I was just thinking that I really should book the ferry to Stornoway this week for our summer trip when I started to remember our first camping trip to the Islands.
2015 was the year we decided to start to explore the Western Isles with a tent and two small boys. But we were prepared. A tent fit for the worst of Everest basecamp weather, all manner of warm cloths and wet weather gear thank you Spotty Otter and a new coloring in book, oh and of course the sun cream!!! The school gate Mums politely asked each other where they were going to spend their holidays and when I let on our destination folk tended to look at us as if we were potty, you are what, camping? Gosh that’s brave. My nerve was starting to wobble by the time the school shut for the summer.
In fact we had an amazing time. There is so much wind out there that midges were never a problem, we saw not a single tick all week and yes it rained but the rain comes and then is blown away rather faster than on the mainland. For us it mostly came at night when we were tucked up in our sleeping bags. Then after the rain comes the sun (more often than not) and when that comes out you are transformed into a beautiful place of silver sands and emerald green sea.
One of the best starts to a holiday is to catch a ferry and that’s what we did although we nearly missed it! We started off on Barra and spent most of the time camping near a double beach, in one direction was the west facing beach windblown and wild. On the other was the East coast usually a bit sheltered from the wind and when it was sunny, blissful.
The beaches are legendary on the Western Isles but what else was there to do especially if it rains? Well the ferry comes into Castlebay so called because there is a little castle on a small rocky island- funnily enough. There are boat trips out to it every half hour so on a not so sunny day we took a ride out to Kisimul castle. It’s an amazing place, the seat of the McNeil clan which as with most Scottish castles burnt down in the 1700 however in the early 1900 the Clan chief reclaimed it and started a rebuild which involved doing up the old parts but also adding buildings that resembled houses. In fact the place was inhabited up until recently when it was handed over to Historic Scotland. Absolutely fascinating it was a tiny place built entirely on the rock with a small courtyard surrounded by little house buildings.
The boys loved it although they spent most of the time being anxious about the boat leaving and had to keep running back to the entrance to see if it was still there. How little minds work.
The other rainy day destination is the swimming pool, which is great, and has a sauna much needed when you are camping.
Although we had 10 days we spent most of our trip on Barra mainly because the sun came out for a few days and we changed our ferry so that we could get the most out of our perfect beach. But we finally dragged ourselves away and caught the little ferry to Eriskay and then drove through the Uists and finally to Bernary and a beautiful camp spot in the dunes.
We were due to spend a couple of days here but the weather forecast was to change and strong though our tent was I really didn’t want to push it to the extreme on its maiden voyage. So we changed our ferry and headed this time back to Uig on Skye, had pizza in an amazing pizza restaurant in Broadford of all places and home.
The whole trip worked really well and I have to say camping has completely transformed its self with our new big strong tent. It was pretty tiring but a very simple and all-encompassing way to spend peaceful time with the family. Back at school no one has remembered that we went away on an outlandish adventure but I know all you Little Trekkers out there will appreciate the trip and what it meant to us!!
About the Author
About Me & Mine
We are Jennie, Matt, Finlay, Torrin and a whole extra family of fluffy animals some of whom join us on our adventures.
Favourite place in the world:
We have many favourite places but I think the one that tops them all is our recent discovery of the Singing Sands on the West Coast Scotland. Truly beautiful.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
Canoeing, skiing, all sorts really, but best of all drinking coffee while sitting in the garden in our hammock.