‘Barra’ to Barra

Name of walk 'Barra' to Barra
Date of walk 2017-06-16

‘Barra’ in Furness to Barra in the Outer Hebrides! We plan to work our way up from Barra to Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Berneray, Harris and Lewis. We did a similar trip twenty seven years ago and camped out under the stars. Age and the love of home comforts mean that this time around we will be hoping for more superior accommodation! We have the tent, sleeping bags and cooking equipment as a back up plan, as we have only booked accommodation on Barra for three nights. We will ‘wing’ the rest of the holiday!

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We stop over night on the shores of Loch Lomond. We drove all the way in rain!

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We were last in Luss about 30 years ago. There are a lot more tourists now, even in the rain.

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I have a photo taken on Luss pier, in the same place as thirty years ago.

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The weather has changed, but we haven't changed a bit!

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If you watched the Scottish soap 'Take the High Road' back in the eighties, this was 'Blair's Store'.

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The weather improved in the evening. A few views from near our hotel.

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We took a walk up the hill at the back of the hotel.

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Next day we head for Glencoe. Buachaille Etive Mor (Great Shepherd of Etive).

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Two of the Three Sisters.

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View down the valley of Glencoe.

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Loch Leven.

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Oban, where we catch the 2pm Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Castlebay, Barra.

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Not many people on the ferry, so we had front seats on the observation deck.

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Light house on our way through the start of the Sound of Mull.

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It is a five hour crossing to Castlebay.

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Kisimul Castle. Barra is four miles wide and eight miles long, similar in size to Walney Island, but only has 1200 residents not Walney's 12,000.

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We head off to Craigston on the west coast. We are staying on a croft.

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We had our evening meal at the Heathbank Hotel in Northbay. They have whisky bottles 'rescued' from the SS Politician which sank off Eriskay in 1941 with a cargo of 264,000 bottles of whisky. This inspired Compton Mackenzie to write 'Whisky Galore', which was turned into an Ealing comedy filmed on Barra in 1948.

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View from our window to the beach and St. Brendan's RC Church.

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View over to Heaval from our window, which due to the weather we never had an opportunity to climb..

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Inside St. Brendan's.

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The beach we could see from our window.

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"Hurry up with the photo so I can put my fleece back on!"

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St. Brendan's on the left and the croft is left of centre.

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Our Lady, Star of the Sea looks out over Castlebay. A few years ago it was host to one season of the BBC series 'An Island Parish'.

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View out from the church.

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The church was built in 1886.

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We take the boat out to Kisimul Castle, the ancestral home of the MacNeil clan.

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On the right is the mortuary chapel, centre is the hall.

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Brendan inside the chapel.

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Looking towards the heir's house.

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Inside the Tower House.

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Views over Castlebay.

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The castle burnt down in the 18th century. The 45th Macneil chief, conveniently a wealthy American architect, began to restore the castle in 1937 this continued until his death in 1970.

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A trip to Barra is not complete without a visit to its airport. Heathrow it is not!

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Compton Mackenzie's house on the left, Barra airport on the right.

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Compton Mackenzie's house.

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The airport.

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The runway.

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Baggage Reclaim is the bus shelter structure.

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The plane.

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The landing.

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We take a walk from the airport over the dunes to the beach on the west coast.

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We then head north to Eoligarry and Cille Bharra, burial ground of the Macneil's and where Compton Mackenzie is buried. There are ruins of a medieval church and two chapels. The church is dedicated to St. Barr, or Finbarr of Cork. By coincidence we have done the pilgrimage walk from Kilgarvan in Kerry over the mountains to St. Finbarr's Oratory, Gougane Barra at Cork on St. Finbarr's day. (Sept. 27th).

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Otters catching a salmon sculpture at Ard Mhor.

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Heading back south towards Craigston.

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The War Memorial on the road to the Island of Vatersay which has been linked to Barra by a causeway since 1991.

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Panoramic view out over Castlebay. Left click to enlarge, click again to return.

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View across to Vatersay.

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Barrabados.....minus the temperature!

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The beaches are superb.

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A view from the beach on the west side of the island.

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South Vatersay.

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Catalina Memorial. An RAF Catalina on a training flight from Oban crashed here in 1944.

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Brendan with the remains of the plane.

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One of the days on Barra it rained for most of the day and the clouds were right down....so I took a sheep photo!

If you plan to visit Barra book your accommodation and especially evening meals, in advance. Best place to eat is the Kisimul Cafe, they do great curries. The Barra Heritage Centre (Dualchas) is an interesting place to go when the weather mucks up your plans!

Eriskay and the Uists up next!

Jo.

 

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