Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Uists and Barra - The Secret Is Out

I am no stranger to the Outer Hebrides, the chain of islands that guard north-west Scotland against the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean. For their geographical position makes them prime territory for emergency landfall by lost American migrant birds. This same geography makes for a stunningly beautiful chain of islands, their Atlantic western shoreline dotted with stunning beaches, their leeward east coast more mountainous, a patchwork of lochans, moorland and rocky inlets.

My visits to the Outer Hebrides have thus far been limited to mad dashes to see some very rare birds. A long overnight drive, usually to the small port of Uig on the Isle of Skye, but occasionally to Oban or Ullapool. A ferry across The Minch. A mad dash to see the bird.
The ferry timetable usually necessitates an overnight stay on these wonderful isles and then it's time for the return journey.

Even with such brief visits, any twitch to the Outer Hebrides is much looked forward to since they have become my favourite place to visit in Britain.

Sue and I used to travel abroad almost every holiday (one benefit of teaching as a career), but since our decision to start a smallholding opportunities for holidays together have been limited. Once in seven years to be exact and that was our honeymoon.
So when a friend offered to look after the farm for a few days we jumped at the chance to celebrate our third anniversary with a few days away and I decided to reveal the secret of the Outer Hebrides to Sue, who has only been once before when I dragged her away from a boxing day meal to go and see a Killdeer! The weather that day was awful and it wasn't the ideal introduction to the islands.

We booked up a B&B that accepted dogs. This would be a great experience for Boris and Arthur.

And so last week the day came. We packed everything into the car and embarked on an 18 hour journey to our temporary new home. The dogs coped admirably with by far their longest ever trip. A few breaks for walkies, a couple of power naps for me and 555 miles later we were at the ferry terminal. It was a gorgeous morning and the ferry crossing was like gliding across a mirror. We had the whole doggy area of the boat to ourselves and the Calmac full breakfast was as good as it always is. It is something of an institution.

And now for the pictures.  The scenery was stunning, the people friendly and the weather glorious. The dogs had an amazing time and were absolute stars everywhere we took them.

We had an amazing week but it is nice to now be back on the smallholding, digging out two new ponds in the rain!
And I guess the secret of The Outer Hebrides is out now. Just don't tell anyone else or they'll all be going there.

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