Posted by: christinelaennec | August 11, 2011

Our visit to Harris, Pt 3: beaches, sunsets, tweed tapestries

Please forgive me for being self-indulgent and posting so many photographs here.  I think I’m wanting to remember our beautiful week so much, partly because it’s been so dreich and cold and rainy here.

I couldn’t resist yet another photograph of the amazing colours of the sea in Harris.  You can see that our “Harris Landscape” painting by Willie Fulton is no exaggeration.

The sea on the West side of the Isle of Harris, Taransay beyond. July 2011.

I wasn’t the only one trying to capture the beauty of the island.  Here is our friend Ian, on the cliff above Seilebost beach.  The gap you see on the horizon between mainland Harris and the Isle of Taransay is the gap through which the next stop is Newfoundland.  I think one of the reasons that the West side of Harris has such a beachy landscape is that the long island of Taransay protects so much of it from the direct onslaught of the Atlantic.  Taransay was the location of the year-long experiment “Castaway 2000,” in which people from all parts of Britain lived for a year together on the island.  It was fascinating viewing!

I'm not the only photographer! Looking out over Seilebost beach, Isle of Harris.

I stayed on the cliff-top and knitted (also guarded all our gathered possessions) while the others went down a sandy gap in the dunes and played on the beach:

Frolicking on Seilebost beach, Isle of Harris. (Taransay in the background.)

The Dafter and her friend were soaked, and happy.  I was struck by how the colours in this photograph are very like the colours in the water: green and turquoise:

Heading home: good friends

In the low evening light, the grasses seemed to be illuminated from within:

Grasses in the sun after the rain

And here is a “common blue” butterfly, which is sadly not a very common sight these days:

A blue butterfly amongst the silverweed. Isle of Harris, July 2011.

I love how the setting sun is caught and reflected by the windows in the houses, as well as by the water:

Luskentyre at sunset

It was light until past my bedtime.  Here is the sky after 11:00.  The twilight lingers for such a long time that I could still see the outlines of the mountains close to midnight one night:

Same view as above: looking west across Luskentyre, 11:10 pm, July 27, 2011.

At the end of our week, we cleaned the cottage as best we could, and said a very fond farewell.  As I mentioned before, we’ve stayed there every year for the past 12 years.  Because the Dafter is no longer at an age where being given a bucket and a spade is all that is required to delight her, we had already decided that next sumer we’ll take a break from Harris and go somewhere with a few more entertainments on offer.  When we went to visit the woman whose son now owns the cottage – whom we have become friends with over the years – she told us that this may be the last summer the cottage will be for rent.  So we said a very sad farewell indeed.  But life goes on!

We drove down to Rodel to while away some of the hours before our next ferry trip:

A friendly dog wanting to play at the pier in Rodel.

We had a coffee at the Rodel Hotel, which is at the pier.  There is a plaque on the side of the Hotel that marks an important occasion:  “QUEEN ELIZABETH LANDED HERE 17th August 1956, RODEL, HARRIS”.  She had only been Queen for four years at that time.  When the Royal Family still sailed about in the Royal Yacht Britannia, they used to enjoy dropping by the Outer Hebrides, calling in at places like the Rodel Hotel.  I’ve heard stories from locals about stumbling across the Royal Family having a picnic on a beach on the Western Isles in years gone by.

Liz wuz ere

We also had time to visit the Harris Tapestry, in An Clachan (the Community Co-operative) in Leverburgh.  It was stitched in 2000, and is a beautiful work of art celebrating the island’s history:

Detail from the Harris Tapestry (Tarbert and Scalpay panel)

And then it was time to sail across the Sound of Harris to North Uist, on our way to Benbecula.

The "Loch Portain" coming in to Leverburgh, Isle of Harris.

I’ll post about Benbecula, and the end of our trip, next!  If you have made it this far down the post, I wish you a good end of the week and start of the weekend.



  1. It’s confirmed…I must visit the Islands as soon as I can! What a lovely relaxing time you all had and the colours of the sea are amazing…so is the cardigan you are wearing by the pier. Enjoy your weekend x

  2. Post all the pictures you want! I’ve always wanted to visit the Isles and I am doing so vicariously through your blog! What a beautiful place, a lovely vacation, wonderful memories for you and your family.

  3. I’m with Suze in that you can post all the pictures you want. Each one makes me think I need to visit.

  4. What a magical place. Thank you for the wonderful tour. I loved all the pictures, they capture such a peacful atmostphere.
    The tapestry looks wonderfully ornate.

  5. Luskentyre at sunset …. a gorgeous picture of the sky that goes on forever. Highland skies are so magnificent. Your blog reads like a story of your time there. I can feel the bittersweetness of your time there possibly being your last and the thought that the cottage may have reached its time to move on too. Beautiful pictures! and as others have said, a tribute to Scotland’s islands.

  6. I am thoroughly enjoying spending your vacation with you! The colors of the sea and sky are so beautiful, and the blue butterfly to match! It is so wonderful that you have had 12 years to enjoy such a lovely place, but all things must pass… at least you will have the treasured memories.
    We are having the cold and rainy weather here in Washington all summer, too, if it makes you feel any better to know, but so wonderful that your holiday was sunny. Scotland is a beautiful place. So nice to get a personal tour!

  7. and I learned a new Scottish word, dreich, never enough words for bad weather 🙂

  8. What a beautiful place to vacation. It must have been a little sad to say goodbye to the cottage but I know how it is with teens, My older son has declared that the cabin where we go “blows.” Now

  9. Your promotional activities are working! I am already lobbying here for a visit to the Outer Hebrides SOON!
    12 years is a good run in one place. Although The Dafter may have outgrown it now, you can be sure that in a few years it will have become one of the most magical places of her childhood.

  10. Thank you all! I’m glad you’re enjoying the photos. I have one more installment to go, and then it’s back to Life in Aberdeen and other random musings.

    Knitsister – I’m glad you’re enjoying the colours! The jacket is an Alice Starmore pattern that I started in Harris ten years ago, and still wear all the time. It’s from her “In the Hebrides” book, appropriately.

    Suze and Stuart – I’m so glad you are taking this vicarious trip along with me! One thing I haven’t any photos of is the Highland Midge, which is a nuisance but it’s not always present, especially if there’s a bit of a breeze.

    Suzy – the tapestry is very impressive indeed. Perhaps I’ll do a post just on it someday.

    ajb and Karen – just as you say, thinking we may not go back to the cottage is bittersweet, but it added more sweetness than bitterness to our week.

    Dorit – ha ha, never enough words for bad weather! Yes, “dreich” is a good one, it sounds like what it describes.

    Sigrid – oh you have left us hanging! Now…. ? I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one whose teenager finds our favy holiday place BORING. But…

    …. Linda, I take comfort from the idea that in years to come she will remember all the golden moments. My philosophy is, quit while we’re ahead!

  11. Lovely photos and great place for visit. This time I was interested in Harris Tapestry. That (Tarbert hotel) is awesome work full with many interesting details!

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