Showing posts from January, 2018

Scotland autumn 2016, Rodel - St Clements Church and an old harbour

When we arrived in the little hamlet of Rodel we parked near an old jetty by the Rodel Hotel. This building is now sadly empty having closed earlier in 2016. It was built in 1781 and served as a family home until the start of the 20th century when it was converted into a hotel. Queen Elizabeth visited here when the Royal Yacht Britannia moored off the coast in the 60's. Now it is up for sale for £625,000 including the harbour and a couple of islands! St Clement's Church is equally interesting. It was built originally around 1520 by the Clan MacLeod, as a burial site, although it has gone through various stages of neglect, fire and restoration. The interior is austere although it holds a fine collection of medieval sculpture and the founding Alexander MacLeod's tomb is built into the south nave. The church is thought to be the best example of a medieval structure in the Western Isles. The weather suited the slight air of depression that overhung the place.

Scotland autumn 2016, Huisinis Beach sunrise and a trip to Rodel

I had another early morning wake up call and left the van very quietly, as we were parked cheek by jowl to the other happy campers in this tight spot. The van was just across the road from the sea and Harris was giving me another ripping sunrise. Even more gaudy than the one the day before. I watched as the colours intensified and then waned to an overcast sky. I have sneaked one camera movement shot into this set.

Back at the van we had breakfast and then were on the road. We drove out of Huisinis and back towards Tarbert. Strangely the road passes straight past the front door of a rather grand estate and we observed some tweedy figures going into the big house. The light was an odd yellowish colour as we motored the length of the east coast of Harris down to Rodel at the southern point.

Scotland autumn 2016, trip down to Harris

We intended getting to Harris by the end of the day, but we were determined that our trip out from the Uig peninsula should be as interesting as possible. At Camas Uig we stopped the van next to a large wooden replica of one of the Lewis chessman. This Viking chess set was found in a small stone chamber at the top of the beach in 1831. The pieces, which had been carved from walrus teeth, are thought to have been made in the 12th century, during the period when the Vikings ruled Scotland. The set is in the British Museum, not a popular place for exhibition with the Scots. We walked down to the dunes on the beach, presumably it was this shifting sand that had disclosed the treasure.

Retracing our steps to the main road we came across a little stream and waterfall which I stopped to photograph from a slightly precarious position balanced on the rocks at the side.

As you can see the weather was quite dark, although not actually raining and we made a spurt to reach Tarbert, with a slight …

Scotland autumn 2016, Uig, an eviction and an abandoned radar station

The Uig area of Lewis has some historical sites. Near Reef beach a memorial to the resistance made by crofters to the plans of the laird, Sir James Matheson, to turn the area into a sheep farm. The eviction notices were served in 1848-9, and by 1851 most of the crofters had gone and the population had fallen from 186 to nine.  In the late 19th century the Deer Forest Commission recommended that the farm be resettled with crofts, but nothing was done. So, in 1913, local landless people raided the stock and drove the sheep from Reef to Timsgarry Farm. They were arrested and imprisoned, but such was the outcry  throughout Scotland that they were released after serving only 2 weeks of their sentence.  These same people then went off to serve in the Great War. On their return 11 of these men wrote to the Secretary of State for Scotland requesting that the farm they worked on be returned to crofts as promised. Finally in 1921 the sheep farm, which now could only sustain 170 sheep, was clos…