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Outer Hebrides 1997 South Harris

I never intended

to be here, it simply happened. After some amazing days in the Black Cuillins of Skye Uig seemed to be the end of the world. A small harbour town, looking a bit sad.In the office I booked a return ticked to Tarbert on Harris, one of the isles of the Outer Hebrides. Being on the afternoon ferry involved a 11km walk from Tarbert to the Stockinish Youth Hostel and surely a late arrival long after sunset. On board I tried to get a lift but everyone seemed to go north from Tarbert. After giving up on asking a guy came to me telling me he had been very lucky that day. He'd been on holiday abroad and arrived by plane in London this morning from which he drove like a maniac to catch the ferry to Tarbert just in time. Because he had been lucky he felt like transferring that luck to someone else. He told me he was the caretaker at the Callanish Standing Stones so actually he had to go north but didn't mind driving an extra 25km. Scottish hospitality is really a great thing.The road on the eastcoast south of Tarbert is known as 'The Golden Road' because it was so expensive to build and I was glad I didnt have to drive this small, twisting, up and down road in the dark. used to be a primary school and was empty apart from two brothers who where birdwatching and hoping to shoot pictures of golden eagles. A strong, fresh northeasterly wind was blowing as I set out the next morning to walk to the westcoast over the Bealach Eorabhat. From the map I learned that Harris only consists of rock, heather and water. From being there I learned that it has thousands of variations of brown and grey, moody colours for the dead that where carried through the bealach to be buried in the less rocky ground of the westcoast. An hour and a half later I reached the summit of the bealach. Soon the westcoast came in sight. The Thraigh Losgaintir is a huge tidal area and is protected from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean by sanddunes and a 200m wide and 3km long sandy beach. Even more than the mediterranean feel of the beach I was totally struck by thebluegreen colour of the sea. The intensity of it was enormous. I sat down, protected by the dunes from the cold wind, and felt enormously happy. Although I my intention had been to walk to the Clach Mhic Leoid, a standing stone, I stayed at the beach for fourhours before returning to the hostel. I used a more northerly trackfor my return and was totally flabbergasted by the rusty equipmentleft behind at an abandoned quarry. The contrast with the beauty ofthe beach was really shocking and a disgracefull eyesore. buscompany to get back to Tarbert the next morning. The busdriver played gaelic music. A woman was singing in Gaelic, unaccompanied by any instrument. It opened up my soul and stirred my deepest feelings, even typing this I feel emotional and moved to tears.I stayed one night at Ratagan YH (Shiel Bridge) and climbed Ben Nevis on my way home but my flash visit to Harris will always be in my memory. Perhaps I'll return sometime to spend more time in the Outer Hebrides, on the edge of the world.


The Stockinish hostel

I used a local

Bealach Eorabhat

Traigh Sheileboist


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