after the winter...

…that never really was

(it was just a long. long, wet, windy, frequently stormy and at least once hurricaned, autumn.

Then in late March came a balmy spring, which sent us scampering from our Glasgow hangout to the beach at Ayr

Ayr, March 28th 2012

This was the hottest March day in recoded Scottish meteo-history. Some rare sights for Ayrshire in spring:

Ayr, March 28th 2012

But within a week winter finally arrived. Snow fell overnight across Scotland on April 2nd, though here in the Great Glen we got off very light. Just a couple of inches in our garden and a picturesque powdering of the hilltops. By the end of Wednesday the 4th, we had a beautiful and summery gloaming light on the loch, below the snow-capped peaks:

Glenalbyn Gloaming 4/4/12


a Harris Journal : day 4 : west to east

a fine morning in Ardhasaig, with the hilltops clearly visible for once

looking west at Ardhasaig

So off we head westwards, past the eerie remains of the old Norwegian whaling station
The Old Whaling Station

to the famous sandy beach to the west at Hushinish

Hushinish Panorama

Sometimes on days like this the chromatics of sea and sand seem more Caribbean than British

Ruth on the beach at Hushinish

As we head back towards Tarbert, though, the landscape is unmistakably Scottish

Above Amhuinnsuidhe

as are the fauna.

Having done the west route, we continued on through Tarbert and on over the bridge that links Harris and the isle of Scalpay off its eastern coast.

A major part of the character of the islands comes from the fact that, in such far flung places, broken down and unwanted properties of all kinds remain to rust and rot, until gradually over time they will simply be absorbed by the land or the sea.



So this is not a landscape wild or undisturbed. This landscape bears the marks of human presence and history at every turn. And for the most part it’s the history of ordinary island folk, whose relics linger after them and bear witness to their lives and struggles


Who lived here? And who allowed a habitation in such a beautiful spot to crumble and collapse?


a Harris journal : day 3 : South Harris

a day-trip around the southern part of Harris...

… an area renowned for its vast sandy beaches

Approaching Luskentyre

Looking back to Luskentyre

By reputation these expanses of sand are deserted. But it seems nobody told these surfers

Traigh Iar, South Harris

Surfing at Traigh Iar, South Harris

Traigh Scarasta

Northton,  South Harris, looking north


a Harris journal : day 7 : dreaming of St. Kilda

when the skies cleared and the horizon came plain to view, Jim was surprised to discover

that the abandoned island of St Kilda was visible from the windows of our Hebri-gîte in Ardhasaig.

St Kilda Ahoy! (not)

Sadly not true, though. St Kilda is visible from North Uist, but not from Ardhasaig. Turns out that’s just some rock… shame!

So it’s back to Luskentyre beach, to see it one last time, and while the sun shines and a heron is patrolling the strand

Heron at Luskentyre

a Harris journal : day 2 : miracle at Luskentyre

our first full day on Harris is a Sunday. And as wet a Sunday as you could ever hope for

Best seen through the kitchen window, maybe

Ardhasaig kitchen outlook

So it’s quite late in the day that we decide to get out, and head for the famous beach at Luskentyre

Along the way, South Harris shows its lunar appeal

Road to Luskentyre (1)

and it seems the darkest time is just before the light as we descend towards the sea, and the beach at Luskentyre appears in the distance, glowing through the gloom

Road to Luskentyre (2)

The light here is quite extraordinary. The sea glows turquoise, and through it the sand seems illuminated by a light whose source is genuinely mysterious


If the sea is blue because it reflects the colour of the sky, then when is the sea here, today, this luminous green, when the sky is grey, going on black?


And there’s more. We brave the rain to go watch gannets playing in the surf. Really quite unusual to get so close to these creatures

Gannet at Luskentyre (1) ,,,,,,,,,, Gannet at Luskentyre (2)

We get thoroughly drenched walking half a mile from the car to the beach, but the rain stops and the wind dries us out again on the walk back!

Then it’s back to Ardhasaig, wher the evening light suggests we may have a better day coming tomorrow

Evening light at Ardhasaig