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" Outer Hebrides 2019 - 9 - Eriskay "
Date & start time: Tuesday 21st May 2019 and other days ( NB 141 043)
Location of Start : The cottage at South Loch Boisdale ( Map ref: NF 786 175)
Stayed at : Seann Taigh, South Lochboisdale South Uist, The Hebrides, UK.
Places visited : A couple of visits to the island of Eriskay
Walk details : Short walks exploring the area.
With : Ann and our dogs, Dylan and Dougal.
Weather : Fine weather, sunshine and blue skies with a slight breeze at times.
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The island of Eriskay was our destination on some of the days that we stayed on South Uist.
On the map it is an island of two halves, partially split by the sea of Loch Arcairseid
but all the houses are on the northern half and it has a feeling of a single, vibrant community.
It has two hills, a pub, a shop, a church,a number of houses plus some of the finest beaches in the area.
The view from the main road that runs along the bottom coastline of South Uist.
The two summits on Eriskay can be seen across the way. The final land mass is a rock stack south of the island.
In 1963 the ferry to Barra was a small open boat that only took foot passengers (the smaller of these two).
In 1963 access to Eriskay itself was by vehicle ferry and this was how we last visited the island in 1988.
When we last visited, the car ferry was the same
but the Ludag to Barra service had been upgraded to a covered boat, as seen here in our photo.
Nowadays the romance has gone but so has the inconvenience of a ferry timetable.
The island is connected to the mainland of Uist by a rock causeway designed to stop rural depopulation
and to enhance the life and trade of island communities like Eriskay.
In the background the Barra Ferry has been upgraded and now sails from Eriskay rather than the small harbour here at Ludag.
The shallow sea was the reason why the causeway was a practical option to connect the island.
As you can see, the weather today was in the style of "Greek Island" . . . apart from the cool breeze.
( Don't expect pictures of deck chairs on the beaches or people swimming in the bays !)
The small harbour at Haunn . . . the jetty on the end was the old ferry landing point for the island.
Today it supports the small local fishing industry.
An old property on the hill with the summit of Beinn Scrien behind . . . we'll try and climb it later in the week.
We drive the short distance and park near the pub !
It is also conveniently close to the beach for a walk for ourselves and the dogs.
One of the beaches close to 'town'.
A tide line of shells . . .
Close detail shows a delight of colour and form.
A convenient bench is just asking to be sat upon !
It has been placed to allow users to enjoy the excellent views across to the islands.
The view from the machair above the beach.
Walking back across to the village . . . thirsty work !
The dunes provide the only depth of ground that allows burial of the dead.
Ann chooses one of the more colourful tables in the beer garden of "Am Politician".
We enjoyed a really good lunch of local Eriskay scallops and salad from their lunchtime menu.
The pub was named after the fabled wartime ship that was wrecked in the Sound of Eriskay.
The SS Politician was carrying all manner of trade goods, from cotton to medicines to biscuits, but the ship is best remembered
for the contents of Hold Number 5, some 264,000 bottles of Scotch whisky. ( More detail for you at Scotchwhisky.com)
Only the Official Secrets Act holds back the truth about why millions of pounds worth of Jamaican banknotes
and over quarter of a million bottles of Scotch Whisky were being transported to America in the middle of World War Two !
The pub still holds examples of the wartime whisky plus other items that were salvaged from the wreck.
Sadly none of the whisky was on offer to taste !
The Politician also holds a photo of one of the locals celebrating the opening of the new purpose built pub in the village (1987).
Modern tourism for Eriskay had begun !
- - - o o o - - -
Afterwards it was time to explore once again . . .
We crossed the island to Loch Acairseid where there is a local east coast inlet and harbour.
Presumably the causeway and shallow Sound of Eriskay makes this harbour a more attractive option for these working boats.
We walk down to the end of the old road
and continued on the grassy track leading out onto the headland.
The dogs enjoyed the freedom of the open ground.
An old croft house lies in ruins at the end of the track.
From there on it's just a path through the grass and irises.
Out to sea we have a view of the island of Canna and Skye to the left
the hills of Rhum dominating the view ahead and distant Ardnamurchan to the right . . . the visibility was superb.
A cormorant dries its wings on a low tide rock in the harbour.
A lovely local walk . . . but the island has more to offer in the way of beach and hill walking.
- - - o o o - - -
Back on the west coast we drive down to the new ferry jetty on the southern end of the island.
This is the southern-most of the sandy beaches on Eriskay.
More beautiful white sand and shells along the tide line.
Another favourite place for dog walkers too.
The beach is famed as being the landing place of Bonnie Prince Charlie over 250 years ago when he was fleeing after a battle on the mainland.
The local school was instrumental in raising the cairn and associated plaque to record the landing.
Heading back to the village we pass a modern allotment . . . an attempt to duplicate the traditional "lazy beds".
They are dug over, covered in seaweed and sand from the troughs and planted with potatoes.
For a real "lazy bed", now cover the entire grass with cultivation . . . that's far from lazy . . . hence the ironic name !
Before we leave the island this time we'll call in to see the Church of St Michael.
Notably the church is orientated north / south with a rounded northern end holding the altar.
Presumably this design was to protect the congregation when entering or leaving the east facing doorway during high winds and poor weather.
The Church of St Michael sits in a commanding position at the top of the village of Am Baile.
Time to head home for the evening and spend some more time discovering new stories about the islands.
- - - o o o - - -
Whilst in ecumenical mood, we called in at the Lady of Sorrows Church, alongside the main road leading back to the cottage.
Inside a very modern design and very different type of church.
At the top of the Outer Hebrides the predominant religion is Protestant Church of Scotland and the 'Wee Frees'.
Down this end of the islands most churches are Roman Catholic, like this one and St Michael's we visited earlier.
Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix Tz60 Compact, or my Panasonic Gx8 mid-range System Camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . a local map and tourist leaflets to explore the area.
Previous walk - Outer Hebrides 2019 - 8 - Seann Taigh
A previous time in the area - a few old photos are included within the text.
Next walk - Outer Hebrides 2019 - 10 - Beaches and Boisdale