Tuesday, 10 June 2014

North Uist and Berneray

On Monday we ventured onto North Uist. The Uists are now joined by causeways from Eriskay in the south to Berneray in the north, up to the late 20th century you'd have to have got boats to go between them. Eriskay's causeway was built in 2001. Makes for a very different feel on each island, although there seems to be a strong Uist identity. And a wonderful accent! My ear isn't good enough to detect differences between island accents, but I'm sure there are.

North Uist is a huge bog in the middle with lots of peat cutting for fuel. We passed through Sollas, which is the site of the most inhumane clearances in the islands. I can't imagine how I would feel to be made to leave such a beautiful place, despite its hardships. Subject for more research when we get home I think. Once on Berneray we spotted an information board - not many of these about in these parts, these islands are really not spoiled by tourism. Anyway, we stopped for a look and found Dun an Sticir, which is the remains of settlements on a loch dating up to 5000 years ago. There are the remains of a broch with a later medieval hall in the middle, and joined by stone causeways to the land. Feels strange to be somewhere humans have been 5000 years ago and occupied up to the 16th century. Now it's home to otters, but we still haven't seen one! Noisy child and dog make them hide I suppose, but we saw lots of otter spraints (poo) and bits of crab (dinner).

Further onto Berneray we went to the beach and were amazed by the blueness of the sea. Photos don't capture the turquoise - it looked like a Caribbean island. Except it was flippin' chilly, hurray for my hat!
Sparkly stones abound, the rocks were twinkling. And then we nearly stepped on two speckled eggs, so well disguised and just laid on a scrape in between the pebbles. Try and spot them in the stoney photo. I think they were oystercatcher eggs as that was the bird shouting at us. Florence made a sand broch with a grass roof, like the restored blackhouses.

Finally we headed south again and found a lovely stone circle called Bharpa Langass overlooking a loch. We followed a marked track to look for a chambered cairn called Pobull Fhinn (of Finn McCool's people) and got to what must be one of the best trig points ever! It wasn't that high, but there was a 360° panorama of lochs and hills. A drowned landscape. I have never seen anything like it. If you ever find yourself on North Uist, you must go. Photos again don't do it justice.
Unfortunately the chambered cairn had collapsed in the passageway, so we couldn't get in, but good to see none the less.

Now we have been from the bottom of the causewayed islands to the top. Only a few more days of this adventure left. And loads of ideas for projects to do at home...

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