LEAVING LONG ISLAND
Is it Lewis and Harris or Harris and Lewis? Anyway it was Harris I actually sailed from, having left Lewis earlier in the day, though of course they are one island rather than two as one might imagine by the name. I asked why the north and south of the island, originally known as Long Island, were given individual names, and it is thought that because the linking part is so very rugged and mountainous that originally all communications were carried out by sea, and consequently being thought of as separate islands they were named as such. Strange, and possibly true.
I had started out good and early, and although it was a grey day it wasn't raining too much, just needing the wipers occasionally. But it was a weepy, wet sort of a day. The mountain tops were shrouded with cloud, and everything looked bleak and brown and dull.
As one gets down into the Harris end the scenery becomes very dramatic with huge towering mountains one behind another, though with the amount of low cloud there were only glimpses to be had. And as it is so mountainous there are very few places to stop and admire, or take photos - though it is so dramatic and on such a grand scale that it would be difficult to know what, or or even how to photograph it
I was intending to visit the beach at Hushinish as more than one person had said it was beautiful there, so duly turned off at the appropriate B road. I don't know if I was still feeling run down from the chest infection, or whether the dull day was just too depressing, but after five miles of tortuously slow progress on the narrow roads through the mist and mizzle, and with another ten to go and then the return journey to face I just decided to turn round and go straight on down to the ferry terminal.
I am sure the beach at Hushinish was probably delightful on a good day, but I wasn't sure how wonderful it might look through the mist and rain, and I think I made the right decision. As we travelled south and neared the ferry over The Sound of Harris suddenly we were dropping down, and the grass was green and there were flowers and some trees in leaf. I felt somehow lighter. I wonder if all those folk who suffer from SAD in wintertime actually suffer from BROWN. I think a long wintertime on Lewis would certainly leave me suffering from BROWN – well if I lived in the middle of the moors anyway.
Approaching the ferry harbour sun came out. The ever helpful Billy had given me a print out of a guide which informed me there was an emptying point for the tanks at the ferry terminal, though the exact location was not pinpointed. Parking up away from the ferry lines - the ferry was already in and disembarking - I spotted a vintage bus, all decked out with bunting and converted to a ‘diner’ though an Outer Hebrides rather than American style diner, so popped in to ask. Even though the ferry would be leaving soon I judged it best to take the opportunity of sorting the tanks out, and then spend a couple of hours sitting in the ferry lines, and maybe have a late breakfast.
They were a nice bunch in the bus cafe, and having done the necessary I popped back for a coffee and the opportunity of a chat with some of the locals, and sat on the bus steps in the sun. The next ferry would sail in a couple of hours and they told me I would need to book to be sure of a space, so I wouldn’t have been able to get on the first one anyway.
There was a cafe/restaurant next to the ferry lines, which I knew had and excellent reputation for seafood, but it wasn’t yet open, and I was still coughing too much to feel I would enjoy the meal fully, so we just pulled to one side of the lines and sat in the sun till the next ferry came in.
Having boarded the ferry there was some sort of mix up with the ticket I had originally purchased which didn't cover us for this particular leg of the trip so once on the boat I had to pay. Somewhat pointedly the guy taking the money said – “I take it you'll be wanting a single then – You'll not be wanting to come back” And it felt more like a statement than a question.
But I met a lovely couple on the ferry who had taken their dog out onto the upper decks, which is allowed though Phoebe would never make it up the steep steps between decks, and if she did, then she most certainly wouldn’t make it back down again, so we nattered on the way over, plus I bumped into them again, thankfully not literally, later on on my journey.