Posted by: christinelaennec | August 15, 2015

Holiday on Harris, part 1

This was our first trip back to Harris after an absence of four years (the Dafter fell ill with ME/CFS just after we went in August 2011).  Prior to that we had been every year since 1996.  In the past, when we lived in Aberdeen, we used to leave very early and travel all day in order to reach the cottage by the evening.  The Dafter finds car travel very difficult now, so we’d decided to break up our journey into two days each way.  As it turned out, Gay has arthritis in her hips, and so this arrangement was far better for her, too.

After a night in the lovely Kintail Lodge Hotel, we took the afternoon ferry from Uig in Skye to Tarbert, on the Isle of Harris:

On the ferry from Uig, Skye, to Tarbert, in Harris. 2 August 2015.

Harris on the horizon!  On the ferry from Uig, Skye, to Tarbert, in Harris. 2 August 2015.

Michael took this great photo of the lighthouse on Scalpay – which I walked to on my solo trip in April.

Eilean Glas lighthouse on the Isle of Scalpay, seen from the ferry.

Eilean Glas lighthouse on the Isle of Scalpay, seen from the ferry.

The Dafter was deeply happy to return to her old haunts, and immediately reclaimed her usual bed at the cottage.  The next day we set out:

Sheep on the West Side of Harris, 3 August 2015.

Sheep on the West Side of Harris, 3 August 2015.

We had a wonderful time doing all the things we always enjoyed doing, starting with going to the beach.  The Dafter took her art supplies, and Gay and I did some shell-hunting.

Michael, with Isabel doing a pastel drawing. Traigh Iar, Isle of Harris, 3 August 2015.

Michael, with the Dafter doing a pastel drawing. Traigh Iar, Isle of Harris, 3 August 2015.  The standing stone on the hill was once the meeting place of Clan MacLeod.

The weather was a mix of sun, showers, mist, rainbows – all of it constantly shifting and changing.  (As the photos from Monday the 3rd show.) Gay was absolutely entranced by the colours of Harris:

Rain over Taransay, Traigh an Iar, Isle of Harris. 3 August 2015.

Rain over Taransay, Traigh Iar, Isle of Harris. 3 August 2015.

We had a beautiful afternoon at Rodel, where Donnie at the Rodel Hotel recognised us and was happy to see us again.  The chef kindly made chips for the Dafter!

The Dafter at Rodel Pier, Isle of Harris. 3 August 2015.

The Dafter at Rodel Pier, Isle of Harris. 3 August 2015.

Driving back up the West Coast, this viewpoint is the one we are lucky enough to have a Willie Fulton painting of:

Looking out past Seilebost beach to Luskentyre, with the hills of North Harris beyond. 3 August 2015.

Looking out past Seilebost beach to Luskentyre, with the hills of North Harris beyond. 3 August 2015.

After a rest, the Dafter was well enough to come back out to another beloved beach, Luskentyre:

Luskentyre beach, about 10 pm, 3 August 2015.

Luskentyre beach, about 10 pm, 3 August 2015.

The Dafter has begun using cuff crutches as a mobility aid, and these have been of some help.  She had worried she wouldn’t be able to do much on Harris, but although she needed to rest every day, and spent one full day in the cottage painting and resting, she was delighted to have the strength to walk to the beaches and to take other types of excursions with us.

Gay, who is a plantswoman, was astounded at the wildflowers on the machair.  Our first evening at the cottage, I mentioned to her that there were wild orchids near the sea, so she went for a little walk, and came back gasping with excitement at seeing three different varieties, “just right there!”

Wildflowers on the machair, Isle of Harris, August 2015.

Wildflowers on the machair, Isle of Harris, August 2015.

One afternoon we were able to visit Willie Fulton at Ardbuidhe Cottage Gallery.  He was sorry that the Dafter has had such a rough four years, but was very encouraging to her about her art and life in general.  She was happy to see him (and his wonderful studio) again, and Gay thought his and Moira’s work captured the beauty of Harris very well.

The Dafter and Gay in front of Willie Fulton's gallery, Ardbuidhe Cottage Gallery, Drinishader, Isle of Harris. 5 August 2015.

The Dafter and Gay in front of Willie Fulton’s gallery, Ardbuidhe Cottage Gallery, Drinishader, Isle of Harris. 5 August 2015.

We had quite a social few days at the cottage:  friends to tea, other friends to lunch, a friend of the Dafter’s came to stay overnight, and we had visits from and (for Gay and I) to our friend Catriona, whom I have written about before.  She’s now 80 and full of wonderful stories.  Gay found her absolutely delightful.

Boat of flowers, Tarbert, Isle of Harris. August 2015.

Boat of flowers, Tarbert, Isle of Harris. August 2015.

I’ll finish showing and telling you about our lovely holiday in Harris in my next post.

It’s been a busy week back in Glasgow, with various appointments, piles of laundry to do of course, and then Friday was the Dafter’s first day back at school.  She managed to stay for three hours, which is great.  Fingers crossed she can achieve her objective of studying two subjects this year (the rest of Art, plus Photography) – we shall see.  We’ve learned by now that health must come first, second and third, before anything else.

For Katharine Stewart fans, I apologise for being about a month behind in following her Garden in the Hills – I will return to that project.

I hope you’re all having a good weekend!

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Responses

  1. Beautiful, I feel uplifted after those lovely photos, thank you. So glad everyone had a great time, you make me want to go back to Harris.

  2. What a wonderful, wonderful trip this must have been, in so many ways! I can just imagine how special it was to return after a four year absence as a family. Surely there was a small feeling of triumph over hardship. I am so glad the Dafter had a good time even though she still had to be careful with her energy. The colors in the photos are amazing. I have a picture from Skye on my desktop now — the atmospheric “grey” in the sky communicates so well that I feel I could jump through the screen and be back there.

  3. Oh my what beautiful colors. It must be so wonderful to live that close to the sea. The way you describe the places around you, I am thinking a trip to Scotland would be worth the effort. So pretty and so glad you had a good time.

  4. It sounds like you all had a wonderful time and even the weather looks favourable! I hope Dafter continues to improve and enjoys school. Your garden looks lovely too, mine is beginning to pick up a bit since we’ve had a couple of dry days now!! Hope your friend is enjoying her stay. xx

  5. Oh how I wish I could be where these beautiful photos are taken. It’s midnight here and its a warm 85 degrees as we’re in the midst of a heat wave. How I long for gray skies and cool temps. After reading all your wonderful articles on the Hebrides, I really want to make a trip to this amazing place. It’s so nice that all of you were able to go as a family. It looks like you had a great time. My best wishes to you. Pat xx

  6. ah, Christine, what a lovely time for you. We visited Harris several times from our base in Stornoway this summer, and went on an organised walk to the machair at Hushinish as well as a walk to spot eagles (both organised by the North Harris trust). We also had an extended-family visit to Scarp. The west side of Harris really is incredibly beautiful and unspoiled, isn’t it?
    I’m very glad you had a great time.

    • Glad you also had a good Hebridean time this summer. I thought of S when I was in Tarbert – the distillery doesn’t seem to be open yet. We went to Hushinish years ago and have never again braved the road. Maybe we would find it less daunting now that we have many more years’ experience of single-track roads on the islands? Must try again. I think Hugh Dan MacLennan is writing a book about Scarp? Interesting place. Happy Back to School!

  7. Lovely place, lovely dafter.

  8. What a lovely post. I still haven’t been to Harris. The beaches look fantastic. I agree with you, the wild flowers this summer have been fabulous. I’m so happy that the Dafter came with you and had a holiday as well. I do often think of you and wonder how you are getting along. The photos of her look lovely and she looks very happy. Good luck with starting school. I hope all goes well for your daughter. xx

  9. I am so glad you managed a family trip. We still haven’t booked a trip as my Dad is still not fit enough to travel, time will tell if we will manage a trip this year. It all looks so familiar and beautiful.

  10. Quels magnifiques paysages ! Je souhaite une bonne rentrée à votre fille si pleine de courage. Amitiés.

  11. What beautiful scenery, and you sound so happy describing your holiday together.

  12. I must try to get to the Isle of Harris, on my next trip in 2016. I love Skye and could just live there. Very nice post !

  13. I’m so glad to hear you all had a refreshing trip. The pictures are beautiful. Your Dafter has such a lovely smile. I can imagine there is a lot of artistic inspiration to be had with those stunning views.

  14. So glad you were all able to get there. It must have been a particular affirmation for the Dafter. No need to get up at dawn to nab your sun lounger on these beaches.

  15. Dear all,

    Thank you so much for sharing our feeling of celebration about this holiday, and for enjoying the beauty of Harris. Yes, we did kind of have a feeling of victory (Heather) and affirmation (Linda). If anyone is wanting to holiday on Harris, I would advise early booking, especially if you want to go during the school holidays. Lorraine and Meggie, I do hope you can go.

    The Dafter’s school year has gotten off to a good start – fingers crossed – and so thank you for all your good wishes on that score as well.

    Part 2 of our Harris week will come soon…


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