This is a great little walk to Eilean Glas lighthouse at Scalpay, a lovely island connected by bridge to the Isle of Harris. Start from where the road ends at the southern tip of the island and take the good path all the way to the lighthouse, with the option of returning via a somewhat boggy but very rewarding coastal path. Keep an eye out for the way markers on the way back, which can be hard to spot. The round trip is about 3 miles.
Eilean Glas was one of the first lighthouses built in Scotland, its light being first exhibited in 1789. The present tower dates from 1824, and is by Robert Stevenson. In 1907 a fog signal was installed, and although it was discontinued in 1987, it is still in place. The lighthouse’s two painted red bands act as an aid to navigation, allowing it to be easily identified during the day. In 1978 its light was converted to automatic operation.
You may have read recently about a red-winged blackbird, which was blown over to Orkney from its usual home in America. Well, Go Hebrides found themselves there too this week, but we had an invite – as a guest of our friends at Hidden Hebrides!
This picture was taken at Noup Head on Westray, and it’s already teeming with seabirds, including Gannets, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes.
Mick and the team go the extra mile by visiting no less than four of the Orkney islands during the week, and all are must-see destinations, including the spectacular Old Man of Hoy, the highest sea stack in the UK.
We love the Hebrides, but have to admit Orkney is pretty special too!
This was the scene just a week ago, when the Isle of Lewis was hit by strong, cold Northerly winds and, briefly, blizzard conditions. The temperature struggled to stay above zero that day. Thankfully for us, no new lambs came along during the cold snap; four new mums sensibly hung on for a couple of days until it calmed down a little!
Fast forward a week, and a few breeze blocks make for an impromptu bbq, as the temperature hits 18 degrees during the day. Average temperatures on Lewis for this time of year are around 9 degrees, so within a week we’ve had a 100% swing each way!
The good thing about living in a community like Marvig, is that there’s always someone keen to get out to the fishing as soon as the weather picks up. So thanks to Sandra for dropping in with the fresh mackerel, which were on the barbie within a few hours of being caught – and they tasted superb.
We’re not into fishing on the Go Hebrides croft, so a warm sunny May Day is spent planting potatoes. It’s an improvement on last year, when we waited until the first of June for the soil to warm up sufficiently to begin planting, so hopefully the maincrop varieties that did badly last year will benefit from an earlier start this time!
If you fancy visiting a croft during your tour of the Hebrides, call in, and there might be some local produce on offer!
It was a pleasure to be out walking with John Ackerman again today. John is from the Netherlands, and although now aged 83, has once more come to stay at Ravenspoint and go walking in the Pairc area of the Isle of Lewis.
Today we visited Sromos, a long abandoned settlement close to the shore of Loch Seaforth. Sromos is one of over thirty settlements in Pairc that by 1833 were cleared of people to make way for a sheep farm, never to be occupied again. It now forms part of the Eishken estate, a 40,000 acre deer park. One account of the clearances of the people from Pairc can be found in the The Angus Macleod Archive.
We asked John what keeps drawing him back to come walking in the Hebrides. He told us how much he enjoyed walking in the hills, but that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find places anywhere in Europe that weren’t crowded. Walking in Scotland offers him plenty of opportunity to find peace and quiet, and the added attraction of the Outer Hebrides is that the mountains aren’t too high, which makes for great hill walking without too many arduous climbs.
John often makes use of local guides to help him discover hidden gems such as Sromos, and Go Hebrides were delighted to see someone with such an enthusiasm for walking in the Outer Hebrides coming back for more!
It’s Lambing time
If you tour the Outer Hebrides in May, you’ll see lots of new-born lambs in the fields. On the croft here lambing begins around mid April, and they’ll be running around throughout the spring. If you want to get closer to them than looking from the roadside, feel free to add a visit to the croft to your Go Hebrides day tour or short break.
Peat cutting begins
The first of May is the traditional start date for ‘cutting the peats’, the ancient art of turning boggy moorland into fuel for the croft house! We have a wood burning stove on the croft, and once cut, lifted, stacked and dried, we’ll be burning peat along with the wood next winter. If you want to give peat cutting a try, then be sure to join us for your guided tour of Lewis.
Flowers of the machair begin to bloom
The machair is a unique habitat, where alkaline sand formed from sea shells creates a fertile environment, which produces a carpet of wild flowers from May onwards. The west coast of the Isle of Harris contains lots of machair, and is a favourite location for wildlife tours of the Hebrides, partly due also to the stunning views and great beaches! The machair is also home to several rare bird species, including the elusive corncrake.
Summer temperatures on the Hebrides are never particularly hot, so May can be just as good, and it is often one of the the driest month of the year. The ferries tend to be less busy too, so if you decide to make a last-minute plan to go walking in the Hebrides, getting here should be easy. Just catch a Calmac ferry, and we’ll do the rest (including taking you on the best walks!).
In reality, midgies aren’t such a problem here in the Hebrides, as there’s often a breeze to deter them. However, they usually don’t appear until the end of the month, so by visiting the Hebrides in May, you normally get to avoid them altogether!
…the water has to go somewhere.
We’re just up the hill from Marvig bay, so we have to keep the ditches clear to allow the water to run down to the sea. If it backs up, we soon end up pulling drowned lambs out of the bog! Ishbel’s hard at it, while I’m busy preening the Go Hebrides Galaxy ready for the season. I get all the tough jobs!
It looks like Jerry the Hebridean cat wants to come on tour!
He’s enjoying the warmth of the sun on the Go Heb Galaxy’s roof, which isn’t bad for late March. I’m reminded that we’ve had good spells of weather in early Spring for the last two or three years – often better than the Summer! So if you’re planning a trip, don’t worry to much about the season. You could be lucky at any time, and an early start is guaranteed to be free from midgies!