Posted by: christinelaennec | April 22, 2015

Staying on the Isle of Scalpay

On Friday, April 10th, I travelled from Glasgow to the Isle of Scalpay, off the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.  I left home at 9 am, and took the train from Glasgow to Inverness.

A map of the West Coast of Scotland, with my train, road and ferry routes marked, between Glasgow and the Isle of Scalpay.

A map of the West Coast of Scotland, with my train, road and ferry routes marked, between Glasgow and the Isle of Scalpay.  I have also included some other places that I’ve mentioned in blog posts.

There was still quite a lot of snow on the mountains between Perth and Inverness:

The Cairngorms seen from the train between Perth and Inverness.  10 April 2015.

The Cairngorms seen from the train between Perth and Inverness. 10 April 2015.

From Inverness I took the bus to Ullapool, and then the ferry across the Minch to Stornoway.  Because the new ferry’s gangplank is still being built, we foot passengers had to board via the car deck:

Foot passengers boarding the new ferry via the car deck.  We walked past workmen still building the new gangplank.  10 April 2015.

Foot passengers boarding the new ferry via the car deck. We walked past workmen still building the new gangplank (seen on the left). 10 April 2015.

I will do a separate post about the new ferry, the Loch Seaforth.  The crossing time is down to two and a half hours rather than three.  Because of the Easter holidays there were a lot of people, cars and lorries to load and unload, and we arrived in Stornoway a bit late.  The car hire man was waiting uncomplainingly, and soon I was off again, driving down to Scalpay.  I was glad that I know the road well, as it was dark, misty going over the Clisham, and there were a few places where the sheep were sleeping in the road.  I got to my destination just after 10 pm.

If you read my posts from my trip to Harris last April, you’ll know that I have friends on Scalpay.  But, although I have visited Harris almost every year since 1996, I had never before stayed on Scalpay.  I was so very glad that I did!

I had booked a room at the newly-opened Two Harbours Guest House, which takes its name from the fact that you can see both the North and South harbours from its windows.

Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.  22 April 2015.

Two Harbours Guest House with the North Harbour behind, Isle of Scalpay. 11 April 2015.

The breakfasts were delicious, and they cater for vegetarians and gluten-free diets.  This is fairly unusual out in the islands. I also have a real affection for the Portmeiron china, which an old family friend once had:

A delicious breakfast.

A delicious breakfast, with vegetarian sausage and homemade bread (missing a bite!).  Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.

The house was once a manse, and I was told that the room I stayed in, which had views out to both the harbours, was where Communion used to be served!

My room:  windows looking towards the South Harbour, Isle of Scalpay.

My room: windows looking towards the South Harbour, Isle of Scalpay.

My room:  view towards the North Harbour.

My room: view towards the North Harbour.

The house has been beautifully done up and was warm and comfortable:

Lovely touches at Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.

Lovely touches at Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.  The badge on my jacket says “Knitter”!

The owners of the guest house were incredibly welcoming.  I had a key to my room and was able to come and go as I pleased, which was great.

On the first morning of my stay, they invited me to have a look at the garden.  There were all sorts of birds in the trees.  Redwings were plentiful, and sparrows and wrens.  I didn’t hear the call of the cuckoo, but was told that it was heard just a few days after I was there.

Part of the garden at Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.

Part of the garden at Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.  The brown on the trees is caused by salty sea-spray during the winter.

This is the view from the wall at the end of the garden:

View of the North Harbour from the wall of Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay.  11 April 2015.

View of the North Harbour from the wall of Two Harbours Guest House, Isle of Scalpay. 11 April 2015.

Outside the wall, presumably escapees from a former garden, are raspberry canes!  In my next post I will take you along my morning walk on Scalpay.

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Responses

  1. I am so impressed with that breakfast line-up! Looks like you had everything available that you could possibly want. And your room is absolutely delightful, with different places to sit and views to take in. I’d be wanting to stay there for weeks.

  2. oh the sunshine just brings the island pictures alive into such beauty! I can feel the rest of being in that place right through the internet. What a special place to be. Someday, when I have learned to paint quite well, I want to have a holiday on the islands again so I can paint!!!!

  3. The scenery is amazing. It looks like such a beautiful and quiet place for a rest. What a lovely breakfast you had in a beautiful hotel. I look forward to hearing more about your trip.

  4. What a beautiful place, inside and out. Looking forward to the next instalment.

  5. Such beauty. We haven’t been for about 3 years so look forward to hearing more about your trip and the new ferry.

  6. What a fantastic find! That’s quite an epic public transport journey you had, but I imagine much more satisfying than just getting the plane from Glasgow.
    Haha – the escaping raspberries. My dad’s raspberries escaped like this, beyond the garden wall onto the embankment of the old railway line, and are annoyingly more vigourous than the carefully tended ones in the garden.

  7. Love visiting Scalpay but like you I have never actually stayed on the island unless I can count a night spent on a yacht in the harbour! Last time I visited Scalpay Linen and had a lovely chat with the owner:)

  8. Wow, Christine, that looks amazing. I have to confess I’d never heard of Scalpay, although looking at another map, I see it’s kind of the other side from Taransay which I did know about. Train, bus, ferry, car! You’re quite the traveller!

  9. Thankyou for this – it’s just fascinating. I’m looking forward to more.

  10. Loved this. Glad you had a delightful time. Beautiful country.

  11. What a beautiful place, it looks so relaxing!

  12. So pretty! Were you on your own?

  13. Thanks for all the comments!

    Kelly, yes this was a solo trip, the same as I did a year ago when I stayed in Tarbert. Our family is hoping to go together again this summer. We used to spend a week in Harris every year until the Dafter fell ill. We shall have to see if she can manage the journey and the stay…

    oldblack it was a wonderful place to stay, and I was very sad to leave after my four nights (although ready to get back home to my family).

    Heather, the light and the air in the Scottish countryside makes me long to learn to paint. Do you know the watercolours of Mairi Hedderwick? I thought of her illustrations very often on my trip.

    Linda – how funny that the escapees are more prolific than their pampered cousins!

    mudarissa – Sheila the weaver (Scalpay Linen) has just opened a shop in the old Scalpay School, along with some other craftspeople. I visited her there and bought a lovely tea-towel. I really hope they can stay there, it’s a great place in the heart of the village. I remember her shed at Outend, teeny tiny!


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