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Thread: Barra

  1. #1
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    Cool Barra

    Barra




    Last week we set off to explore the Outer Hebrides. A place I'd never been before but always wanted to visit. It wasn't a canoeing holiday per se, but I did take my canoe along, as I had an idea it might come in handy.


    The islands turned out to be utterly captivating, and we did manage to get a few wee paddles in. This is the first in a short series of blogs from our trip.


    We started out from Oban, on a sunny Saturday.







    McCaig's folly, on the hill above Oban:







    Another Oban highlight:







    And another. Note the sympathy for the fish!







    Waiting excitedly for the ferry, which was an hour late in arriving (which it seems to be every day, as far as I could make out).







    Ferry arriving at last! No, it wasn't. This was the Mull ferry. The Barra ferry was stil out there somewhere.







    Still waiting!







    On board at last!







    It was a 5 hour trip across to the island of Barra, at the southern end of the Outer Hebrides chain.










    On the way we passed Kerrera, Lismore, Mull, Coll and Tiree.


    It was interesting to see the waters that Wavecloud and I had paddled last year, on our Sound Of Mull trip ( http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...mp-Loch-Sunart ), from a much higher and safer feeling perspective.


    The lighthouse on Lismore, where we had crossed to Mull. Bit of a tidal race there still:







    Janet on deck:







    The Outer Hebrides in sight:










    We arrived in Castlebay on Barra after dark, and proceeded to lose our way to the guesthouse, several miles away. They all look the same in the dark!


    First of many beautiful and deserted white beaches:







    Next day we went to check out the airport on the north of Barra. The planes here still land on the beach at low tide. I heard there are only 2 places in the world where they still do that.










    Plane landing. It's a Twin Otter I believe. (Possibly called Quentina?)
















    Janet running backwards away from the airport for some reason:







    In Italy, all roads lead to Rome. On Barra, all roads lead to Castlebay:







    Castlebay city centre:







    In Castlebay harbour, on a small island is Kishmul's Castle. As featured in the famous song:




    Bravely against wind and tide
    They have brought us to 'neath Kishmul's walls
    Kishmul's castle of ancient glory


    CHORUS
    Ah-hee Ah-hoo-oh
    Vall-eee Ah-hoo-oh


    Homeward she bravely battles,
    'Gainst the hurtling waves,
    Nor hoop nor yards,
    Anchor, cable nor tackle has she.


    CHORUS
    Ah-hee Ah-hoo-oh
    Vall-eee Ah-hoo-oh


    Here's red wine, a toast to heroes
    And harping too, and harping too
    Watching Kishmul's galley sailing




    You could pay 5 to visit the castle, including a boat trip across. Being skinflints, we went in the canoe instead and didn't go inside, thereby saving 5 towards our curry later.

























    After that epic paddle, a curry in Kishmul's Cafe was in order.










    Where I went native and started wearing a Harris Tweed bunnet:







    Next day we drove across the causeway to the neighbouring island of Vatersay.


    A plane crashed here in 1944, and the wreckage has been left in place as a memorial.










    Another stunning beach at the bottom end of Vatersay, looking south towards Mingulay:







    Here endeth the first blog. Next up, South Uist featuring a blackhouse and an awful lot of seals...




    Thanks for reading.


    Gordon
    Last edited by Crow; 28th-August-2012 at 01:13 AM.

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    Hi gordon it's a fantastic place ,
    i was in daliburgh in south uist for a few days and spent the remaining five days in northton in Harris, paddled at nights fishing from northton to leverburgh, but never had the camera and never caught any fish. Wish I was still there truly beautiful for paddling, walking the dugs.

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    Enjoyed the blogg Crow, can I come with you next time? it looks right nice up there.

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    Cracking blog! Lovely place. There are some really beautiful places in the British Isles. If only it was warmer there'd be no need to jet off to the Med for our Summer holidays. Thanks for taking us on a virtual tour to so many of these gems.
    Juvanile delinkwit, vaguely faffing around with a pair of pliers. Du skal ikke tro at du er bedre end mig!

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    Great stuff once again Gordon, keep it coming.
    Looking forward to the next instalment(s).
    Nin Wanakiwidee Tchiman

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    The Outer Isles - tropical beaches and turquoise sea.

    Looks a great start to seeing a brilliantly special area.

    I've done Eriskay to the Butt of Lewis but not Barra yet so the pictures are just the encouragement I need.

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    Brill blogg & looking forward to the next installment(s) :-)

    Just need the kids to be a bit older so we can head off on trips like that.
    Death is natures way of telling you to slow down.

  8. #8

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    great trip and photos like Quercus - barra is the only island I haven't been to yet - I hope you got some good paddling in and the wind hasn't been too strong. Uibhist a Deas, here we come

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    Cracking Blogg, we are so lucky to have this fantastic world class resource, on our doorstep,

    thanks for sharing

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    Great blog mate, the new hat looks good but worried that suddenly the old arris tweed turned up not lost another one have we!!!!

    Cheers
    KJ
    ".a man is part of his canoe and therefore part of all it knows.
    The instant he dips a paddle he flows as it flows." - Sigurd Olson, The Singing Wilderness.

  11. #11

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    I love Barra!!

    Great stuff!!!!!

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    Great pics - thanks for sharing. The beach airport is called the Cockle Strand. I have never, ever been at another airport where one of the mechanics openly walked around with a half-bottle of whisky in his overall back pocket.

    When I was there (1981) one of the guys we fell in with was black, from South London. One of the old locals went up to him and asked
    "Are you from Borneo?"

    " No mate - Sarf London!".

    Loved the place!

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    I can't stop going back!

    I there was a load of cash and two tickets on a table, one for The Western Isles and one for Australia......The Australian ticket would be out the window!

  14. #14

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    maybe the half bottle was full of wd40......

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    Great stuff Mr & Mrs Crow. Glad to see the BCP getting an outing. It does look like a wonderful place.

    This is the first in a short series of blogs from our trip.
    So, each day you're going to depress me by showing me pictures of a lovely place, some paddling and amazing beaches, whilst I'm stuck here in the South East?....


    ....hoorah, bring it on, will actually cheer us up no end!
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    At least you can hit the water whenever you like Mal!!

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    Default Barra blogged

    makes a great read,it is a beautiful place with its charm well captured here .....and with the cost of the ferry tickets having taking
    a right nosedive the past few years the chain of isles is noo really accessible to us of limited means with a
    wanderer ticket..... for no many shekels.
    No so long ago the ferries were seriously expensive and this has probably put many off giving the outer heb
    isles a wee visit.Go for it now people afore the wind farms have the whole place up.

    I also look forward to the next bloggs from these parts,cool/warm cap by the way sir.......aint the tweeds from Harris very special.willie
    "Every action of our lives touches on
    some chord that will vibrate in eternity"

    Edwin Hubbel Chapin

  18. #18

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    No so long ago the ferries were seriously expensive
    I first went there in 1999. We paid hundreds for our ticket. The island rover ticket was over 300!

    The only problem now...There are some pretty heavy restrictions on some islands.

  19. #19

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    My father had major surgery years back. He didn't sleep for a long time afterwards, months or even years.

    He got a Motorhome and him and my Mother headed for Barra. They parked for the first night in that layby on the west coast just north of the Beach Hotel...

    The solitude and silence just blew him away. He had his first nights full sleep since his operation, parked in the layby looking out over Turquoise Seas.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayakjedi View Post
    Great blog mate, the new hat looks good but worried that suddenly the old arris tweed turned up not lost another one have we!!!!

    Cheers
    KJ
    No, it still here - thanks to the hat strap!

    Sk8r thinks I should ditch the tweed one in the sea though!

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    Nice blog crow some interesting shots not sure ill ever get that far up but one can hope
    People keep telling me im in my second childhood I never left my first

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    looks great,somewhere I have yet to visit like many other parts of my homeland.The beaches look lush.

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    Looks like you had lovely weather. Barra is just lovely - we did the islands the opposite way round a few years back -great ain't they. Look forward to more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh View Post
    Great pics - thanks for sharing. The beach airport is called the Cockle Strand. I have never, ever been at another airport where one of the mechanics openly walked around with a half-bottle of whisky in his overall back pocket.

    When I was there (1981) one of the guys we fell in with was black, from South London. One of the old locals went up to him and asked
    "Are you from Borneo?"

    " No mate - Sarf London!".

    Loved the place!
    As soon as the plane was landed, the cockle pickers were out driving across the wet sand then raking it for cockles. I thought they were airport safety crew, but no, they were just after the cockles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Great stuff Mr & Mrs Crow. Glad to see the BCP getting an outing. It does look like a wonderful place.



    So, each day you're going to depress me by showing me pictures of a lovely place, some paddling and amazing beaches, whilst I'm stuck here in the South East?....


    ....hoorah, bring it on, will actually cheer us up no end!
    Hey, it works for you Mal, with your blog du jour....

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    brillitant stuff, crow! that's one of the places i really need to visit.
    did you visit the distillery in oban? the bar at the end is great, they let you taste pretty much everything you want.
    looking forward to the next instalment

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    No, I didn't have time.

    Strange but there are no distilleries on the islands. (No legal ones at any rate!) But I here they are planning to build one on Harris at last.

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    I had mentioned I was contemplating a trip next year, I've now decided I'm deffo going.

    Look forward to the next installment!!

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    so maybe by the time i make it over there they have the still up and running.
    airplane wreckage is strangely fascinating. i saw a few of these bits in the alps, mull of kintyre, etc. knowing it's there makes barra even more worth a visit!

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    Quote Originally Posted by lowlander View Post
    so maybe by the time i make it over there they have the still up and running.
    They may have the still running, but you'll want to wait a good 10 years more before they have a decent malt!
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    it flatters me that you think i'd need something decent

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    Barra is also the setting for the Tintin book "The Black Island" - our hero walks through a recognisable Castlebay, and crosses to Kisimul Castle. Herge drew from postcards, apparently, as he hardly ever (or never) left Belgium.
    Damien

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    spent many a happy holiday on Barra - and will be back, it just seems to get under your skin - love it.

    Great photos - thanks for jogging great memories, though I've never yet had a curry!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow Pyranha View Post
    Barra is also the setting for the Tintin book "The Black Island" - our hero walks through a recognisable Castlebay, and crosses to Kisimul Castle. Herge drew from postcards, apparently, as he hardly ever (or never) left Belgium.


    This one?




    Thanks for that snippet. I never knew it was Barra.

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    Well, obviously he took slight liberties with the scale of the castle, but yes. And I think it's Bishops Stortford railway station near the beginning - somewhere near there anyway.
    Damien

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    Ah yes, the old Bishops Stortford to Oban line, axed by Dr. Beeching.

    Also, I wouldn't wear a kilt in an open boat with those winds!

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    Quote Originally Posted by OLD MAN View Post
    Great stuff once again Gordon, keep it coming.
    Looking forward to the next instalment(s).
    Part two is here.

    Part three will follow shortly.

    Part four is the best though.

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    OK.

    Part two is here.

    Part three is here now.

    Part four is here still.

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    I have enjoyed your Hebridean blogs Crow - always interesting to see what others make of the place you're from and glad you seem to have enjoyed your trip

    ps corries are no bad but this would be a more 'authentic' version



    pps distillerys - I assume the tax man knows about this one http://www.abhainndearg.co.uk/

  40. #40
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    Ah right. Seems my information on distilleries was a few years out of date. So what is Abhainn Dearg whisky like? Have you tried any?

    Whereabouts in the Hebrides are you, Aquanaut?

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    hey, welcome back aquanaut! haven't seen you around in quite some years.
    i'll need to check if my favourite whisky shop here has that abhainn dearg stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lowlander View Post
    hey, welcome back aquanaut! haven't seen you around in quite some years.
    i'll need to check if my favourite whisky shop here has that abhainn dearg stuff.
    Hey Crow - am on Lewis but often go down to Barra to visit family, I haven't tried the abhainn dearg so cant say for sure but I've heard its pretty good (given how young it is still)

    Lowlander - Thanks for the re-welcome! been busy with life including twin boys but dont worry still paddling - went over to little bernera the other week for a night - it was quite nice.....



    forgot how to add photos - does this work? http://www.flickr.com/photos/54086643@N00/7922922102/
    Last edited by Aquanaut; 3rd-September-2012 at 05:32 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquanaut View Post
    forgot how to add photos - does this work? http://www.flickr.com/photos/54086643@N00/7922922102/
    Try this:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquanaut View Post
    Hey Crow - am on Lewis but often go down to Barra to visit family, I haven't tried the abhainn dearg so cant say for sure but I've heard its pretty good (given how young it is still)

    Lowlander - Thanks for the re-welcome! been busy with life including twin boys but dont worry still paddling - went over to little bernera the other week for a night - it was quite nice.....



    forgot how to add photos - does this work? http://www.flickr.com/photos/54086643@N00/7922922102/

    Little Bernera looks great. If I'd had more time I would have gone there.

    We just crossed the border into Lewis on this trip. It was a Sunday and I didn't have enough petrol to get any further. All (both) the petrol stations were closed. More in the 5th and final blog....

    Next time will explore more of Lewis.

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    another cracking trip eh Gordon
    good to see you have my boat out and giving it some use
    we must catch up for a paddle soon

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