Island hopping through the Western Isles

Day 3

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It’s a getup early, shower, pack up the campervan and don’t hang about morning as we need to check-in for our next ferry no later than 9 am. We leave Barra Sands and drive the short distance along the single track road, past the airport and to the ferry terminal, leaving enough time on route to stop and take some photos. There is a great place to get coffee and breakfast on the way.

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We joined the ferry lane with plenty of time to allow us to pop into Ardmhor Coffee for an espresso and a cappuccino and sample their baking delights. I came out with my hands full – espresso, cappuccino, croissants, blueberry scones and lemon drizzle cake. It’s always good to have food to hand; you never know when lunch might be!

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In the queue for the ferry, there were some locals, some commercial traffic, and lots of Campervans, Motorhomes and a Bicycle Tour. We board the ferry and soon get out and climb up the steps onto the upper deck to take in the view. Someone’s vehicle alarm is going off as the ferry sails to Eriskay. It’s a good idea to disable the vehicle alarm on ferries. There is an excellent view of the beach and Barra airport on our left and many smaller islands on our right. I love being on the water and getting a different perspective, especially being on the top deck of the small ferry.

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As we approach our next island, Eriskay, which is located between Barra and South Uist, we get a good view of Prince Charlie’s beach. I key our next destination into the Sat Nav and get directions to the AM Politician. A bar & restaurant named after the SS Politician which crashed on the rocks while carrying a cargo of whisky. The story is told in the book and film – Whisky Galore. It doesn’t open until lunchtime, and having just had our coffee and scone, we make a stop just for photos of the sign and the building. It doesn’t look like what you would imagine from the film; we were expecting a more traditional looking pub!

We veered off the main road to make a loop, which turned out to be past St Michael’s Church. Wow! What a good decision that was. The church was impressive, and the road was just one photo opportunity after another, with each bend greeting us with an even more spectacular view than the last.

We drive north towards South Uist and pass over the causeway connecting the two islands, completed in 2001.

Although we did lots of planning, we wanted to leave some flexibility in our route and timings, so our Ferries were booked and a few strategic campsites, but we had two nights left to figure out en route. South Uist was one of those nights with no campsite reservation, which gave us flexibility on where to stay and an extra feeling of adventure. We have a day ahead of us with a blank canvas until our next Ferry from Berneray the following morning.

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South Uist strikes us as being an altogether different landscape. It has mountains to the east, and low lying wetlands to the west, with the undulating road north between them. We pass some of the wild Eriskay ponies in a field at the side of the road.

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As we explored South Uist, we stopped at an unmarked beach to stretch our legs and time for a second coffee and sample the lemon drizzle cake.

We continue into North Uist, deciding whether to follow the road to the left or the right as it’s six or half dozen which route we take. We follow one road while looking for somewhere to have lunch, and we find Nammara seafood. It was bustling and would be quite a wait, so we decided to make some hot filled rolls in the campervan with a sea view.

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While looking for somewhere to stay for the night, we passed this cottage. We drove down a road to see if it led to a beach we had seen, but there wasn’t anywhere suitable that would not encroach on private land or be a bit cheeky, so we turned around to widen our search. Whilst we were admiring a beautiful house, we stopped to chat with a man working in the garden of a place on the opposite side of the road. He had built the gorgeous house opposite to rent out as a holiday cottage and was kind enough to point us in the direction of Clachan Sands campsite just a little bit further up the next road.

Clachan Sands has no toilets or showers yet; it is maintained by a farmer/crofter who owns the land. It is a simple but beautifully situated campsite with bins and an honesty box to pay for our overnight stay.

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We set up our tent housing the portapotti, squeezed some of our kit into the tent to give us more space inside the campervan, and took in the views.

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Two fantastic beaches are gracing this bit of headland, and yes, we prepare dinner and another sample of the Barra Gin, walk down to the nearby beach and sit down on the sand to catch the sun setting with cameras and phones. We both love being in the campervan beside the sea, for both the views and the sound. I was sleeping in the bed on the pop-top roof that night and was gently lulled to sleep to the sound of the waves.

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