Britain 09 - Day 23
Sunday is a quiet time on the Outer Hebrides, with most shops closed for the day. After a nice breakfast at the Polochar Inn, watching the sun come up on a fine clear morning, we headed north through South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist to stay the night at Carinish. The islands of Uist are rocky and barren, with many small lakes, windswept coast on the west (the machair) and quieter, bays on inlets on the east.
Polochar Inn and South Uist
The Polochar Inn is a comfortable hotel on the south west corner of South Uist. It does seem a bit out of place, such a nice hotel in such a windswept, rock-strewn surroundings. In hindsight we should have stayed two nights here, to get a better feel for the area, and to experience more of the hospitality. The hotel has extensive views west across the Atlantic and features some remarkable sunsets. We arrived on the Saturday evening in heavy cloud and occasional showers, but these cleared overnight for a brilliantly fine sunrise. There are two ferry terminals on South Uist - the one on Eriskay that we arrived at from South Uist, and the larger one at Lochboisdale for ferries from Oban. We drove down toLochboisdale in the early morning, but as expected it is a small port with no major tourist facilities. Close to Polochar is the reputed birthplace of Flora MacDonald - the saviour of Bonny Prince Charles. Modern historians now dispute this location as her birthplace, but that has not stopped the locals continuing with this claim. Just north of Flora's house is the Kildonan Centre and Museum with a very welcome cafe. Although the cafe's website claimed it was closed on Sunday mornings, we called in and found a good pot (caffetaire) of coffee and scones.
The Temples at Howmore (or Tobha Mor)
At Howmore is a collection of ruined chapels. There is no explanation of why there should be so many together. All are built in similar style but have been adapted over the years. Many now have headstones (and presumably graves) filling in the floor area.
Loch Druidibeg is a large lake in the centre of the island. It is abird and wildlife sanctuary, a Scottish National Nature Reserve..
Radar domes and Benbecula
Just to the north of Loch Druidibeg, and dominating the skyline are the radar domes of the missile tracking facility of the Ministry of Defence. The road west through Lochdar and out to Machrach Point passes several well-tended shrines, many of them in glass cabinets as protection from the elements. At the Point lie the oldest rocks in the British Isles - Lewisian Gneiss.
North Uist and Carinish
Benbecula is a cluster is low-lying islands and tidal plains with a few hills up to 120m above sea level. The road meanders across a series of causeways, crossing over the small island of Grimsay before arriving on North Uist - our seventh Hebridean island so far.
Our accommodation for the night was the Temple View Hotel at Carinish. It was well chosen, being a lovely rural hotel in ideal settings. The accommodation was comfortable and the evening meal superb, accompanied by a small but well-chosen wine list.
Last updated: 16/06/2017