DAY 4: A walk on Berneray and the ferry to Harris
Mega breakfast as ever in B&Bs, tremendous value really. Cereals and yoghurt and sausage, bacon and eggs, black pudding , mushrooms and beans; plenty toast and gallons of tea. Chris and Effie had really hit it off , talking away in Gaelic.We also agreed to deliver a small crate of her homemade jam to a local shop on North Harris (that gave me something to worry about – broken jam jars all over the car if we weren’t careful.)
Made our customary visit to the RSPB reserve at Balranald to see what was doing. A Corncrake was ‘krek krekking’ insistently as we got out of the car.A very rare bird these days , you hear rather than see them – and protected – though Chris remembers his father (and other locals) felt like taking a shotgun to them in days past, they woke everyone up at 5am!Strolled along the grass and over to a beach , then made our way along the sands to the Reserve again.It was a rockier beach, more birdlife with what looked also like the remains of a dead dolphin, poor thing.Cloudier though and quite cold in the stiff breeze.
Soup and a cheese scone lunch (why?? after that feast earlier? Sheer greed) in Claddach Kirkibost centre, then made for Berneray. It was a truly glorious day again now and our ferry to Harris wasn’t until 5.30pm, the last one.Had a minor anxiety attack that we should change this to an earlier ferry in case it got cancelled, broke down, sank etc…..Chris calmly, as ever, assured me we should just leave it as it was.But we had my next bucket list item tomorrow….St Kilda.We HAD to be on Harris tonight for an early 8am start on Sea Harris so if for any reason we didn’t get over, the trip was kaput AND we’d lose our big deposit. Sods’ Law and all that…..Of course, all this was ignored by Chris as just his worry – bead wife on over-drive.
Got over to Berneray, connected by causeway to North Uist, to see the second last ferry depart! Bridges burned…..it was the last boat or nothing.
I love the north end of North Uist – the water is just gorgeous on a blue sky day.Very intense colours.
Drove out to a small parking area on the beautiful Berneray machair and walked across the wildflower strewn grassland to the big dunes which led to the island’s magnificent 4 mile long shell sand beach.
It really looked more like the shore of a South Sea island, than the North Atlantic.Emerald green Pabbay sat offshore and Harris’s green and golden mountains formed a beautiful backdrop.
Walked out to a spit of land where the beach does a big right turn then headed back.I think we passed two people.This is part of a 7-8 mile walk that takes you out to a headland and back over the matter and low hills but we didn’t have time for that today.
Had a quick cuppa in the distinctly average Lobster Pot tearoom on the outskirts of the village. I’ve never fancied staying on Berneray, the houses are too close together for me.
Then relief as I saw our ferry sweep round the bay and in half na hour we had driven onto it, winds quite light and the hour’s crossing uneventful (it always is). Chris loves that sail across the islet strewn Sound of Harris, but it’s not a favourite of mine. The water is so shallow that the ferry has to take a huge detour for what should be a very short route, so I just feel impatient and want to reach Na Hearadh (original Gaelic name for Harris). I really can be a philistine, as it’s a lovely area.
Plenty birdlife to entertain of course……great northern divers, eider ducks, guillemots, kittiwakes.But good to drive off onto the firm ground of Harris to set up camp for the night and hope – HOPE – the St Kilda trip next day was on.
Set the tent up near Northton, ten minutes from Leverburgh and just a short ten minute walk in from a parking area. This took us to high ground above a lovely bay we know quite well, not a soul around and well out of sight of the croft houses. Popped open the sparkling wine and drank to a really wonderful time on North Uist and- maybe – a trip out to St Kilda tomorrow. IF the weather played ball. In fact, the wind was rising already and with it, would come big seas. I might be out of luck again to see this bucket list wish come true. Later, as we listened to the Shipping Forecast for Hebrides and Bailey, it didn’t sound good AT ALL; it was set to get worse overnight!
A porpoise surfaced intermittently offshore as we cooked some chicken curry and rice and drank to this next stage of our trip.
I also got a text message from Sea Harris saying they ‘hoped’ to run the trip tomorrow but we weren’t holding our breath( well, I wasn’t; Chris , as is his wont, was fairly horizontal about the whole thing even more so as he made this way though a bottle of the Co-op’s best Chardonnay.)
By the time we got into our sleeping bags, the rain was pitter pattering loudly on the tent and it was starting to flap wildly in the strengthening wind.Hardly slept a wink, tossing and turning all night, convincing myself we didn’t have a Scoobie’s chance of getting out to St Kilda as planned.Chris of course, slept like a log.
For the first day of our Hebrides tour which started on Skye: TOURING THE OUTER HEBRIDES (DAY 1: TO SKYE)