Sheltering from the weather on the edge of Europe

by backpackingbongos

The wind blew incessantly, first from the west and then from the north. One night the Bongo felt like a ship at sea, the wind rocking it violently from side to side. I’m glad that I did not take a tent. Low clouds shrouded the mountains whilst a succession of weather fronts rattled through. It was only on the last two days that temperatures nudged into double figures.

I have long wanted to visit the Islands of Harris and Lewis, which is actually one land mass. The Bongo was home and transport for Reuben and myself for 12 nights. It did me proud on the 1200 mile round trip, its only demand being a constant thirst for diesel.

There were fleeting glimpses of sunshine but it would often be raining again before I had a chance to remove waterproofs. The pitter patter sound on the Bongo was a regular wake up call each morning. Despite this the landscape blew me away, it was like arriving in a different country. Fine sandy beaches could not be a greater contrast to the rugged, barren interior of Harris and South Lewis. A fantastic uplifting place to be. North Lewis just made me feel sad and melancholic.

I’ll do a couple of posts in due course. Whilst I was away I uploaded a few photos on Twitter and Instagram. I have included them below. These were taken on my mobile and they are meant to look as they are. No anti Instagram snobbery please!

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye.


Calanais stone circle, Isle of Lewis.


View from Beinn Bhragair, Isle of Lewis.


Reuben killing seaweed on Traigh Uige, Isle of Lewis.


The view from the summit of Mealasisbhal, Isle of Lewis.


The view from Griomabhal, Isle of Lewis.


Locals on the Isle of Lewis.


Evening sky at Huisinis, Isle of Harris.


The very rocky Roineabhal, Isle of Harris.


Reuben deciding that he has done enough walking for the day.


View from the remote summit of Stulabhal, Isle of Harris.


Sunshine at the end of the very last day! Descending from Uisgneabhal Mor, Isle of Harris.



18 Comments to “Sheltering from the weather on the edge of Europe”

  1. That’s the spirit! Unthwarted by the not untypical weather you seem to have fairly put yourselves about the place. Good work. I’m very much looking forward to the accounts of your Hebridean Odyssey…

    • After spending most of my life savings in diesel to get the Bongo up there I thought it would be a shame to just sit inside! It was really hard to decide exactly what to do, simply too much choice. I fear that I may have to go back a few more times………

  2. Great post. Love the picture of the locals.

    • Cheers. The locals were just hanging out at the side of the road, could not pass by without paying them a visit.

  3. Your intro’ could well have been written by me three years ago (only I did the full length of the Hebrides)!
    Testing weather on my trip too and I was also glad I’d taken the van instead of using bike/trailer and tent as I did on my first trip to Harris. A trip last year was hit by typical Scottish ‘summer’ weather but I’m still looking forward to my next trip.

    • I would have loved to have done the full length Paul, too much in go and not enough time. I think I will do a visit to south and north Uist next. I reckon the islands would be good under clear frosty winter conditions. Bet that would be rare though.

  4. Once cycled up that road to the Quiraing with my son… it’s steep! Harris looks awesome – great photos – mobile or not!

    • It was steep enough in a camper van so well done for cycling up there. Lots of places to point a camera at.

  5. I’m so pleased you had a good trip. It’s always a hit or a miss with the weather in the Western Isles but I still love visiting. Look forward to more details in your blog as always.

    • Thanks Joyce. Yep you take a gamble with the weather. At least no midges which was a bonus. Will be returning……….

  6. Fantastic scenery James, didn’t look like it rained at all!

  7. What a cracking looking place, has a really wild feel to it. Very envious of your visit!

  8. Ok, I’m done with the starter, on with the main course 🙂

  9. Fantastic photos as usual, and lovely to be able to recognise many of those spots! We’re seriously thinking of going back for another visit this coming Christmas/New Year…….

    • Thanks Chrissie. Don’t blame you for wanting to go back. May be very dark at that time of year though.

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