Western Isles Trip 2013
For the 2013 Sabre Scottish Trip, we decided upon something a little different. Rather than mad dashes around the Highlands, from one Bunkhouse to the next, a cottage was booked in the picturesque port of Tarbert on Harris, which would make a base for the week whilst exploring the Outer Hebrides.
Day 1 - To Harris
After driving up to Ullapool on the Friday, the English contingent were met by Glen and Rileyrob at the ferry port on the Saturday Morning. The 10:25 sailing to Stornoway was booked, and we were raring to go. Unfortunately, no one had booked the weather, and the crossing was rough to say the least. Only one member failed to retain his breakfast though, and three hours later we were unloading at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
A quick pit stop at Tescos and we were off, heading south on the incredible A859 to our cottage. The weather was still grey and miserable, but soon after arriving in Tarbert it started to brighten up, and so we went for a walk around the village, taking in the full length of the A868 as we went.
After tea in the village pub, we headed south west to the West Harris Coast to catch the sunset - the most successful attempt of the week - from the shore near Horgabost.
Day 2 - B Roads on Harris & Lewis
As Glen had failed to book the whole week off work, we had to get him back to Stornoway on the Sunday to catch the lunchtime ferry. This did, however, give us a few hours of exploring time first. We set off west onto the B887, and travelled out to the far end, stopping along the way, not least at Loch Leosavay to get photos of the stream cascading into the loch. At the far end, we stopped at Huisnis and crossed the isthmus to see the isle of Scarp, famous for the Rocket Post Trials.
Back east and onto the A859 northwards, before heading east on the B8060, again to the very end. We then took the minor road through Liurbost before completing the B897 as we headed into Stornoway. After unceremoniously dumping Glen at the ferry, we headed east on the A866 to the end, including a stop at Tiumpan Head Lighthouse. Then it was north again, and out on the B895, through Col, Bac and Tolsta to the stunning beaches at the end, and the Bridge to Nowhere.
Day 3 - Walking and Scalpay
The forecast suggested that Monday would be the best day of the week, so we were planning to climb Clisham, the highest peak on Harris, and indeed the whole of the Western Isles. In the end, Paul and Haydn chickened out, and instead enjoyed a lower-level coastal walk from Reinigeadal back to Tarbert. Rob and Matt made it to the top however, and spent nearly an hour at the summit waiting for the clouds to clear for a good photo of the islands spread out below. The clouds weren't being very helpful, however, and so they headed down, making it back to the cottage about 15 minutes after Paul and Haydn.
After watching the Uig ferry come and go again, Rob decided to cycle out to Scalpay, along the C78 and over the Scalpay Bridge. The others decided to follow in the car, but they missed each other on Scalpay, and Rob was nearly back in Tarbert before the car caught him up!
Day 4 - West Lewis
After a quick cycle from Tarbert to the B887 and back for Rob, we all set off north on the A859 to Liurbost, where we took the is-it-isn't-it A858 west and then the B8011 out to Uig. Continuing on the minor roads, we reached the very end at Mealasta, before turning back and detouring along most of the other minor roads on our way back towards civilisation. This included the road out to the former RAF base at Aird Uig, now a rather scary place. We also took the B8059 over to Great Bernera and continued out to the Iron Age House in the dunes at the far north of the island.
Heading back, we took the A858 a little further west, stopping at Callanais Standing Stones, before reaching the islands only GSJ at Carloway, and taking the Pentland Road, former B8012 back to Stornoway. A stop at the Co-op yielded us with some tea, and so back to the cottage.
Day 5 - The Golden Road
Today was a lazy day, setting off late and heading south to pick up the C79 Golden Road around the eastern coast of Harris. This road is a stunning route, taking in some very remote beaches and bays, and at one point we spent quite some time watching some seals on the rocks, hoping they would slip into the water, but alas not. We continued south, to Rodel at the end of the A859, stopped at the famous church, and then into Leverburgh / An t-Ob for some lunch. Whilst it was dry-ish, the wind was strong, and so we didn't feel like stopping too much on the west coast as we headed back up the A859
Day 6 - North Lewis
After Glen arrived on the ferry from Uig, we set off north, heading straight up the A859 and then the A857 to the Butt of Lewis, the far northern end of the islands. A quick windswept stop at the Lighthouse, and then back south, detouring off to get some coastal shots. The Norse Mill in the dunes was another short stop, and then down to the Blackhouse village and Museum at Na Gearrannan. The final tourist stop of the day was the Dun Carloway Broch, and then we detoured up the former B8010, and back down the other arm of the is-is-isn't-it A858 and so back to Tarbert.
Day 7 - The Uists
Perhaps the highlight of the week. Certainly the earliest start, as we had the 8:25 Sound of Harris Ferry to catch from An t-Ob. An hour later, and we were on Berneray, and soon over the Berneray Causeway to North Uist. We went the long way round the island on the A865 and round to the North Ford Causeway, stopping off at the Baleshare Causeway along the way. On the way to Benbecula we took a loop around Grimsay.
After Looping round Benbecula on the B892, we took in the B893 to St Peters Port before stopping at the Co-op for lunch. It was then over the South Ford Causeway to South Uist, and on down the A865 and B888 to try and catch a glimpse of the Sound of Barra Ferry. We just made it, and then continued over the Eriskay Causeway to the ferry port at the end of the island.
Running short of time now, we made a quick detour into Lochboisdale for the end of the A865, and then a quick blast north, with just enough time to take in the B890 before taking the direct A865 route across Benbecula. Sadly, as we reached North Uist once more, time was running too short for the B894, or even the A865 into Lochmaddy, and so we made it back to Berneray for the ferry with just a few minutes to spare.
Day 8 - Homeward Bound
After packing up and vacating the cottage by 10am, we had an hour to kill wandering around Tarbert in intermittent showers. Then it was aboard the ferry, and off, waving a fond farewell to these beautiful islands, and all vowing to return soon. The crossing to Skye was a millpond compared to the Stornoway route a week before, and soon we were in Uig, reuniting Glen with his car. North around the A855 on Trotternish and after quick stops at the Quiraing and Kilt Rock, we said our goodbyes at Broadford. Rob was heading back home to Lochaber, whilst the rest of the group were heading east over the A86 to Dunkeld for the night, hoping to meet Burns, CBA1 and maybe some others before heading back home on Sunday.
|Western Isles Trip 2013|