Things to do in the Outer Hebrides: Harris

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Travelling around the Outer Hebrides was a surreal experience. It was as if time and distance had somehow preserved a very unique culture in a spectacular setting. There is so much to share about our Autumn trip ( yep, speed-blogging is not my forte) around the Western Isles that I will write separate blog posts for Harris and Lewis. And I'll write another one for the Isle of Skye (which is part of the Inner Hebrides).

The landscape of Harris is mostly rugged and mountainous with a stunning coastline that contains the most amazing beaches in the world. Luskentyre is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen...move over Zanzibar. Yes, the weather is often wild but on the positive, gale force winds are also matched by amazing displays of northern lights. Our biggest disappointment was to have missed this due to the cloudy skies whilst we were out there.

Like many of the Hebridean islands, they are sparsely populated and those who live here are part of a very close knit community. Everyone does know everyone! The community are extremely religious too, following Christian traditions that the rest of the country have long lost touch with such as keeping the Sabbath.

We drove all the way to the very south of the island to check out the medieval St. Clement's Church in Rodel. From there, we drove through miles of hilly terrain, passing by stunning mountain ranges and beaches, to arrive at the Harris Tweed Company shop in Grosebay.

Ed and I love Harris Tweed. Procuring the tweed straight from the weavers was another motivation for visiting the Outer Hebrides. Although we did a fair bit of window shopping around Harris, we finally bought our tweed from a weaver in Lewis. I'd like to have visited Donald Mackay's ( well known Harris Tweed weaver) shed in Luskentyre but we ran out of time. If you do visit the area, I think it would be good to look him up.

Other things to do in Harris include checking out more beaches, 'black houses' and hill walking. We did some of this in Lewis rather than Harris and I'll provide a more detailed account of it in my upcoming post.

The peace and quiet, soulful scenery, the community that lives simply with very grounded values, the people that soldier on despite the constantly wild weather...they all make Harris particularly good for the soul.

I am a huge advocate for the Western Isles and I can't wait to go back. I hope you plan a visit too. Ann x

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