A quick weekend dash around the Outer Hebrides takes in the Isle of Lewis, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay. Flying through Edinburgh from London, a Friday night in Stornoway is the first port of call. It is not the most energetic of towns but an expensive Indian restaurant and a few rowdy Glaswegians on a weekend jolly somewhat livens things up. After an excellent kipper for breakfast, a drive taking just over an hour down to Leverbrough in Harris to catch the ferry across to Berneray and then towards Eriskay in the south.
Along the way, a short walk around Barpa Langass, a neolithic burial chamber and the stone circle preceded by a lovely picnic of smoke scallops, hot and cold smoke salmon and oat cakes from the Hebridean Smokehouse. The scenery along the way changes from the flatter and mossy Lewis, the dramatic and sheer Harris and becomes gradually less appealing in the Uists. Though the coastline and beaches impress throughout and the highlight can be found in the west coast of Berneray and the Port of Ness beach on the north tip of Lewis.
The roads are empty and even on the partly single tracked main road, progress is swift in the wee Nissan Micra hire car. Eriskay is reached in mid afternoon and The Politician pub (named after the ship wreck made famous by the film Whiskey Galore) provides the refreshment and evening meal. The special of scallops and haggis fare pretty well despite the slapdash presentation on the plate. The night stay in a B&B across the road confirms the high standard of decoration, furnishing and amenities throughout the trip, but the thinned walls in all these places means everyone wakes up if someone decides to use the bathroom in the night.
A short walk around Rubha Aird a’ Mhuile spot some inquisitive seals poking their heads out from the sea and loud and angry terns escorting us along the way. A few hours in the sun on an empty beach of Berneray and a quick dip in the refreshing sea makes a very pleasurable few hours wait for the ferry. A drink in the idyllic port at the Rodel Hotel after the ferry back to Harris set up a sumptuous home cooked meal at the Pairc an t-Srath Guest House in Borve with a great view of the bay and Atlantic Ocean. The main of scallops, langoustines and salmon really shows off the local produce and Lena and Richard’s hospitality. The porridge and herring the next morning is also outstanding.
The final morning takes in drive along the dramatic Golden Road, Harris tweed museum and shop. Then off to the sites of Lewis such as the standing stones of Calanais build in 2900BC, Dun of Carloway dated from 1st Century BC and the more recently restored black house village of Gearrannan, And finally driving all the way to the northern tip of Lewis to the Port of Ness and back towards Stornoway to catch the late afternoon flight back to Edinburgh.
Altogether a great trip with a variety of landscape and weather, stunning beaches with clear blue water and good food. Perfect for a long weekend from London that is easy to get to and yet culturally distinct, especially when one is surrounded by Gaelic speakers in a shop.