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camping galore!

juni 29, 2017

first some information in norwegian:

eg har bestemt meg for å gjera nokre endringar på reisebloggen. eg bur i eit engelsktalande land, reiser mykje i engelsktalande land, og blir kjend med mange engelsktalande folk -som eg snakkar med om bloggen min. det hadde difor vore kjekt om dei også kunne lesa den. difor kjem eg no til å skriva innlegg på engelsk, men ikkje fortvil! eg kjem også til å skriva eit resymé på norsk, og bileta treng jo inga omsetjing. kan hende dette berre blir ei utprøving, eller kan hende det blir permanent, det vil tida vise. 
eg fekk også tilbakemeldingar på at det ikkje var så lurt å publisere innlegg før eg hadde lagt til bilete. det er nemleg mykje enklare for meg å skriva eit innlegg anten medan eg er på tur, eller medan eg har turen friskt i minne, for så å gå attende å leggja inn bileta etter publiseringa. endringa på dette førte berre til at det vart meir jobb på éin gong, med å både skriva, redigera og publisera bilete, så det ende med at det vart utsett, og dette førte rett og slett til mindre blogging. eg går nok tilbake til den gamle «metoden» min, så får det berre smørja dykk med tålmod kjære leserar! hugs at bileta kjem.
du skal likevel få bilete frå turen no, heilt rykande ferske, så håpar eg du nyt anten lesinga eller sjåinga.

we’ve made it home from an absolutely stunning holiday in the outer hebrides (june 12th-18th). i can’t praise it all enough: the nature, landscape, fauna, flora, the friendly people and last but not least -the hippest (ahem) way to travel in the western isles: in a motorhome! the latter is a first for us, and i can ensure you -it won’t be the last! 

we had visitors that stayed with us in aberdeen until sunday afternoon but as soon as they were in a plane back to norway, we stocked up the bailey motorhome that was to be our home for the next week. it would later become clear that we’d brought waaaay to many clothes, but one can never know how many layers (or dresses) one need on a camping trip -amiright?! the car was rented from angus motorhome hire in arbroath, so it had already been on a ride from down there and up to aberdeen when we headed for oban sunday evening. i’ve never been in such a large moving vehicle before, and neither had our cat rips whom we brought along, so the two of us sat patient (though a bit nervous) in the back while the hubby impressed with his steady driving. what skills does that man not have? we made it all the way to western scotland all in one take, but when we reached loch lubhair at 10.30pm we had to take a rest. the sofa made up to a bed in the rear of our new home was far from comfortable, adding to that it was also very cold, so i can’t say i got much sleep that night. thankfully the same could not be said about the husband, who was all ship shape and ready to go the next morning. so we did, after some breakfast onboard.
early morning at loch lubhair
it was only a short hour drive to get to the ferry quay in oban and we arrived as the first in line for the caledonian macbraine’s ferry to castlebay. perfect as we had yet to have our first coffee (and scone!) of the day. we also did some shopping in oban, i bought a raincoat (that came in über-handy!), the hubby got some hiking pants, and we got some covers and sheets to improve the bed in the car. yes and i also got camouflage wellies from the kid’s department, how could i almost forget. oban is clearly a place we have to visit and spend more time in in the future, a lively and charming town from what we saw.

tobermory lighthouse seen from the ferry   the ferry took around 4,5 hours to the island of barra, and as it was also delayed, we weren’t there before 7 in the evening. who cares about that when we were met by a sight for sore eyes? beaches, hills, small villages and a castle on a rock in the middle of the bay -yes we had landed in castlebay!

we had made arrangements to stay on a campsite with el hookups for the car, and since it was situated all up in the northernmost peak of barra, we got to see the west coast of the island and all its beaches and dramatic landscape. we’d heard rumors about the roads and oh yes -they were narrow! fortunately there were plenty of passing places and drivers were friendly and helpful. the reason i called the motorhome a hip way to travel, is because the hebrides and especially barra, were packed with them. since the island is not the biggest in the hebrides (it’ll only take you about half an hour to drive from south to north) we kept bumping (not literally though) in to the same motorhomes everywhere we went and some of them even followed us all the way up north to isle of lewis. we developed excellent waving muscles throughout the stay, for you might not know it but us motorhome-people great each other when on the road. when we couldn’t go any longer north on the island, there it was: a camping site for sore eyes surrounded by nature, birds, rabbits, cows, sheeps, beaches, ocean, waves and just a handful of other cars. there were in particular one or two birds who kept one of us awake in the night with it’s jabbing, almost like an alarm going off cause it was so consistent, we’re now quite certain it was the rare bird with the corny name corncrake (which we misspelled as corncake and had a laugh about). staying in such lovely surroundings we just couldn’t stay inside, but had to take a walk.  so we headed to cille bharra -an ancient graveyard with a chapel and ruins from a medieval church.  in the chapel we found the replica of a norse rune stone, the kilbar stone from around the 10th century. the original is in edinburgh and we understood that is was a sore spot for the islanders of barra that their stone couldn’t be on display on the place it belonged. you can read more about the stone here. on the graveyard you could also find the grave of a more or less famous novelist who wasn’t in fact scottish, but really wanted to be. compton mackenzie is probably most known for his books the monarch of the glen (which many norwegians knows better as «kar for sin kilt» when it was made into a tv series) and whisky galore which history is based on real life events on the nearby island eriskay in 1941. fun facts about mackenzie: he lived 17 years on capri, and he was one of the co-founders of the scottish national party in 1928.  after trying to escape some midges (what the scots calls mosquitoes) and raindrops, we went back to our motorhome and met the owner of the camp site on the way. he was the friendliest person you would ever meet, and could tell us (in a very fascinating dialect) that we were the first norwegians that he could recall had stayed on his site -yey! he said we could stay for as long as we wanted the next day, no need to rush. also we were welcome to use the facilities in the bungalow at the site: three private bathrooms with two showers respectively, a kitchen, washing machine etc.
the next morning it was just amazing to wake up to the sound of birds and the ocean, but also a silence-ness that you won’t find in the city.  rips the cat was so curious about everything going on outside, she was sitting on the windowsill all the time (when the car wasn’t moving that is). after breakfast we drove back south on the island, this time on the east side, so we got to see some new places. many abandoned houses and vehicles we saw throughout the island which made me think about the book «hebrides» by peter may with photographs by david wilson. the photos of john maher is also worth looking at regarding this topic.

looking out over castlebay, the statue of mary with christ on her shoulder stands tall on a cliff halfway up the 383 meter high mountain «heaval», the highest peak on the island. because of the misty weather, it wasn’t visible for us from the road, so we climbed up to see it. «our lady of the sea» a marble statue, was erected in 1954 and is supposed to guard over the many seafarers from barra.  it wasn’t even noon yet (and we’d already climbed a hill!) so we headed for another island, this time in the south. the even smaller island vatersay is only attached to barra by a 200 meters long causeway. it is scotland’s as well as great britain’s westernmost inhabited place.  we had a nice walk on the beach there before we drove back to castlebay. 
when in scotland there is always a castle to visit, and the hebrides makes no difference! hence the name castlebay, kisimul castle sits on a small island or rather a rock, in the bay 100 meters from the ferry terminal.  it is reached by boat and historic scotland arrange for you to get there safely, and walk around on your own with the option to by a leaflet guide.  «kisimul» derives from the gaelic cìosamul and means castle island, and is mentioned for the first time in written word in 1549, however the legend says it’s been the stronghold of the clan macneil’s since the 11th century. the clan raised money for a big refurbishment and in 2001 the clan chief, american ian macneil gifted the estate to scotland. historic scotland has now a 1000 year lease of the castle for the annual amount of £1 and one bottle of whisky. i would’ve appreciated a bit more information around the castle, maybe a small model that would show how the castle had developed over the years. we hadn’t really spent much time in castlebay itself and it was also time for coffee and since kisimul cafe served up hot’n steamy americanos and a sticky toffee cake to die for from the very nice, polite and friendly waiter -why choose something else?
in the spirit of the island’s strong religious traditions it was also custom to pay the church a visit. «the lady of the star of the sea» is a catholic church and the building itself is from 1886. i must say that it is the first church i’ve been in with pot plants in it, curios but then again it probably helps to improve the very moist environment in the stone church.
a cold guf went through me when i glanced at the guestbook on my way out. it mentioned the girl from barra who so tragically had been killed in the manchester attacks, and just one week before we were there had been set to rest. blessed be the memory of young eilidh.

you can actually find a couple of good stores in castlebay and one of them was in a very anonymous building along the road, below castlebay hotel. they had everything from jarred thai basil, local homemade food, knitted wares and norwegian yarn! well a norwegian brand anyway, from «drops garnstudio». so i just travelled all the way from norway via aberdeen to the outer hebrides to buy «norwegian wool». but the prices -whoof! i could’ve bought yarn for a whole little village, that’s how cheap it was. we also bought some chutney to go along with the cheesus we had in our tiny motorhome fridge (that only occasionally worked). a quick pop in to the equal anonymous store «the village» where they’d seriously got everything you could wish for in your kitchen (and beyond!) before we drove back up north. first a detour up to the campsite to collect a forgotten towel, then to the ferry terminal on aird mhor over to eriskay.
it seems like the caledonian macbrayne ferry company has monopoly on all the journeys on the western isles, but we didn’t mind. from the first encounter we had with them on the terminal in oban and throughout the joerny, they showed us flawless costumer service. as friendly, attentive, welcoming and helpful as they appeared, they just made the trip a whole lot better for us. well done cal mac!
it seemed we weren’t completely finished with compton mackenzie’s whisky galore when a road sign pointed out «ss politician». polly as she was dubbed, was the ship that prompted the tale which the book is based on. the story that the ship came from liverpool during the ww2, stranded on a rock north of eriskay and broke in two is true. the story about it being loaded with 260 000 bottles of whisky and other goods that the local islanders succumbed roughly, is also true. it was after all wartime and rations. it’s said that: «no islander regarded it as stealing, as for them the rules of salvage meant that once the bounty was in the sea, it was theirs to rescue.» but from there on, the story in the book is loosely based on true events. read the fascinating (true) story here.
it had started raining, gotten a bit chilly and also late, so we headed for the «shell bay house and caravan park» on the island of benbecula, which sits between north and south uist. we were dying for a hot meal in the gloomy evening and phoned up dark island hotel to see if they could serve us up, only to learn that they would close the kitchen a quarter to nine, and so we would just miss it. in shell bay we were given a spot and the command that the electric power would be switched off at 12 the next day. we already missed the friendly islanders of barra… the campsite itself was not the most scenic, being close to a main road, and lacking views (at least from what we could see through the grey weather). we served up our own meal in the tiny motorhome kitchen, although we’d ran out of gas so it was a cold one. the wind and rain rocked the cradle while we fell to sleep.

2 kommentarar leave one →
  1. Alexander permalink
    juli 5, 2017 10:53 am

    Dere er så flinke til å kose dere!

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