the whole beach to myself. I loved just listening to the clear turquoise green Atlantic waves come crashing in on the golden sand. The perfect end to a great day.
All I had to do now was find a new place to wild camp in the bus for the night…