Setting the alarm for 4 am can only mean one thing, a manic morning road trip to catch a Calmac ferry to the Islands. The thought of that bacon roll and cup of coffee on the ferry is enough to get us through the early start, though in truth, it is hard to contain our excitement for what is ahead. After a 6-hour drive, and a few emergency stops for sunrise pics in Glencoe, we arrive in Uig on the Isle of Skye and our destination for our week on Harris in the Outer Hebrides. We make our annual pilgrimage to Harris in search of adventure, to visit loved ones and those breathtaking beaches, however, plans need to stay pretty flexible due to Mother Nature. The anticipation of getting the ferry makes us feel like kids again and to top it all off we have hired a vintage VW California for the week’s adventure. Arriving in Harris, our first stop is the Harris distillery situated in the port of Tarbert. A great community distillery with the most beautifully designed Gin bottle we have seen (the gin is awesome too). We stock up with supplies and head down to the West Coast to find a spot for the evening, parking up at Luskentyre we feel like we have hit the jackpot. A million pound view. Can life get any better? Yes, it can, thanks to Croft 36, they deliver the most amazing homemade food right to our van. The night rolls out with beach walks, a sunset that I will remember for the rest of my life, and the balmy air making for the most incredible day overlooking one of the best beaches in the world. Not even 24 hours off of the mainland and you’ve easily lost all track of time. Life was so good we decided not to move for another day. Enjoying beautiful paddles, a few GnT’s on the beach and a cheeky siesta. You truly forget that you are in Scotland.
Motivated to actually move and drive the van we decide to climb Ceapabhal. After a pit stop at Temple Cafe, and fully caffeinated, an amble across the machair to a stunning bay lead us to a derelict chapel overlooking out to sea. Isolated and exposed, perched above a stunning strip of white sand. Heading up Ceapabhal you are met with a view over the sands and tide across Scarista towards Luskentyre one direction, and out to Berneray and North Uist the other.
With the weather changing, we decide to hunker down for the night. As a storm looms over us, with wind rattling the vents on the van and an early evening darkness descending upon us, we watch the wind whip the sand up as the rain pours down. Drifting off to sleep to the sound of the storm was remarkably peaceful, the sound of a million droplets of water drumming you to sleep.
Waking up to blue skies and no wind, it is time to paddle. Exploring the west coast of Harris with the Isle of Taransay in the background, all aquamarine water, and white sand, we have to stop and take it all in, pinching ourselves every now and again. Suitably sunburnt and exhausted from a day paddling we head to Temple Cafe for their pizza night. Finding a cracking little spot on the beach to sit and scoff our pizza watching the sun go down. 4 days on Harris and we are finally in the island groove. A day here feels like two back home.
Our last day on Harris is an absolute scorcher. Cruising around in the van on single track roads. Windows down, music cranked up. We head for one final paddle and Mother Nature has saved the best for last, followed by a mad dash for the ferry back home. Leaving Harris is never Goodbye. Only ever Haste Ye Back!