Goodbye to the Isle of Skye and the home of Clan MacLeod as we left on the first ferry for the day (5:15am) to sail to the Isle of Harris where there is also a connection to Clan Macleod. The crossing today was quite rough, and this did not sit well with me. After reaching land in Tarbert we headed south to South Harris and stopped at a layby to gather my land legs.
We continued on the road to Northton to the Seallam Visitor Centre a centre devoted to the people and landscape of the Western Isle and includes a Genealogy Research Centre which can trace most families back to the mid-1700s. We found some information on the Church of St Clement in Rodel about 5 kilometres further along the road at the end of the island. The church was built in about 1520 by Alasdair Crotach MacLeod, 8th chief of the Macleods and houses his ornately decorated tomb.
The road along South Harris has a spectacular blend of rugged mountains, pristine beaches and barren rocky landscapes. The white sands and turquoise water would be major holiday resorts if they were transported to somewhere with a warm climate. There are vast undulating peat bogs and near the road are mounds of cut peat drying out ready to be burnt as fuel. The weather today is very wild and woolly, very much like the sheep and the waves are crashing onto the sand and rocks with one brave sole on a windsurf riding them.
We returned on the same road to Tarbert where we booked a return passage from Stornoway to Ullapool at the ferry terminal and then headed north along the main road to Bosta Beach where we crossed a bridge which connected the mainland with Bernera. The road most of the way was single track with passing lanes and we had to stop many times as there were quite a few sheep on the roadway.
Getting back to the main road we then stopped at the Calanais Visitor Centre which has a great interpretive display called the Story of the Stones. This display gives a very thorough understanding of the developing landscape and evolving environment, the early settlers and the construction of Calanais and the stones today. We then visited the Callanish Standing Stones, one of the significant and important megalithic complexes in Europe. It consists of rows of large pieces of Lewisian gneiss, the type of rock found here, arranged in a cross shape. At the centre of the cross is a monolith and a small chambered cairn. It is an absolutely amazing site. The wind was blowing so hard it was almost impossible to keep to the track and then if that wasn’t enough it began to rain quite heavily.
The last place we called into was Carloway Broch which is located above Loch an Duin on a rocky knoll. A broch is an Iron Age structure designed to impress and defend and were probably homes of tribal leaders and important members of the community. This broch is over 2000 years old. We didn’t climb to the knoll as the wind was too strong.
As we were heading along the road we saw a nice little layby near the bridge leading to Carloway Pier and pulled in for the night. Today, has been a day of four seasons, one minute the sun is out, the next it was pouring and as we rounded the corner in the distance the sun was shining and the road completely dry. The wind however was constant, and the camper is rocking tonight!