Wild Western Isles

Change is constant

Having left Luskentyre and Seilebost beach in ‘variable’ weather conditions, once I was on the road again, it wasn’t long before the weather changed again to become a beautiful sunny afternoon. You never can tell. Oh well, it made for a beautiful drive around the southern coast of Harris as I looked for a place to wild camp for the night.

love the wild rugged landscape
love the wild rugged landscape

En route, I took the opportunity to stock up on a few supplies at a local independent shop. Always good to support local and independent where possible. It wasn’t long after this that I found a great little spot by the sea for the night. This time, my only neighbours were the usual random passing sheep and the occasional rabbit. My perfect kind of spot. I put the kettle on and whilst relaxing and taking in the view, I happened to spy some dolphins enjoying their afternoon swim in the sun! I will need to add them to the amazing wildlife I have inadvertently stumbled across on my road trip this far.

not a bad spot to stopover for the night
not a bad spot to stopover for the night

Berneray bound

My fledgling plan was to try and catch the morning ferry across the Sound of Harris from Leverburgh to Berneray. This sea channel separates Lewis and Harris from the lower part of the Hebridean archipelago. It’s approximately 8 miles across with numerous reefs and small islands dotted across it. This leads to a whole new section of islands in the Outer Hebrides to explore.

ferry across the Sound of Harris from Leverburgh to Berneray
ferry across the Sound of Harris from Leverburgh to Berneray

Morning came early, as I was woken by the telltale pitter-patter of rain on the campers metal roof. I knew once again the weather had changed overnight. It looks like it’s going to be another changeable kind of weather day again. Time for breakfast and a brew then head off down to Leverburgh ferry port. I wanted to get in line for an unbooked ferry crossing space. I got to the ferry port nice and early so was at the front of the no ticket queue waiting for the ferry to come in. It’s good that most of the ferry ports so far, to varying degrees, have had facilities at them (WiFi, toilets, seating/waiting area and sometimes even a cafe). Once again, the ferry staff are always very helpful, there was space on board and I got myself a ticket for the crossing.

the ferry to Berneray arrives at Leverburgh for disembarkation
the ferry to Berneray arrives at Leverburgh for disembarkation

An hour into the crossing, and what was this? A yellow firey orb in the sky? Could this be the sun I see trying to break through? Things had weather-wise changed once again. Disembarking from the ferry, it seemed like everyone was heading left? I guess that Berneray is a pretty small island, so most people were keen to get on to the bigger Island or North Uist? However, I decided to turn right and explore Berneray a little bit first.

Good to listen

My wife Lorna is not with me on this road trip, so we catch up regularly on the phone or text. I happened to mention that I had just seen a small flock of all black sheep a little while ago. She loves sheep, probably because she’s a subversive textile artist (click here to check out her website) that challenges preconceptions of knitting and crochet. The next question was ‘have I got any pictures of them?’ Doh! Fortunately, I hadn’t travelled too far on from there, so I turned around to get a picture for her of the Black Hebridean sheep.

some Black Hebridean sheep for Lorna
some Black Hebridean sheep for Lorna

I happened to notice that the small area I had chosen to pull over and turn around in was called ‘Seal viewing point’ and as I looked up from the sign, you guessed it, a harbour seal was living his best life out on the rocks in the bay! What were the chances of that? I reckon he must have been on the council payroll to bask out on the rocks all day in case people like me happened to pass by. Good job I listened to Lorna and went back for the picture of the sheep, otherwise, I would have missed seeing the seal as well.

a Harbour seal living the dream on the rocks
a Harbour seal living the dream on the rocks

Explore local

Beneray had a small traditional fishing harbour and a good little independent shop and bistro restaurant. I liked the idea that they offered fish and chips on a Friday, but you had to book it first. At least that way you knew it was going to be fresh. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t Friday.

Berneray harbour seafood net cages
Berneray harbour seafood net cages

Having already seen the famous Black houses of Gearrannan on Lewis, it was interesting to see more of the traditional architecture in normal use using the same robust stone wall and thatched roof techniques for this very picturesque cottage by the sea. Good to see local traditions being kept alive.

robust traditional stone wall and thatched cottage by the sea
robust traditional stone wall and a thatched cottage by the sea

Location location

After a little more exploration and I found myself a decent beachside spot for tonight’s stopover. It was early in the afternoon, so time for a break and some (late) lunchtime food. The one thing against this cunning plan was the weather. It was a great location but it was right by the sea’s edge, which meant being more exposed to the elements.

spot the hidden camper competition entry
spot the hidden camper competition entry

I remembered the windy night at Staffin, so I thought I still had plenty of daylight. Maybe I should push on and look for somewhere a bit more sheltered for the night? A quick look out through the window suggested this might be a better time for driving rather than relaxing by the sea.

the sea’s out there somewhere
the sea’s out there somewhere

Whilst enjoying my coffee, the weather showed no sign of abating. It’s good to be flexible, so decision made, time to head on to another new island, North Uist it is then. This time, however, no need to worry about booking ferries, or crossing bridges.

driving through the sea via a cool causeway
driving through the sea via a cool causeway

Cool Causeway

There was a causeway that links Berneray to North Uist. This allows you to effectively drive through the sea. How cool is that? So a smooth driving transition between the two islands. Now I just need to find myself a spot to camp over for the night…

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4 thoughts on “Wild Western Isles”

  1. I follow you. And we have exchanged in the past. But my WordPress site is as complicated as usual. I am, officially, a technophobe. 🙄 So followed this link.

    Good to read your progress in the new VeeDub. I understand the reality of a more robust and reliable ride. 50 to 100 miles around my own local Welsh mountain roads in my ‘72 Crossover and I’m crossing my fingers on the avoidance of various possible conundrums. Really happy you still have the Split though. Priceless. Looks like a decent well described adventure. Still see an amazing vibe about your experiences with my own. My wife has her own business here in Wales. And the Celtic traditions, Scotland/Wales surround. Good fortune. Enjoy life. All the best. 👍

    Reply
    • Thanks. 🙂 Yeah, very different experience in a T4, but still fun. Road trips are all about what you do, where you go, the experiences you have and the memories you make… not the vehicle you drive. I’m learning this 😉 The Split is still my first choice camper mind you 😆

      I want to come over to Wales in the near future, not been for a good few years!

      Reply
      • Next week a couple of friends are picking up a couple of fold down bikes from us. They want them for their T4. When we meet up with them in the future, either next to a lake, by the sea or anywhere that gives a place to put the kettle on and unwind ? Well…..we won’t be discussing the buses. We’ll be enjoying, as you said, the chances of providing future cherished memories through the experiences of what being out there in the countryside. All the best. 👍

        Reply

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