Borve, United Kingdom
The final island ferry ride today as we head over from the Benbecula and the Uists to Barra and Vatersay. But first we have South Uist to look round on the way down!
Leaving the Orasay Inn, and paying due respect to the shrine of Our Lady of the Something or Other at the crossroads, we took the turning left and south for the first time. A short distance down the road was the ruined village of Milton, which was the birthplace of Flora MacDonald. Flora was the girl who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape the English after the battle of Culloden, and is of course a national heroine as a result. There’s not a lot left of Milton these days, just some ruins and outlines where the village stood, though there is a monument where it’s thought Flora’s house was.
Further south from there is the town of Lochboisdale, which is yet another ferry port. This time the ferries make the long haul to Oban instead of Skye – a sure sign we’re getting further south. You can also catch a ferry here to Castlebay in Barra, but it’s quite a long crossing as it has to circle the island, so we’re not going to do that. So we had a pot of tea in the the Lochboisdale Hotel and continued southwards, crossing the causeway to the island of Eriskay. This is a tiny island with just a few residents, but from its lowest tip you can catch the ferry for the short (40 min) hop across the Sound of Barra to our final island stop at the Isles of Barra Beach Hotel.
We only have a short wait for the ferry (actually, it was waiting for us but the crew were having their dinner). There’s only a handful of cars and bikes to make the crossing, which takes just 40 mins, but turns out to be incredibly interesting. All around gannets dive for fish and as we come close to rocky outcrops we can see basking seals.
There is only a short drive from the ferry port to our hotel, so we quickly check in then head out to Castlebay just down the road. It being Sunday tomorrow, we’re somewhat concerned that everywhere will be closed and if we don’t see it today then we won’t. Castlebay is really busy with a couple of coach parties. However, we manage to walk round the town, visit the heritage centre (quite interesting) and take tea and a bun in the Cafe Kisimul. Castlebay is of course the place where “An Island Parish” was filmed, and it’s amazing how many things are recognisable. On this short visit I spot the owner of the Cafe Kisimul, Donald MacLeod the boatman, Father John-Paul’s car and I even pass Scraggie Aggie on her way back from the Co-op!
A word about the hotel. Frankly it’s in a stunning location next to a beach overlooking the Atlantic. It must be wild in a storm, but today it’s basking under the sunshine. Ok, it’s windy, but then it’s always windy here!
But that’s it for today. Tomorrow we have a quieter day on Barra including a wee trip to our last island, Vatersay.