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" Outer Hebrides 2019 - 10 - Beaches and Boisdale "

 

Date & start time:    Several days either side of Wednesday 22nd May 2018.

Location of Start :   The cottage at South Loch Boisdale   ( Map ref: NF 786 175)

Stayed at :                Seann Taigh, South Lochboisdale South Uist, Hebrides, UK.

Places visited :       Lochboisdale, Polochar, Orasaigh Beach, Loch Aineort and Cill Donnan.

Walk details :          A variety of walks along the way.

With :                         Ann and our dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                  Fine dry weather with variable cloud and occasional cool breezes.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.

 

South Uist is characterised by flatter ground to the west where you find the many lochs and machair grass that define the islands.

To the east are the high hills that form the backbone of the Hebrides, Beinn Mhor at 2015ft (620m) being one of the highest.

In between there are beaches, birds, wildlife and human heritage, enough to fill your days.

This is how we filled ours . . .

Loch Boisedale as we drive out from our cottage on this southern shore of the loch.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger annotated panorama should you wish more detail before we even start walking !

(backspace afterwards to return to this point)

Zooming in on the Calmac Ferry berthed at Lochboisdale.

We would make use of its services in a few days time . . . at the end of our holiday.

By the time we visited 'town' it had left on another crossing of the Minch.

Above is the (relatively) new arcade of housing and shops built to rejuvenate the harbour area.

The outer stanchion of the ferry jetty . . . guarded over by a "senior member of the church" . . . I mean an old cannon !

Across the way, another more recent investment in the form of a marina and deep water harbour . . . we take a look.

- - - o o o - - -

Across the way is the classic looking Lochboisdale Hotel

which has graced the harbour front since

it was built in the late 1800's.

 

More causeway-style breakwaters surround the new harbour

and the land here on the headland

was growing a good crop of bluebells,

still in good shape due to their northerly location

- - - o o o - - -

This creates an east coast haven for the small boat community . . . and moorings for a spare Calmac ferry by the look of it.

- - - o o o - - -

We dined in the cottage most nights . . . but did venture out for a lovely meal at the Polochar Inn

This was the Inn when we called in to check the menu and book our meal.

The name 'Polochar' comes from the Gaelic 'Poll a Charra', meaning inlet (Poll) and large stone (Charra), hence inlet of the stone

so their website informs us.   The Standing Stone is believed to be over 4000 years old.

Photo courtesy of F.G.Rea's book "A School in South Uist ". circa 1898

It was also a one-time starting point for the Barra ferry, using the stone as a landmark, but the beach was difficult to land on in poor weather.

It was the modern day starting point of our short walk.
Sea, sand and machair grass to boot !

The beach walk turned into a part grassland walk with fine views across the Sound of Barra.

This south and east coast is famed for big skies . . . so here's a big sky photo as we returned to the car.

- - - o o o - - -

Heading north a short distance to explore the fields and beaches on the western side of South Uist.

A side road at Baghasdal takes us down to the beach at Orasaigh Island.

These flat areas were controversially cleared of crofts and amalgamated into larger farms in the 1800's,

but the crofter's rebellion caused a change of policy and they were converted back to smaller croft units.

There are no walls and few fences here.  Everything seems to be grown on a strip cultivation basis.

Our local history books shows the same or very similar location, as recently as 1962

when they were making hay and stacking it up in hayricks. 

My previous photo shows rolled silage now wrapped in black plastic . . . ready as winter fodder for the animals.

Strip cultivation on the sandy fields.

Nothing changes but everything changes . . . over time.

The farmer transports baled silage (these in green wrappers) along the foreshore track.

We stop at the road end and walk along a new beach for us . . .

Daisies and Buttercups
and Silverweed fill the area between field and beach.
   

A short walk north along the sand and then we turn to walk back to the south, heading across to the tidal Orasaigh Island.

Seaweed on the tide line  . . . look again.

As I walk closer a flock of Sandpipers took to the air.

If there were a few more . . . and if they had been flying slightly higher

you could almost say it was a murmuration of sandpipers.

The ones with a black lower chest markings are Dunlins

The tide was on the rise so a walk out onto the island was not the best idea,

so we continued around to where the old seaweed factory was located.

There was a historic trade in processed seaweed which was burnt to produce alginate for the soap and glass making industries.

A modern venture, in a bland modern warehouse style building, was built at the headland in 2006 but failed to remain profitable for long.

The building was used for a while as a centre for repairing fishing nets, but now lies derelict.

A few traces of the industrial heritage remain.

We return to the car and drive back up towards another cemetery and eventually the main road.

Along the way a couple of Oystercatchers patrol the grass looking for invertebrates to eat.

- - - o o o - - -

 

As we drove slowly up the track (it was far from smooth)

we were buzzed by a large bird fling low to the ground.

 

Rounded wings, almost  too large for its body,

gave it a lazy looking but very recognisable flight.

This bird goes by the name of

Plover, Curlew or Lapwing . . . take your pick.

The Lapwing name comes from its flying style.
A bird of the seashore, farmland and moorland habitat.

Lapwings are found on farmland throughout the UK particularly in lowland areas of northern England, the Borders and eastern Scotland.

Since the 1940s lapwing declines have been driven by large-scale changes to farming on mainland UK.  Hopefully that is changing.

- - - o o o - - -

North again for a few miles to visit another famous sea inlet . . .

This is Loch Aineort which stretches nearly five miles inland from the eastern coastline.

It twists and turns around numerous tidal rocks and islands.

It would make a good harbour but for the lack of depth and the difficulty of navigation.

It's okay for local small craft and seals.

At first we couldn't see any . . . then we spotted this one . . . and with the binoculars, many more.

These are Atlantic Grey Seals.

Presumably the lack of larger numbers of commercial boats and ferries makes this loch a safe haven for the seals.

They haul themselves out onto the rocks and beaches to rest or to digest their food,

often waiting for the returning tide to re-float themselves once more and resume their fishing.

They come in a variety of colours based on age or sex

and regular visitors can sometimes be identified by their particular markings.

Couldn't resist one last photo  . . . rush hour in Loch Aineort . . . we had to wait till they had passed before we could drive away.

- - - o o o - - -

A short drive west now, across the main island road and over to Trolasgeir Bay.

These beaches are wide open to the Atlantic, both to the sunshine and the storms.

Today the skies are overcast and the wind cool but that doesn't deter the oystercatchers from searching for food.

Wide horizons, big skies, wide beaches . . . warm hat !

A change of seaweed type from kelp to to this soft, fine light green covering.

Signs of the past even appear down on the beach.

These old tractor wheels (and back axle) pre-date the use of pneumatic tyres.

- - - o o o - - -

Cill Donnain (Kildonan) hosts a rather nice Museum which we had chance to visit.

It was originally the old school but has been extensively renovated and extended.

The museum hosts a craft shop, a Fèis room for ceilidhs, music and dance, a café and an archaeology room

and holds a large collection of local artefacts gathered by Father John Morrison, parish priest of  Iochdar in South Uist

and Margaret Fay Shaw, a prolific collector of Gaelic culture.

- - - o o o - - -

To the left, a hand loom for making Uist Tweed

which offered important income for the crofters.

A quern stone for milling cereals into flour.

At one time these were illegal to use,

forcing the crofters to use the laird's mills

at much higher prices.

- - - o o o - - -

A montage of pictures about life in the cottages of Uist.

The museum also held many examples of the same type of stoves and furniture that had been seen in the pictures.

Outside, one of several replicas of ancient archaeological finds.

On the way home we were diverted by a signpost to the birthplace of Flora MacDonald

A large cairn marks the ruined cottage where she was born
and a faded plaque hints at her story.

" Flora MacDonald's support of the Jacobite cause has ensured that she is renowned worldwide as a courageous Scottish heroine."

She was on Bonnie Prince Charlie's side and was famous for helping him, despite his failure to win the throne of England 250 years ago.

After a longer day out in the car we return home on our last but one evening . . . time for supper ?

Fish and Chips from the garage and chippy at Daliburgh on the way home . . . sorted.

- - - o o o - - -

 

Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix Tz60 Compact, or my Panasonic Gx8 mid-range System Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a local map and tourist leaflets to explore the area for yourselves.

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Previous walk - Outer Hebrides 2019 - 9 - Eriskay Island

A previous time in the area - 25th June to 6th July 2003 A Hebridean Summer

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