A Hebridean Odyssey

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LawrenceCornellPhoto's avatar

And I am back from my first trip to the Outer Hebrides. Here is my GPS trace for the time I was there. I left Oban for Castlebay in the south on the Monday and then worked my way up to leave Stornaway for Ullapool on the Wednesday nine days later. The GPS failed on the last ferry to Ullapool because it was a much newer ferry and all the electronics from the bridge interfered with my little unit.

Whole trip

The Outer Hebrides or the Western Isles (also known as Na h-Innse Gall or the Long Isle) is a group of islands that lie off the north west coast of Scotland. The Isle Of Skye lies between the Outer Hebrides and the mainland. On my trip I got the Calmac ferry from Oban to Castlebay on the Isle of Barra in the south. I was there Monday and Tuesday night then moved on by ferry to Eriskay and a drive through South Uist, Benbecula into north Uist. I stayed there Wednesday and Thursday night then on by ferry from Berneray to Leverburgh on Harris. I stayed near Tarbert for two nights. Then on Sunday drove up into Lewis and the last stop for three nights at Aird Uig before getting the ferry back to Ullapool on the mainland. The ferry from Oban to Castlebay at the beginning is four and a half hours. The others much shorter.

On day two I came down with a heavy cold which developed into a nasty chest infection which was a bit unfortunate but what can you do? So it was a case of pushing through. This was a trip of a lifetime for me. I have to say though that I loved my time on the islands. They are all different and you have to make a mental adjustment each time you change island as they feel so different from each other. Barra, in the south, is a beautiful small island. You can drive round it in an hour easily. The centre is a small town called Castlebay where the ferry comes in. There is a surprise in the north of the island though as they have a small airport and the runway is a beach. I made sure I was there to see the small plane come in. It drops out of the clouds and slides onto the sand before the long taxi up to the small airport building. After about a half hour turn round it is off again.

The middle islands of South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist are, it has to be said, quite bleak. They are flat and wet. A land of joined up puddles.

When you arrive on Harris it is almost a shock after the Uists. Harris is much more mountainous and generally pretty. It also has magnificent white beaches such as the famous Luskentyre. The water is a vivid turquoise even on an overcast day. The drive from Harris up into Lewis is very beautiful with an ever changing landscape. Lewis has the largest town on the Outer Hebrides in Stornaway. I was staying way out in the west where the coast and landscape is quite stunning and varied. I was about 20 miles from Callanish where the incredible standing stones are. Unluckily for me the weather turned a bit here so I didn't really get good conditions for photographing the stones but I did what I could. I did travel up to the northern most point of the islands at the Butt Of Lewis where there is a lighthouse and some sea stacks. It really does feel very remote up there. Small settlements with little in the way of amenities. Strangely, and most welcome it was, where I was staying on Lewis within about 4 miles there was a small general store with a small garage where you could buy fuel 24 hours a day. They had a machine in the lobby of the shop which you could get to out of shop hours that enabled you to buy fuel. That was so useful. When you are on the islands you have to know where the fuel is and where food is.

Sunday is still regarded as the Sabbath on the Islands and nearly everything is closed. This is something you have to be aware of. A friend of mine told me that when they moved to the islands 30 years ago you would not do your washing and hang your washing out on the line on a Sunday and you wouldn't mow your lawn. They said that nowadays you might hang your washing out (but probably not) and you still would not mow your lawn. The Monday was a bank holiday for the funeral of the Queen so everything was closed then too.

I will be writing more about my trip but I will just add that there is a strong sense of community wherever you go on the islands but at the same time a sense of solitude. There is no doubting the fact that you are in a remote place and you rely on the ferries for everything coming into the islands. When the ferries don't run you go without. Sometimes this is because of weather and sometimes it is because of mechanical failure. Apparently it has not been a good year for the ferries and the weather has also not been good so summer was very short. There feels like there is a lot of space everywhere. You always seem to find yourself looking over there at things and never over here if that makes sense. Given that the islands are not that big the sense of space is palpable. Maybe it is because a lot of it is quite flat so you can see a relatively long way. You often find yourself on a coast looking out of the islands too instead of into the islands. It felt strange and I was very aware of it at the time. It just feels like everything is always over there. I'm not sure I've ever felt quite like that before.

Now I am back though I have been desperately catching up as my various wifi links were patchy and a bit flaky on the islands. This was to be expected of course. So I have been rushing through all your work from the last few weeks. I have probably faved and run a little more than I usually do but have tried to leave comments as much as possible. I will now be sharing as much as I can and hoping that you will get to see your own work featured or that you will really enjoy the work of others that catch your eye. Please fav or leave a comment if you can. We all like to know that someone else has enjoyed our work. It can really give you a lift somedays. Here we go then. It's feature time so please enjoy :)

Serene Sunrise
Autumn Mantra
Decline of Darkness
A breath of Hope
BW Mountains
Tunnel View Sunrise
Snow Clouds Over Kebler Pass
Rewarding Light
Forest Of Make Believe
A Crested Butte Fall
Alpi di Siusi light play
Mountain's Veil
Written in Water
Marshland Path
Mountain Valley
The Birth of Eden
Forest of Liars : Traveling with clouds
Serene Days
Perfect Season
Counting The Hours And Minutes Too
There Isn't Going To Be A Middle Anymore
This is What You're Changing Me In To
Learning to Wear Gold
Ladybower Reservoir 2
Sunrise over stormy seas
she became the sun

Dying Dreams
Another marine cemetery
Aspen tree
Autumn again
Losing myself in nature's beauty
Redhorn Pass
narrative plot
electric stone
All These Moments That I've Missed
Asking Me Things You Want Back From Me
How I Want Your Soul To Keep On
Flying Whole, High, Wide
Way to the Asgard
Wandering through the dark
Scenografia d'alberi in bianco e nero
Occhi alberi e nebbia
The Three Sisters
Across the water
Home of birds
Na Gorze Zakochanych
universal dog
Et la lumiere fut...
It's not just an old house ...
Qui est Pueblo?
Rotten Rowing Boat In Sepia
Dreaming the world away
Porvoo was colorful
Simply A Bouquet....
A midautumns dream
Gutshaus Striesdorf
Laage Markt
Pomegranate Branch
Only With A Leaf Can I Talk Of The Forest
Changing palette
Woodland walk
The Hermitage, Perthshire
Sublimation #2
Pickled Mountains
Stubai in a Nutshell
Open your eyes, slowly
A Long Day's Night
A Way
choosing the night
under the veil
the language of flowers
the end of the song
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That's all folks :D I do hope you found something to like amongst this selection. I have to say that the shear amount of wonderful work you all make blows me away. So much good stuff. I find it almost impossible to leave any of it out which is why these features have become so big. It's just that I love so much of what you do. I am very grateful for it too. I get so much enjoyment from it. Now I have many photos to go through of my own so I will leave you for now.

Take care of yourselves, each other and your loved ones. Keep on creating and keep sharing the love. Be kind, be creative, be amazing. Much love to you all :heart:

Reading: The Land Of Maybe: A Faroe Islands Year by Tim Ecott

Listening to: Beluga Lagoon

Watching: Taskmaster

Eating: Halibut Steaks with pesto pasta

Drinking: Coffee (again)

Playing: At photography

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Hermetic-Wings's avatar

I am desperately waiting for your latest shots dear LAwrence my friend. Thanks for featuring me also :D