Fantastic rock strata on an un-named beach on the north coast of Berneray. Gneiss I understand, a metamorphic rock 542 to 4000 million years old. I thought geologists could be more precise than that.

Berneray, Gaelic Bheàrnaraigh, is said to come from the Norse bjarnar and ey meaning island of the bear. Whether bears survived here is hard to believe, it’s largely machair with no workable peat beds so blocks of peat for fuel had to be brought in by boat from Votersay and Stroma. Berneray no longer feels like an island due to its connection by a causeway to North Uist. In the 18th century, the 700 strong population was principally involved in the kelp trade, used to produce chemicals for the soap and glass industries. But following the Napoleonic wars the bottom dropped out the market, then poor harvests following by the potato famine caused families to abandoned the island. Many chose emigrated particularly to Nova Scotia. Its current population is around 120.

In the distance is Pabbay, or Pabaigh, which means the Priest’s Isle.

NF9383 map

North Uist Sunset

An unexpected sunset after a day of winds and passing squalls. From a rocky headland called Raicinis on the northern end of Traigh Stir near the township of Hosta.

NF7173 map

View from Sheabhal

Castlebay, Barra

I just had to bag Sheabhal, the highest hill on Barraigh. I know at 383m that it’s only 63m higher than Roseberry and the guidebook says it’s an easy climb from Castlebay but it’s been beckoning me. I climbed from the north from the small township of Borgh (Borve). Quite a tough climb. Pathless, steep, tussocky grass, spragnum moss, bogs. But the views from the top were worth it. Now a quick trot back down for breakfast.

Bàgh a’Deas

The south beach, one of three on Vatersay, clean, white and sandy; and the least frequented.

NL6393 map


Sheabhal, the highest hill on Barraigh.

At 1260’ the highest hill on Barraigh (Barra) in the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides where every place has several spellings of Gaelic as well as the Anglicised name. Sheabhal used to be called Heaval; even the latest Ordnance Survey map names it as Heabhal. The name itself has Norse roots: probably hav, the sea and fjall, a hill, and overlooks the scattered community of Bàgh a Chaisteil (or Castlebay), named not surprisingly after the Caistel Chiosmuil (Kisimul Castle) which dominates the bay. It’s the ancestral home of the Macneil clan but a 20th century restoration, the medieval one burnt two centuries earlier.

I feel as though I’ve cheated with today’s posting as it was taken from the ferry. The easiest photo so far.

Falls of Falloch

Parked up hoping for a brief wander on the hills but scope restricted by rivers, roads and rail to within 50 metres of the car park. 

Disappointing. Parked up hoping for a brief wander on the hills but scope restricted by rivers, roads and rail to within 50 metres of the car park. Too touristy for my liking.

CCTV operating

The Inglorious 12th minus one, to borrow from the title of Mark Avery’s book. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the annual slaughter on the moors. On Farndale Moor signs have gone up advising of CCTV monitoring. No matter I don’t own a horse and have no intention of biking along the track, I find these signs very intimidating but that after all is the intention. And very suspicious, are there sights not for public viewing? But it is Open Access Land so people are free to walk or run, sightsee and birdwatch and I am already planning my route exploring such features as South Flat Howe, The Honey Poke, Old Ralph’s Cross, Esklets Cross, Cooper Hill and Stony Ridge, the 1400′ ring contour in the distance on the photograph. Not to mention the scores of old bell pits from the 18th-century coal workings.

Is it practical to monitor around ten square kilometres of moorland? I doubt it. There were no obvious poles mounting the cameras and communications equipment, but maybe it’s just one of those little wildlife surveillance cameras. Or maybe they’re using drones.

Stoney Ridge map