I love Great Britain, I think we have some fabulous, truly breathtaking scenery but sometimes I just get the travel bug. Sometimes a trip to the English, Scottish or Welsh coast just doesn’t feel far enough away, and I come home still having that urge to go away.
A few years ago I decided that it was time I visited some of the islands off the West coast of Scotland. Boarding the ferry and leaving the mainland behind was really exciting. It felt exactly as I’d hoped – like I was going away on holiday. When I saw the outline of the chain of islands known as the Outer Hebrides, or Western Isles, on the horizon for the first time, it was exhilarating. I felt like an explorer off to discover a new land.
There are many smaller islands off the coast of Scotland but the largest and most visited in the Outer Hebrides are the Isle of Harris and the Isle of Lewis. They are actually joined so you can easily drive around both islands without really noticing that you are going from one to the other.
Of course, there is still the Great British weather to contend with, so you are by no means guaranteed a week in the sun, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact for landscape photography, a mixed bag of weather is far more desirable. It was May on the Isle of Harris and I remember having to pull my woolly hat down over my ears to keep out the wind as it howled across the empty beach moulding the sand and erasing any footprints from those who had gone before me.
The Isle of Harris has some really stunning sandy beaches. Sadly the beautiful turquoise sea feels more like an ice bath than a warm bath, but the warm evening light makes this beautiful beach look deceptively tropical!!
The Isle of Lewis is the northern part of Lewis and Harris. It has the largest land mass and the largest population of the Outer Hebrides. The landscape is varied with plenty to explore. Roads lead to secluded beaches with large rock stacks like this one near Tolstadh.
Or cliff top walks overlooking wide white sandy bays with turquoise sea like this one at Uig Sands.
The cold wind and changeable weather mean the beaches rarely attract sun worshippers; in fact they don’t seem to attract many people for long, except maybe the more hardy dog walkers. Great expanses of golden beach are relatively untouched which adds to their beauty.
Walking along the sand there are many varied patterns to be found.
If you like touristy spots with plenty of cafés and people watching then the Outer Hebrides won’t be for you, but if you enjoy the great outdoors, don’t mind being battered around by the weather, enjoy walking along rugged coastline or long sandy beaches then the Outer Hebrides should be on your list of places to visit.
About the author:
Cath Evans is a professional landscape and coastal photographer from the UK. She travels nationally and internationally capturing images for her own pleasure and others to enjoy which she shares on her website www.cathevans.com
Cath runs holidays for photographers for www.tripodsatdawn.com where she enjoys sharing her passion and knowledge of photography.