We’d spent a good period of time enjoying wild-camping around Glen Coe, and decided to treat ourselves to a night in a proper campsite in Mallaig the night before catching the ferry over to Skye. However, that evening was one of the windiest nights we’d experienced, and Prue received a text from the ferry operators, Calmac, saying our boat had pre-emptively been cancelled. Conditions didn’t improve the next morning, and all other sailings were called off. We would later learn that this happens all too frequently on the Mallaig-Armadale route, and it’s currently a really important issue for the area. The cancellation of ferries is having a noticeably detrimental effect on tourism in the south of Skye, as people in our situation are left with no other option but to drive up to Kyle of Localsh in order to cross the bridge, missing out the journey up through the south of the island. But for us, as it was still blowing a hoolie, we both counted ourselves lucky that we had an alternative to a choppy boat crossing.
As we drove onto the second island of our trip, Skye was beautiful…from what we could see of it. The weather really wasn’t giving us any breaks; with incredibly strong gales and thick low cloud, we couldn’t see the Cuillin mountains that we knew loomed somewhere in the near distance. It didn’t let up for the next few days, although we tried to keep positive and get to the places we wanted to see on the island, despite the rain.
The highlight of our time on Skye was definitely the wildlife hide at Kylerhea – a really good way to spend a few hours in a quiet location under shelter. Within twenty minutes of sitting in the small hut overlooking a bay, we had spotted two otters hunting in the shallow water. Seeing them at ease in their natural habitat was really special, not something either of us will forget. We also saw a golden eagle and plenty of seals; all in all, neither of us could believe our luck
We managed to see the Fairy Pools when the weather gave us a short break but we were amazed at how busy the area was. We weren’t expecting to be met with coaches of tourists or to be in a long line of people trudging through the boggy ground to the top of the waterfalls. It seemed that we had been spoiled by our previous few weeks of off-season travelling, feeling as though we had Scotland all to ourselves, and we had forgotten that we too were tourists (albeit quieter and more discreet ones). We longed for solitude again, and decided it was time to head for the Outer Hebrides. We had heard from some other fellow travellers that Harris, in particular, was well-worth the ferry trip, so we started there first.
The morning of the ferry was (thankfully) pretty calm and clear, and we felt more positive as we skimmed across the water towards Tarbert. We saw puffins flying alongside the boat and resting in the water. Once on land, it became clear really quickly that Harris didn’t look like anywhere else we had seen before. We both marvelled at the lunar-like landscape for a little bit too long and didn’t realise quite how late it was getting. With the light fading and without much of a plan we decided to try a campsite closeby that we had heard good things about. We turned up and tried our luck but the lovely owner told us it was fully booked. He did, however, very kindly let us park up just outside the site and allow us to use the facilities. We were both super grateful and we settled in for the night knowing we had a hot shower waiting for us the following morning.
While making our morning cuppa we got talking to another camper who told us to head to Luskentyre beach. We took his word for it and made the most of the morning sunshine. As we drove closer, a beautiful bay of white sand and shimmering tourquoise water came into view. We went for a wander and couldn’t believe we had it all to ourselves, it really felt like we were abroad on some tropical island paradise. After a couple of hours the weather began to turn again so we scurried back to the van and headed north. We didn’t have a destination in mind, so after a while we decided to pull into a layby to come up with a route. As we drove in, Chlo noticed a wooden sign for an Eagle Observatory 2km away – what a find! We donned our boots and raincoats and set off for the Observatory to see what we could see. After a lovely trek through the valley we crept into the hide and didn’t have to wait long to see a golden eagle soaring between the craggy peaks.
The next day the weather was against us again and we were slowly realising we couldn’t always let it stop us exploring. We packed our wet weather gear and drove up to Callanish to see the standing stones. As soon as we got near we could see just how impressive they were and we were both glad we had made the trip to Lewis. That being said, even in our gear, we were getting soaked and we soon admitted defeat. We opted for a cosy movie day under a duvet and hoped for better weather the following day for our ferry to North Uist.