Britain 09 - Day 24
Today we finished our travel around North Uist and took the next ferry trip across to Berneray on Harris. Our first visit was to drive south again over the causeways to South Uist to visit the famed Salar Salmon Smokehouse. From our first meal on Barra, when the lights when out, we had been enjoying the delights of smoked salmon in salads and entrees. The source was on South Uist so we headed there before travelling back around North Uist to Lochmaddy. Here there is an excellent local museum, craft shop and cafe, the Taigh Chearsabhagh, where we indulged in good coffee and the purchase of a few souvenirs before making our way to the next ferry for the crossing to Harris and a slow drive across the island to Stornoway.
The Salar Smoke House is the home of the best smoked salmon in the western islands.
The north of North Uist
The road around the top of North Uist passes small lochs and sandy bays, with the occasional small castle. One of these is Scolpaig's Tower (or folly), a small round tower built in about 1830 to provide local employment. Some of the crofter's cottages are now rented out for holiday cottages. One of the favourites with the tour brochures is the small white cottage beside the road at Botarubha. When we passed, a group of people were gathering reeds into bundles preparing to replace the thatch.
Berneray to Leverburgh, then Harris, Lewis and Stornoway
After the coffee and souvenir hunting at the museum and arts centre at Lochmaddy, we followed the signs to the ferry, crossing yet another causeway onto the island of Berneray. Here lies the recently opened ferry terminal to Leverburgh on Harris. Our packet of ferry tickets was diminishing - one trip left after this one. We joined the queue for the ferry, after a very relieved man realised we had bookings for this trip. We soon saw why - a large crane and attendant trucks were also queued up for this trip. The ferry, the Loch Portain soon arrived and on we went. The trip across to Leverburgh was characterised by the zig-zag nature of the journey. We could see many red and green buoys ahead, but the ferry master seemed to have his own idea of how to thread a slalom course between them. Obviously he had done this before, because we arrived safely in Leverburgh. We had made the mistake of not taking our lunch onto the ferry, leaving our bread, salad and our fresh smoked salmon in the car. So we had to sit and watch all the other passengers eating their lunches. However, once we drove off, past the "Butty Bus" on the wharf, we found a nice lay-by overlooking a sandy beach where we could have our salmon. Then it was on over the hills, through the clouds and showers to Stornoway.
After driving across Harris and Lewis we finally arrived at Stornoway. This was the one place where I had difficulty finding good accommodation on the Internet. All the hotels (all 2 or 3 of them) had poor visitor ratings and comments and none of the B&Bs were inspiring. Eventually I selected a B&B a little way out of town, judged by its appearance, location and the good comments about it (but only 2 or 3 comments in total). The position on the map was deceptive and the B&B was several miles away, was a small cramped house and was not at all inviting. We agreed that it was not suitable, so headed back into Stornoway, wondering what to do. As we came around a roundabout, there in front of us was a large, multi-storey hotel (the largest in Stornoway as it happens) - the Caladh Inn. An enquiry about a family room elicited raucous laughter - not because they were full, but because they were empty - how many rooms did we want? So there we stayed, and despite the negative comments on various travel sites, we had an excellent room with plenty of space. A cider or two and a Guiness overcame the day's troubles and we dined in their spacious restaurant - the only part of the hotel that had good ratings.
Last updated: 16/06/2017