Posted by: christinelaennec | April 18, 2016

To the North Harris Eagle Observatory (with knitting)

On the Sunday afternoon, I left Huisinis and headed back along the road I’d travelled.  I always find it interesting how very different any route looks when going back in the other direction.

View heading to Glen Meavaig from Huisinis, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

View heading to Glen Meavaig from Huisinis, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

The rain, which had been a steady drizzle, strengthened a bit:

The road is probably more travelled by sheep than by cars!

The road is probably more travelled by sheep than by cars!

But I decided to press on to my objective:  the eagle observatory in Glen Meavaig (pron MEE-a-vayk).  There is a good car park on the road, and a very clear track leading up the Glen.  In fact the track continues north through the glen, east through the mountains, and ends near Bogha Glas, close to the Lewis/Harris border.  I was very glad only to be hiking the mile and a half in!

Beginning the walk up the Glen. April 2016.

Beginning the walk up the Glen. April 2016.

My map told me the name of the prominent peak to the right:  Sròn Scourt.  “Sròn” means nose, which sounds about right.  I doubted I would see any eagles, as the rain was thickening, and you couldn’t really see the heights where they live.

Mist rolling over the hills of North Harris.

Mist rolling over the hills of North Harris.

The peaks on the other side are called “Cathadail Grànnda”.  Grànnda means “ugly” – a bit harsh, don’t you think?  The track follows first on one side of the river (Abhainn Meavaig, the River Meavaig), and then crosses to the other side:

Crossing the river as I go further into the glen.

Crossing the river as I go further into the glen.

What really struck me on this walk was that on all sides there was water.  There were waterfalls tumbling off the hillsides, water gurgling in the bog, water trickling through streams.  The air was full of the various sounds of moving water.  I was very grateful for the well-constructed track, because if I had stepped off in any direction I would have been in serious trouble, up to my knees or more in water:

Water everywhere! Glen Meavaig, Isle of Harris, April 2016.

Water everywhere! Glen Meavaig, Isle of Harris, April 2016.

The sky darkened:

Getting closer, as the rain lowers.

Getting closer, as the rain lowers.

The holiday selfie:

Me!

Me!

And there, around a curve in track, it was!  I was very grateful for the wooden ramp (covered with chicken wire) that led you from the track into the little building.

The North Harris Eagle Observatory, Glen Meavaig, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

The North Harris Eagle Observatory, Glen Meavaig, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

I was even more glad I wasn’t trying to hike through to the other side, having read this sign.  I couldn’t imagine trying to ford a river, in such wet conditions, in the middle of nowhere!  Then again, there must be experienced outdoors people for whom it would be possible.

Notices inside the eagle observatory.

Notices inside the eagle observatory.

It is indeed a wonderful feeling, peering into the glen looking for eagles.  Golden eagles and sea eagles nest here, though I wouldn’t know the difference, or indeed if I was seeing a buzzard.  I think all birds of prey were happily tucked away somewhere equally dry while I was there.

Quite a view!

Quite a view!

I was very glad of a chance to take my wet coat and gear off for a while.  The hide isn’t heated, but I spread my things out anyway.

Drying out my knitwear.

Drying out my knitwear.

And I just sat there and knitted!

And making some more!

Making some more knitted accessories: the Orangery Shawl.

I was also very glad to find I had tucked a peanut and chocolate bar into my bag, because I was getting hungry!

I enjoyed a peaceful time just sitting, watching, listening, and knitting.  And after a while I was ready to go back.  The hike back down to the car took me less than 25 minutes, because it was downhill and also because I was going at a clip (though carefully, as to not sprain my ankle).  The rain was pretty heavy and I was very eager to get back to Tarbert for my dinner.

By 7:00 I was going up the steps of the Harris Hotel, which is so familiar that it feels like home.  I stayed there on my first solo jaunt two years ago.  I posted about the hotel here.  I love the garden:

The garden of the Harris Hotel, Tarbert, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

The garden of the Harris Hotel, Tarbert, Isle of Harris. April 2016.

It seems like such a feat to me, to make a garden out of the rocky landscape.  And I love seeing trees when I’m on the islands.  I love trees at any time, but they are precious commodities in that windswept coastal environment.

I had a delicious tea, including a lovely apple crumble.  If I hadn’t been driving, I would have treated myself to a wee dram, I think!  I’m not much of a drinker, but I had that pleasantly tired out feeling that you get after an afternoon of fresh air and some exertion.  I got more knitting done, and the waiter was very friendly and kind.

As darkness was really descending, I drove back to Scalpay and to a lovely warm bed.  My only regret was that I had eaten so much that the delicious home-made Victoria sponge that had appeared by my tea tray was just a cake too far.  It’s not often I say that!

In my next two posts, I’ll share my third and final day on Harris.  The weather was fab!

Thank you all for reading and I wish you an excellent start to the week.

 

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Responses

  1. What an adventure! I love the browns, greens, and pinks of the hills, and the ruggedness of it all. The hide looks like a perfect stop for a view and rest. Looking forward to the rest of your trip.♥

  2. Another lovely post, I greatly enjoy your tours of Harris. That was quite an adventure going to the eagle observatory. The roads seem so smooth everywhere, no doubt due to the dearth of traffic.

  3. what a fabulous journey! do you rent a car when you are on the island? and I love apple crumble. 🙂

  4. Enjoying your travelogue about a part of my native land I’ve yet to visit. A solo walk is a very different thing to a walk with family, but deeply refreshing. I had to laugh when I saw the title of your post, given my blog post yesterday!

  5. Really impressed that you weren’t put off by the weather. We took a walk there last time we were in Harris and found the scenery so atmospheric. I’m sure you’ve seen Willie Fulton’s paintings of that area and that day really was like steeping into one of them! We were lucky enough to see a couple of birds of prey- possibly eagles and also some deer.

  6. All I can say is wonderful! I read this post with such pleasure that I hated to come to the end. The landscape is so different from anything I’ve ever seen. And, I love those sheep in the road. My week is off to a good start. We had very warm temps these past couple of days. Looking forward to reading your next installment. Hugs, Pat

  7. What a lovely hike Christine, as always when reading your of your travels, I feel I have been hiking too. There is an eagle living on an island in the lake here, every so often he sails past my house. It always fills me with awe, and gratitude to have him so close. Thank you for your kind words at Winkel’s. Very much apprechiated. Blessings, Pam in Norway

  8. You are very brave, to explore such lonely spots by yourself, Christine, but then sheep and birds do count as company, I suppose 🙂 Having uninterrupted time to oneself is a rare treat for you, I know, and I’m glad you were able to enjoy a good time of knitting in a lovely location. xx

  9. You certainly impressed me with your stamina in the awful weather. To sit, knitting in such a beautiful spot is a treat I can only dream of. Thank you for sharing your wonderful day.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing Christine! You have a way with words…and photos 🙂 xx

  11. Oh that observatory is wonderful! I wouldn’t mind having something like that around here! I kept waiting to see if there was some sort of kettle inside because all it was missing was a cup of tea. But perhaps there is no electricity out to it and I haven’t heard of solar kettles yet. 🙂 I would enjoy spending time in that observatory!


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