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Back to Lewis
The week before last was spent in the Outer Hebrides. We drove up to Ullapool, building in dog walking stops and a late picnic lunch at the edge of a forest. The crossing takes two and half hours across the stretch of water known as the Minch. It can be challenging around each equinox with high seas running but we travelled in reasonable comfort, thankfully.
The first night we spent at my brother's house, catching up and putting the world to rights. After that we were able to move into the wee rental house we had booked. It was small, with laminate floors - not much traction for a big dog intent on zooming around!
Just along the road the shore known as Tong Saltings is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). There is a short marked path to follow to avoid disturbing the wildlife. Bruce and I walked here the first morning and watched waders, oystercatchers, curlews and what I think were pochard ducks.
We were in Lewis primarily for Hugh to deliver offroad driver training to members of HM Coastguard. I took my accounts to work on. I always mean to do them monthly but that has never yet happened. There was a substantial pile of paperwork to plough through but now I just have March to deal with, and a heap of supporting documents to print off.
Then we were free agents for a couple of days, and travelled the length of the islands (Lewis and Harris are one landmass) stopping at beaches and lighthouses, or going in search of a wifi signal (aka enjoying coffee and cake). Given the time of year we were exceptionally fortunate that the sun shone at some stage every day, and it wasn't ever more than breezy.
When I was in my teens and then again in my twenties I lived on the island and was a frequent visitor to the grounds of Lews Castle in Stornoway. On a windswept, almost treeless, island it was a pleasure to walk along narrow paths lined with mature specimens and rampant rhododendrons. Over the intervening decades much work has been carried out to thin the 'weeds', widen the paths, rescue and replant. It's now full of interesting 'stuff' that you come upon while wandering. I have no recollection of the wee enclosure and pond shown above which took my fancy.
A favourite of ours is to drive to the end of the road at Tolsta on the east side of the island, cross the 'Bridge to Nowhere' and continue on foot for a while. The views of the Traigh Mor (big beach) are always dramatic; the light (and rain showers) ensured last week's was no exception.
It is good to return to old stamping grounds, but only to visit, I find. Much as I love wide open spaces and would dearly love to live beside the sea again, I am happier on mainland Scotland.