We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Having taken the ferry from Uig on Skye up to Tarbert on the isle of Harris (Harris and Lewis are segments of the same large island, Harris below and Lewis on top), we got out our fleece, rain gear and hiking poles, and resumed our challenging hiking explorations of the Outer Hebrides.
On a rare lovely but cool morning, we were instructed to hike across this beautiful meadow (they are far and few between, but the wildflowers were in full bloom. This rare meadow habitat is called a Machair) and to climb that mountain in Hushinish. That was a heck of a no-trail climb, and the little plateau on top gave me vertigo.
Could you climb that without poles? No. Mrs. BD and another gal had to pull themselves up on hands and knees using heather as handles at some points to reach the peak. A good workout. This hill had a series of false summits. Sheesh, false summits are a bummer but hill walkers learn to expect them.
Lots of Harris and Lewis below the fold -
My resting spot about halfway up that thing:
Cming down, there was this Caribbean-looking beach
A typical road on Harris
Highland Cattle. Don't see many of them. We called them Tourist Cows. Not friendly at all, the bulls are threatening. But we were the only tourists. Hebrides animals (cattle and sheep) are feral in life style, roam wild, rarely encounter people, and tend to view humans as unwelcome interlopers. Not farm animals. When the owners want some meat, they hunt down a cow in the hills and butcher it.
The St. Clement's Church on South Harris (c 1520) was build for the McLeods. By 1560 the reformation shut it down and it has not been a church since then. The churchyard still in use for burials, though.
We did an extended hike around Scarpey, out to the lighthouse in mostly lashing rain and slipping in mud.
A lochlan on Scarpey (little lochs). They are everywhere, full of trout and crayfish. A post-glacial landscape. That's a patch of bracken in the heather.
Out at the lighthouse
Our hotel in Tarbert. Originally built as a hunting and fishing lodge for wealthy Brits
Very comfortable dining room. We had lots of laughs. Typical menu items: Crayfish Salad from local lochlans, mutton, grilled Bream with mashed, Cranberry pudding, rhubarb crumble. They call mutton "lamb," but whatever. That ain't lamb.
Another challenging hike, this a 9-miler in Hushinish
It starts like this. Sheesh, I hate this sort of thing
Then like this
A nice ramble here, to a lochlan and an abandoned croft but it's not the top yet. We saw a Golden Eagle up there.
Then you have to go up this
One of our group is a third of the way up
Coming down not too comfortable either, cuz all you could see was rocks and water right below. I tried only to watch my footing
After one of the grueling hikes, we took a 2-hour hike along one of the beaches before suppertime - boots off, pants rolled up, icy salt water for happy feet
Besides the Harris Tweed shop, we did two other touristy things up on Lewis - the Black Houses (traditional Outer hebrides dwellings, only abandoned in the last decade when the gummint gave them public housing):
And we looked at the standing stones of Callanish. The Hebrides have over 400 neolithic standing stone sites, mini-stonehenges. You can see old lazybeds in the field.
Drove to Stornoway,took the ferry across The Minch to Ullapool (in photo) and thence to Inverness.