Friday, 22 September 2017

A Hebridean Holiday Day One: A Walk Along the North-western Coast of Lewis. . .

Just when I thought there couldn't be a more magical place than Shetland, I was lucky enough to travel to the Outer Hebrides on a walking holiday. Whew - another absolutely gorgeous place, bigger, higher, rockier and more dramatic in terms of its landscape than Shetland, but just as fascinating a place to explore for its history, culture, archaeology, textiles and of course walking.

We met our guide in Inverness and drove to Ullapool to catch the ferry to Stornoway, seeing dolphins along the way which was quite exciting.  We arrived mid-evening and our lodgings were still a 45 minute drive away so I didn't see anything of Stornoway apart from the ferry terminal.  Our first walk was on the north-west coastline of Lewis, just south of Gallan Head. It was rainy and misty when we first set off, so although the area was bordered by mountains, I couldn't see much more than this (still colourful and dramatic in its own way)

As we made our way towards the coast, our guide pointed out the beach on this bay called Camas Uig. You can see it as a thin line of white sand in the center of this photo.  In the dunes behind this beach, the famous Lewis chessmen were found.

The coastline is beautiful - rocky, stormy, full of cliffs and interesting rock striations. The waves and foam are relentless and the water is inky blue and deep teal.

We were lucky that the weather started to clear up after lunch, although, as I was to learn early on, you can easily get three or four seasons in one day up in the Hebrides.  I wore my over trousers and windproof coat every day and never regretted it or got too hot.  Walking in the wet is just fine as long as you are prepared for it.

This landscape reminds me a lot of the east coast of Canada.

Hard to see in this photo, but in this little inlet, we stumbled among a group of curious seals bobbing up and down in the water - you can just see three tiny heads still there.

Of course I never get tired of sheep-spotting either.

Or getting inspired by all the natural colours. Rocks are never boring in north-west Scotland.

By the end of the walk, the mountains were now distinct.

And there was the first of many rainbows that we saw on this trip.

Before heading back for dinner, our guide asked us if we'd like to visit a beautiful beach.  Umm, yes please!

The water was freezing.  My toes were getting numb at this point.

But it was not a problem for my fearless friend Sal who plunged right in and had a swim. I think the temperature was a balmy 13 degrees.

It was a great start to the vacation, but oh my. . . there is so much more amazing scenery to come. . . .

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