Previous Days – WALKS ON NORTH UIST (North Lee)
Day 3: A walk on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches – Traigh Iar ( pron.try ee-ar)
Gorgeous sunny day, forecast good all day.Beach walk time – a LONG one!
Got the tent packed up after the usual breakfast of gallons of tea and some tinned grapefruit.I was really keen to do a long loop out to the big strands beyond Sollas but first of all, the tiny hill Beinn Mhor (all of 190m) beckoned, just behind the beach.
Parked at an abandoned empty house on the main road then made our way up the rough moorland, following sheep tracks. Came across a small herd of red deer hinds feeding higher up, very wary of us and they soon took off, bounding gracefully up and over the summit.
In 30 minutes we were up and were greeted with another superb view!
Crescents of white sand ringed the coastline and offshore islets, Harris’s hills were crystal clear and we spied St Kilda on the horizon.
North and South Lee were clear too.
Sat for twenty minutes just enjoying our vantage point, in the silence, just the sound of an occasional curlew calling far below.
It was difficult to leave that high point but Traigh Iar was calling, which would make a nice round of 6 miles or so.Spotted a Red Grouse on the descent too, always nice to see them.
Another 25 minutes driving along N.Uist’s lovely north west corner and we were at Sollas, passing a well photographed traditional croft house at the huge sands at Vallay which is now a holiday let.
I wouldn’t say the settlements around Sollas are pretty as such, a tad unkempt in my eyes, though there are some nice houses too. Parked at the Co-op car park and set off along a good track towards the beach. Had to negotiate the first ‘hurdle’ – an open field with a huge bull lying beside the track! I always feel tense even though Chris reassures me, and sure enough it barely lifted its enormous head as we passed. My Dad always used to say that a cow with a calf was far more dangerous than a bull but I’d noticed plenty of those in the herd too!
Anyway, we made it in one piece and headed for the dunes and a break in the marram grass. Suddenly we were on the truly huge crescent of dazzling white shell sand of ‘West Beach.’
It was astonishingly beautiful under clear blue skies and there wasn’t a soul around. We strolled round the bay then made our way up onto an emerald spit of land giving views over the turquoise seas and the lagoon beach at Grenitote.
We could even make out Lingeigh beach and the small hill we’d been on earlier.
It was another of those moments when I just felt so lucky to be seeing this stunning place at its very best. In June, the machair flowers are beginning to colour the grasslands….clover, tormentil, buttercup, cowslip, marsh orchid, eyebright, bird’s foot trefoil, lady’s bedstraw, vetch…..The air becomes heavily fragrant with them.
The walk took us across another beach then over a second headland and alongside the ancient Viking ruins of Udal.We could make out the walls of houses; shell middens are visible too.
Finally, the long stroll back beside the lagoon beach.This whole area , on a fine day, is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen anywhere in the world.Glorious.
In the three hours or so we walked here, we saw 4 other people and they were in the distance.
A last mile along the main road and we were back at the car. What an wonderful walk on some of North Uist’s most spectacular beaches, on an island where just about every beach is a stunner.
Headed south towards Balranald RSPB reserve, where our B and B awaited. Oh the joy of a shower and comfy room! Wild camping is such a special experience, I would never give that up but it IS tiring, you are out in the elements from early doors till evening.
Effie Macquien’s house was lovely with views over the moorland and surrounded by an immaculate garden. Popped open the champers and drank to a superb few days on Uibhist a Tuath (Gaelic for North Uist).
Chatted to Effie, a retired teacher on South Uist who had known Chris’s two older brothers many decades ago! Small world. Chris and his brothers were brought up on South Uist where his father was the doctor for thirty years.
Had a bit of a rush to get to our 6.30pm dinner booking at Langass Lodge but made it.
I love Langass, though whether the welcome will be up to what you would expect from a fairly upmarket Lodge hotel, is never certain. It was the owner herself who greeted us, an attractive, upper crust blonde lady. We were given a barely discernible (but there) once over then led down into the Conservatory bar, a really lovely space overlooking the garden and Eaval. It was a glorious evening, very sunny, with great light.
Mine hostess showed us into the empty dining area and said she was giving us the best table. That was bizarre right away because we’ve often sat at that table and there are actually two with a slightly better view of the garden and the hill. The place was empty.Another couple arrived and were seated at the table next to ours which actually had the best view. They were residents, so fair enough. Australians….he had been out fishing all day (the island is a world class trout /salmon fishing destination). She had, I heard her say , been ‘working all day’ and was now knitting.
Nice meal as ever, ribeye steak for Chris and I had two starters. Pea Risotto and beetroot and gravadlax salmon, good bread, ice cream and sorbets to finish.
Strolled out afterwards to the Stone Circle… a beautiful spot.
It was so lovely we then drove up the Cleitraval road, to the radar station, for extensive views across North Uist to South Uist and out to St Kilda.
Watched a short eared owl hunting, a very common sight on Uist.
Sad to be leaving it all tomorrow.Too short a time as always.But… stunning Harris and – with luck – St Kilda beckoned.Much still to look forward to!