Sunday, August 27, 2006


I took the ferry to Barra on Tuesday afternoon. Lord of the Isles (fantastic name for a ferry, also an old position originating in the period of Norse control) put in at South Uist that day as well, so the ferry did not pull in to Castlebay until nearly eleven o'clock pm! Fortunately, buildings on the isles are hardly ever locked, and the hostel owners had left the lodge open for us. It was such a clean, fresh, comfortable room, and I woke up Wednesday morning to the sight of two sheep staring at my window.

I was a bit ambitious, I'll admit, and thought I might bike around Barra in a day. I might have actually accomplished it (the West coast is more machair than rock, which means its a bit less hilly), but I decided to go to Vatersay first, and the first HUGE hill rather killed me. So I fell asleep on one of Vatersay's nice beaches for an hour, visited a bronze-age wheelhouse ruin, and watched the sheep. Then that evening I went for a walk over to the west coast (lets face it, I'm a walker, not a biker), saw the machair and visited another beach. It was great on that beach, I saw the sun start to set. There were only a handfull of human footprints on that beach, but plenty of cow prints! Whoever said cows can't appreciate a sunny day on the beach? It is open grazing on most of the islands, so animals were on the road or beaches almost as often as they were behind fences.

In the highlands you can pretty much camp wherever you like, so wherever I walked I'd see little tents set up in the most beautiful little hollows near the beaches, sometimes with highland cows were peering curiously over the fences at people getting supper. I really, really, *really* have to come back here with a motorcycle and a tent. It seems like the most fantastic way to discover Scotland.

The sheep in the picture is rambling over the ancient wheelhouse - those creatures have no respect for pre-historic sites. The other is a picture taken on the west coast of Barra.

No comments: