The next destination on the Hebridean adventure was the Isle of Harris, home to a rich history, the famous Harris Tweed and fantastic mountain scenery.
Having spent the night wild camping near on the coast on Berneray, I packed up before driving over to Lochmaddy where I was to get the ferry across the Sound of Harris to the Island, which technically isn’t an island as it is connected by land to Lewis.
Later on my ferry arrived to take me away to Harris where the views of its mountain range were on full display. It wasn’t long after I left the ferry that I noticed a large bird of prey soaring over a wooded area. Seeming to be much larger than a buzzard, I stopped the car and grabbed the binoculars only to see the beautiful sight of a golden eagle soaring majestically above. A great sign, and already I knew I was going to love Harris!
The museum was small but full of books, photographs and even a film about St Kilda and how they survived on the island in pretty harsh conditions. It went on to explain the run up to their evacuation in the 1930 which brought an end to island being inhabited as it had been for many years. It is a sad story really but there is something so enchanting and fascinating about the island I just wanted to read more about it and one day go there. It is now a nature reserve that houses a huge bird colony and you can take a rib boat there as part of the wild life tours.
With my belly full and energy levels up there was only one thing to do next and that was to climb the Outer Hebrides highest peak – An Cliseam (799m). The peak itself dominates the landscape as is identifiable by its cone shape. I parked up, grabbed the map and began to ascend. The going is fairly steep with the walk in quite marshy, which then leads to a steep incline which is rather rocky and it is a fair scramble at the top. There are other routes up which are easier but take longer so I continued with the direct ‘straight up’ route. As I climbed I kept checking the skies for eagles and to take in the breath taking views around me. Before long I was at the top and the views were out of this world.
To add to this experience I then noticed a sort of silhouette way out to the west, taking to my binoculars I realised, with extreme excitement, that it was in fact St Kilda in all its mystical glory. This, I found out later, is not a common event as conditions need to be perfect in order to see it from the Outer Hebrides which made it all the more magical an experience.
As we chatted we discovered that we were actually from the North West of the UK, which goes to show what a small world it is! After we took photos for each other we said our farewells and I made my way down back to the car, spotting a sea eagle on the descent.
The road ended at another gorgeous beach toward the south and here there was a large flat grassed area that over looked the cliffs. I pitched in what seemed to be in a massive warren as there were little rabbits hopping around everywhere. They didn’t seem to mind me being there so I pitched up, had dinner and sat in the chair watching the gannets dive-bombing out to sea and read a book about St Kilda that I had got from the museum earlier as the sky turned from pink to a rich gold as the sun set.
I've not only gained some great memories, explore amazing areas and experienced what nature has to offer on this island...
I've also gained a rather fabulous Harris Tweed handbag!