The 2018 Easter weekend brought a continuation of wintry weather to mainland Scotland, but its islands to the NW were forecast mostly fair, if windy weather. Our group of four agreed that a trip to the Uists would make the best of opportunities for outdoors activities and afford us all the chance to see new places and overnight in new locations.
Our crossing from Uig to Lochmaddy left relatively punctually but the NE wind in the bay was blowing 30 knots and made safe berthing difficult for the smaller CalMac replacement ferry. Like a flight waiting for a landing window, we held off the North Uist coast for a couple of hours until conditions eased.
Seen from the west, from left to right (north to south), the peaks of Hecla, Beinn Corradail and Beinn Mhor which we'll cross on our walk in and out of Uisinis over the next 24 hours.
An unexpected warning. At this point, the group walked back to the hire car to collect tents 'just in case'. As it turned out, the warning of rats and an unsafe stove were somewhat alarmist. There was no sign of the former, and the Dowling stove burned clean and hot.
On Gleann Dorchaidh, one of us mused that the 2-3 miles over this rough and boggy ground was akin to that of Frodo and Sam's journey across the marshes to Mordor. Carrying 12 kg on your back made every step a bit more squishy and sinky :-)
As the sea eagle flies (and we saw many of them on our journey), just 4 miles from the nearest road, but Huisinis takes hours to reach by foot from any direction. Remote and atmospheric, a real privilege to spend time here and use the bothy's basic but welcome facilities.
While a warm stove awaited within, Craig had hung his pop-up solar powered lamp the bothy window and I briefly painted its walls with the light from my head torch. Both of us love our night-time photography :-)
On South Uist, one of the Gatliff Trust hostels was the setting for our second night's stay on the islands. Situated close to the machair, this well-equipped hostel offers plenty of bunks for travellers and great camping ground nearby for those who prefer to stay closer to the elements.
The machair isn't just a rich pasture for wildlife, but for grazing livestock too. On North Uist, the last of the land to the west before Newfoundland are the outer islands of St Kilda and Boreray.
In the village of Borgh on Berneray is an inlet by its harbour known simply as seal bay. The eponymous visitors posed nicely for me on some rocks, enjoying the fresh water falling from the sky !
Weather conditions dictated an early start from Lochmaddy with the ferry scheduled to leave at 5 am. In the event it was delayed by a further 2 hours which afforded the opportunity to catch another sunrise.
On the return home, our earlier start meant we had time for a quick walk up to Skye's Quiraing to round off an awesome weekend on the islands. The curiously named 'Prison' is one of many mountain outcrops, and appears to my eye closer in form to a fort than to a detainee encampment.