Today is the day we leave the Uists behind and start our new adventure on Lewis and Harris.  However, the ferry doesn’t leave until 5.20pm so there is still time to see what else North Uist has to offer.

The weather is pretty bad today with grey skies and intermittent rain, but there is one road that we haven’t investigated yet (an indication of just how few roads there are on the islands).   It is the road that runs alongside Loch Portain in the main and winds its way across the moors, culminating in Tobh Beag.  First of all, a necessary stop for provisions at the Clachan Stores which is a PO and very general stores.  In a window next to the shop was this cat who I couldn’t resist photographing.  It wasn’t until we looked at the photo later that we realised that there was another small furry animal tucked into the cat’s side!  Please double-click this photo and there’ll be a prize (well, at least a ‘congratulations’) if you can work out what it is.  My best guess is a guinea pig but see what you think.  Whatever it is, it makes for a very sweet relationship…


Once the necessary “heavy duty” clothes pegs were purchased (and believe me, you need heavy duty out here) we took the turning on to the Loch Portain road.  Here are some photos to show our progress along this narrow (very at times) road.



Springtime is traditionally a time for new families and these Greylag parents were showing off their new goslings.


Not to be outdone, the Mute Swan parents in the featured image above were out for a spin with their new cygnets.


The road started climbing rapidly…


and we were soon on top of the world (well, quite high anyway).


Something to eat and then it was down again.


It was time to wend our way towards Berneray and the ferry.  We got there in plenty of time and the ‘Loch Portain’ (very appropriate) was waiting.  Luckily, as by now the weather was pretty awful – misty, raining and windy – the ship had a largish lounge inside and, as we were one of first on board, we managed to get up to the lounge fairly quickly.  We shared a table with a lady on her own and it wasn’t long before we were sharing experiences of holidays in the Hebrides.  She knew Brian, the Corncrake man and had been on an Otter Walk with him.  We told her that we were driving straight up to our campsite in North West Lewis and she said that we would find the journey a bit “grim”.

It was so unfortunate that the weather was bad as apparently this particular voyage is wonderful in good weather – passing many small islands glittering like jewels in the sea etc. etc.  The mist made it impossible to see anything and we just hoped the captain knew his way blindfold!  It took just one hour to reach the port of Leverburgh in Harris.

An historical note:  Lord Leverhulme was a big name in the islands in the early part of the 20th century and the port was named after him after he purchased South Harris for £36,000 in 1920.  He was a benevolent man and intended to make Leverburgh into a major fish processing plant, employing hundreds of local men to build a new pier etc. for the expected herring trawlers, with the fish being processed and sent off to his new chain of fish shops, namely Mac Fisheries.  It was extremely successful when it started landing the herring in 1924 but unfortunately for Harris, Lord Leverhulme died suddenly of pneumonia in 1925 and his executors were not at all interested in his project.  The 33,000 acres were sold for just £900 and the pier itself for £5,000.

We were first off the boat – slightly worryingly the hydraulic ramp actually started lowering before we had reached the slipway!


Our acquaintance on the ferry had been quite right when she described the journey to Lewis as a bit “grim”.  At first, even through the mist, we could see wonderful butter-coloured sandy beaches and a sea that was amazingly pale turquoise…




The road along the coast and lochs became quite scary as we rose higher and higher and there were hardly any barriers to prevent you dropping off the edge if you made a false move!

We entered a world of looming granite cliffs that seemed to want to enclose Bessie as we made our way through them on the narrow road.

I have to say that by the time we reached our campsite two hours later I was definitely on the edgy side…

I did not have a good night’s sleep.  😦