Posted by & filed under Travel, May 31 2010.

At Losgaintir beach, Harris

At Losgaintir beach, Harris

Two weeks ago, Lesley and I went on a trip to the Western Isles, travelling the entire length of the Islands from north to south.

Highlights of the trip included the standing stones at Calanais on Lewis, eating at the Gallan Head restaurant (a converted building on an ex-RAF base), the mountains and beaches of Harris (Losgaintir beach looking like it should be in the Bahamas or the Caribbean, although definitely not as warm!), staying on the remote island of Baleshare off North Uist, the desolate panoramic view of Benbecula and South Uist from the radar station on the summit of Ruabhal (used for the nearby missile range), walking in the flat machair landscape of the west coast of South Uist, sampling the nightlife of Castlebay on Barra (curry and pubs full of drunk young people) & walking on Vatersay.

We had fantastic weather for most of the trip, and the walk we did on Vatersay, at the very southern tip of the island chain, was idyllic, with blue skies, several empty beaches of golden sands and warm grassy hillsides of flowers and birds.

The ferry crossing from Ullapool to Stornoway was perhaps the worst part of the trip; even though it was not particularly bad weather that day, the rolling of the ship in the waves made us both feel a bit rotten. All the other ferry crossings were amazing though, and the last ferry from Barra to Oban was almost like a mediterranean cruise across calm blue water and past mountainous islands.

On the drive up to Ullapool we also stopped off at the the Highland Wildlife Park near Kincraig. I’m not really much of a fan of zoos and wildlife parks (would much rather see animals in the wild than cooped up in a prison), but the park does have some great animals to see including Scottish Wildcats, Pine Martens and Siberian Tigers, which we saw all getting fed. Mercedes the polar bear was asleep under a big pile of hay so we didn’t see much of her.

You can see all my photos from the trip on my website here.

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