Outer Hebrides of Scotland
I’ve just been on my first trip to the Outer Hebrides to visit Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Harris, and a tiny bit of Lewis. It might have been Summer, but there was plenty of fierce wind, and quite a bit of rain, so it was great weather for knitwear! The colours were spectacular, even with the clouds.
Camping on Barra, Benbecula, North Uist and Harris
It was a camping holiday- I really love sleeping in tents, and being able to set up home right on a beach. If you’re planning a trip and want a campsite that’s really nice, I recommend Croft no. 2 on Barra, and Moorcroft on North Uist. Horgabost campsite on Harris is right on the beach, but the facilities are a bit more basic, and less fun when it’s raining. We also had a few nights of wild camping, on Eriskay and Berneray- Eriskay in particular was wonderful, as there was no one else there, and as we ate supper (one of out rain and wind free evenings), and otter worked his way across the bay.
When wild camping, I’ve discovered my blanket scarf makes an excellent pillow! Just one more use for it!
Beautiful clear waters and colours
I love being on the coast- and the beaches are hard to beat. There are too many amazing beaches to mention, although Luskentyre is really spectacular with the river of deeper blue running through the turquoise waters (that was the first photo). Maybe because I didn’t get to see it in sunshine, but I actually preferred spending time on smaller, less visited beaches, that still have the white sands and beautiful clear water, but you’re more likely to have them to yourself!
Exploring the History and Archaeology of the Outer Hebrides
There is so much fascinating history and archeology in the outer Hebrides- from brochs, duns, chambered cairns, standing stone and stone circles, to iron age villages houses, viking villages, and then the history of the people, crofting, music and storytelling, and craftsmanship.
We visited so many duns and stone circles- which intrigue me so much. As there wasn’t much wood available on the islands, dwellings and monuments were built out of stone, which is why there is much more evidence of neolithic society in the Hebrides than anywhere else. There is quite a well preserved broch on Lewis that’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area, and not far away from the Callanish stones.
There’s also a dun on a little loch on North Uist, on the road to Berneray- the causeway over to it is still intact, and you can walk out to it. I was amazed at the amount of wool in the loch, washing up on the stones to make them look felted!
Craftsmanship on Grimsay
These photos of boats are from the Grimsay boat house- it’s well worth popping into, and has the history of a boat building family and tradition on the island. It’s in what looks like a run down shed, but the door is open and there are some great information boards in there. It’s across the road from Uist Wool, which is probably the easiest way to find it!
Uist Wool is also a must see- a community project, it’s a fantastic mill set up to process and spin local wool. The shop has a beautiful selection of yarns in natural shades, all spun on the premises, and a lovely range of products made with it. You can also see how the yarn has been spun, on some beautiful old machinery, with some ingenious sections added so that it all works in the space.
There are so many examples of craftsmanship on the islands, and these are just two examples of it!
A few other recommendations…
In no particular order:
Croft 36 on Harris- great homemade pies and bread, with an honesty box system. Well worth popping in if you’re passing!
The Blue Pig Studio in Carloway, Lewis- some lovely artworks, and handmade soap with beautiful scents from essential oils, but best of all is the friendly welcome and interesting conversation. We were offered tea and cake, and left with lots of interesting things to think about (as well as a lot of soap and a lovely harris tweed bag with the best button I’ve seen in ages).
If you’re in North Uist on a Tuesday, head to Sollas in the evening for some dancing- it’s a mix of ceilidh, country dance and old time, all the dances are called, and it’s friendly! The music is recorded, but if you’re not in the right place at the right time for a ceilidh, this is a great option.
There is also a fabulous bookbinder in Sollas- Sollas Bookbinding, part of “Art on the Map”- she makes gorgeous sketchbooks (one is now mine) and notebooks. It’s worth popping into the Art on the Map places- all with signs outside as you travel around.
The Hut of Shadows on North Uist- an artwork/ monument that reflects the landscape outside onto a wall inside.
Have clothing for all weathers, and midge repellent!