Friday, 8 June 2012

108 Continuing the Islands

Continuing with the end of Tuesday 5th, we had decided to book our next ferries as turning up ad hoc had not proved too fruitful.  That said, we are up at five in the morning for the 7.15am ferry to Harris.

Just as a distraction, here's a photo we forgot to put in. We thought it was nice and the blog is for us to remember too. It is on the road towards Oban.

The road bridge at Connel. Only 150 miles away from where we are now.
Wednesday 6th June.
Harris is as wild and beautiful again and Ray says it is very similar to the Falkland Islands including the peat farming. The whole of the Outer Hebrides is made up of either peat, rock or sand. As a result the islanders farm the peat for winter fire fuel. They have a patch allocated to them and simply remove the top layer of heather and then cut strips of the peat underneath and stand them up to dry. They then collect them up and store them at their houses. The original removed heather is replaced behind them to reinstate the landscape.

Peat slices stood up to dry. Apparently it stinks when burned.
We came across a group of 'tree huggers' (people out on a wildlife field trip). We decided to be nosy and see what they were looking at and found a group of small lakes joined with stepping stones so needless to say we had to test them out.  When Ray says tree huggers he wasn't joking as we over heard one man, who was on his knees with his nose in the grass shouting "who wants to see some mongi fungi?"  It takes all sorts I suppose.

Tiptoe through the stepping stones......
We found a campsite (a real one) next to a beach and parked up. This site was just outside Uig on Lewis whhich had no electric, but did have showers and water so it was just a step up from wild camping. The wind was a usual feature and this is Karen rubbing her hands together, not praying for better weather as it looks.  

I don't understand, it's really sunny and I am freezing.
 We walked the length of the almost deserted beach and on the way back the temperature actually rose and the wind started to die down. (Perhaps she was praying after all ??). The campsite can be seen in the distance.

Barbados minus about 30 degrees.

 We had bought a book on the walks of Harris and Lewis and decided on a couple for the next couple of days.

Thursday 7th June.

This morning, the wind has died down totally, the sun is out and so are the shorts and t shirts for our first walk to visit an iron age home up in the hills.  We set off on a relatively level gradient and then Ray decided that maps are boring and we shot off up hill.  I also nose dived the ground and lost my left foot in a swamp, so that makes us one all on getting wet feet.  However all is forgiven as the views were wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed it, ....once it was over.....

A short break on our walk

The white house was about half way.

Home sweet home

We chased around for the next campsite and found one outside of Stornaway.  I spoke with my Mum on the phone and was telling her all about the good weather we were having and laughing about the amber alert on the mainland.  Big mistake, huge!  We put our little tent up, sat in it for about an hour, got very worried by the wind that was pulling it about and ended up taking it back down.  Didn't bother us for sleeping in the tent though. 

Friday 8th June.

Well, it is very gray today, seriously windy and cold.  We decided not to let it bother us too much though and went of to visit the Butt of Lewis. It really is called that.  We passed through lots more desolate countryside and finally reached our destination. We got out to have a better look and as can be seen from the way my hair is standing straight, the wind was fierce.

Who needs hairdryers

The lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis.

Leaning into the wind.

But the wind produced this beautiful scenery
We are at present sitting in the only pub in a forty mile radius and are thinking about heading to the Lewis version of Stonehenge.

Decision made, we are off to the Standing Stones at Callanish. It is not known why these were built but they had several modifications (stones added) over the centuries leading up to the birth of Christ. In the center was a burial chamber but this was added about 2600 BC whereas the original stones were erected about 2900 BC.

The Standing Stones at Callanish. Better than the last set we saw above.
To give some idea of the size of these stones, Karen has graciously agreed to pose behind one.
She's there somewhere...
 Whilst impressive, they are not a patch on Stonehenge, but, you can at least get up close to these and have a proper look.

The center stone at the burial chamber.
The view from the Standing Stones.
The long and winding road.....To Stornoway.
When we eventually arrived back at our campsite after the usual dragging of Ray around Tescos and the obligatory pub stop to compensate for Tescos, we got back to the campsite to find that someone had stolen our pitch. On crying to the manager, he realized that he had made a cock up and we ended up being camped in the middle of the car park where the last electric point was. Karen was not amused but soon got over it. However, we are now the center of attention and I think like goldfish in a bowl. Karen thinks we are just an exhibit.
I am quite happy as we have been compensated with a nice bottle of wine, (I am cheap). Ray however is distraught as it is not his usual "Quality wine, Liebfraumilch".

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