As you might guess from the title of this post, it was a long day yesterday!
A lot of worrying my last night in Tarbert as it was very windy, which can stop ferries, and I awoke to sleet, hail, more rain. These squalls would blow through and then we’d have brilliant sunshine. Here is the last view from my room – I was hoping the rainbow was a good sign as I said good-bye to my host as he dropped me in the village to continue my journey.
I stopped for a coffee and scone at the Hotel Hebrides.
I then went to the tourist information shop where she assured me that the ferry would be running today so I went to the ferry office to purchase my ticket. Transportation here has turned out to be very inexpensive, I think. The buses have been 5-6 pounds ($8-9) for fairly long distances and the ferry about the same (I was, of course, on foot, not sure what they charge for cars).
I decided there was time for a bit of lunch before my first bus left so worked in lunch back at the Hotel Hebrides. Food was going to be in short supply for the next day and a half or so as the shop at my destination would not be open by the time I got there nor the next day. I picked up a couple things from the shop at this end but lunch sounded like a good idea. It was a lovely fish and chips (with peas of course, which I swear were fresh!)
The bus (a large van this time) left for our about 45 minute trip to Leverburgh to catch the ferry. According to the schedule, I would have about 15 minutes from bus arrival to ferry departure. These times always seem too short for me but keep working out! The next photos are through the van windows but I think pretty stunning anyway.
The road was very winding and, although there were some guardrails, I would have liked more! The road was pretty much one lane most of the times. They have pullover very frequently so whoever is closest to a pullover on their side moves into it to let the oncoming car pass. I also learned from my third bus driver of the day that you do NOT indicate (signal) when you move into these pullovers as that tells the person behind you it is safe to pass you (unless it is safe!) I am storing up all this information in case I return here and want to try driving!
The bus system here is very interesting. There are some formal, scheduled stops along the route but the bus will pick up anyone who waves them down and will drop people off anywhere they ask. We had one group who was looking for their rental cottage and so showed the driver a photo of it on their tablet so they’d know when to stop and another gentleman that asked to just be let off “at the land rover”!
We got to the ferry at Leverburgh and a nice crewman carried all my bags on for me. I am traveling light but any help is appreciated.
The views from the ferry were great, although with the rain and strong winds, I took them from inside.
Here is the very interesting part of this ferry crossing. We are crossing the Sound of Harris. The waters here can be very shallow so the sailings are dependent on the tide schedule. The trips have to be timed for when the tide is in, creating more water for the ferry to be in. I had looked up this crossing back when planning the trip only to find out by accident that the time had changed. Luckily, I found out in time, although it was delayed for two hours so at least I wouldn’t have missed it.
Here is the route the ferry takes through the Sound. If you follow the red line you will see how carefully the captain has to steer to make it safely through. Those green patches are what is under the water – but not very deep! This map was very interesting as it shows all the depths. So, follow the red line top to bottom (north to south) and you will see our journey.
So, how does the captain do it? Navigation buoys. A gentleman standing next to me on the ferry was happy to explain it to me in great detail. Here is the short version: the captain steers to keep the red buoys on his right and the green ones on his left. It was really a slolum course through the Sound. I would think there was no way he could make it between the buoys and then, of course, he did – over and over. Once, when I saw we were going to have a red buoy on our LEFT, I went looking for that gentleman who explained to me that we were now halfway or so across so the buoys are reversed. All I can say is it takes very skillful people to navigate this Sound and I have a new respect for captains! Here’a a shot of the green and red buoys.
And a close up of a red one. These are anchored, of course, but periodically pulled up and checked.
We approached land at Berneray so I hurried to go below and find my luggage so as to get off the ferry quickly as the schedule said there was only a 5 minute gap between ferry arrival and bus departure (last bus of day). I was told that the bus waits for the ferry but I wasn’t sure whether to count on that or not (if you haven’t figured it out by now, I tend to worry a lot!)
Turns out, yes, they do wait and I couldn’t have had two nicer drivers on my last two buses of the day. Knowledgable about the area and willing to answer my questions. The second one even has sheep so we had a good chat on the two hours or so ride.
Did find a few more trees, not many, and, of course, beautiful views of stones, water and sheep!
As we approach our destination of Eriskay, there is another causeway to go over – the most recently built one in the islands, linking South Uist to Eriskay. You can see the stones of the causeway in the upper left of this photo.
As we turn and head across the causeway, my driver points out the cottage where I will be staying.
A short walk and a helpful lift from a neighbor, and I arrive at Carrick – “The Blue House”.
Tomorrow, the animals of Carrick!