Hebridean Hop 11: Eriskay

Tuesday 7th August 2018

Lochboisdale Hotel

The Lochboisdale Hotel was our South Uist home for the next week. The hotel itself has seen better days, though the staff were lovely, the food was good, and we never tired of admiring this view which was taken from below our bedroom window.
The hotel first opened in 1882, so can be forgiven a few quirks. I rather liked that they honoured one of the previous hosts with this memorial in the carpark. He had a long tenure.

On our first morning, we decided to walk round to the new marina which was opened in 2015. On the way we passed this signpost – it was nice to know how far we were from home, and I can understand why Mallaig was there (ferries run from Lochboisdale to Mallaig on the mainland), but Prince Edward Island? I thought maybe it was a nod to the wave of emigration to Canada in the 1920s, but I read that Alberta was the most common destination. It’s a puzzle! The other picture is just because I loved the vivid colour of the seaweed.

More signs! We often saw “otter crossing” warnings in the Hebrides but, sadly, no otters. The other sign was typical of those at many new developments with its nod to the support of the European Regional Development Fund. How’s that going to work out after Brexit then? (Rhetorical question – don’t tell me!)

The marina is beautiful with our hotel glistening whitely behind it. And look at the sky and the sea! It was going to be a good day.

From the marina, we headed back to the hotel to pick up the car: destination Eriskay. To get there, we had to drive to the southern tip of the island. We stopped off at another old hotel, the Polochar Inn, and its nearby standing stone.

From here, we drove along the south coast in some excitement – this is where we stayed in 1989. I remember the shock when the woman in the Tourist Information Office told us she had found us a B&B in East Kilbride. At the time, I worked in a very different East Kilbride, a town near Glasgow. The first shock this year was to come across this beautiful camp site and café. There was absolutely nothing like that along this road 30 years ago. Of course, we had to stop for a coffee.

The next shock was that our B&B had gone. It was right next to the Ludaig ferry which (at the time) crossed to Eriskay. The picture of John with the cat is 1989, but the pictures of the ferry and the house below that were taken in 1993 from the Barra-Eriskay ferry. Further below that is the house which has replaced “ours”.

We have stayed in many lovely B&Bs and inns over the years, but somehow this one remains particularly magical in our memory. We remember so clearly the woman who ran it with such warm hospitality, and had a fantasy that she’d still be around and we might run into her. After the disappointment of finding the house had been replaced, John did a bit of Googling and discovered she died in April. I actually felt quite sad about someone I had only met for a few days nearly 30 years ago.

Anyway, onwards. There is now a causeway to Eriskay and the ferry has disappeared too. On arrival, we parked at the community hall and headed for the village. This cottage caught our eye with its owl perched on the fence.

Then before long, what do you know? We reached the pub, Am Politician, and it wasn’t too early for lunch. It hasn’t changed much – we also came here on our 1993 trip with our friends Pat and John.

Am Politician is named after the SS Politician which ran aground in the Sound of Eriskay in 1941 – carrying 22,000 bottles of whisky! The subsequent raiding and plundering inspired Compton Mackenzie’s novel Whisky Galore, and the film based on it. (Galore, meaning abundance, comes from the Gaelic gu leòir meaning plenty, so it’s an appropriate title.)

From the pub, we could look back at the (much-zoomed) Polochar Inn.

Then we reached another lovely graveyard overlooking the sea (I’m losing count of how many that is now).

The three stones in a row are unknown sailors from the Merchant Navy in the Second World War. The Celtic cross marks the grave of Father Allan Macdonald, Eriskay’s priest from 1894-1905, who built St Michael’s Church which is still in use. He was also a renowned poet, bard and Gaelic scholar.

Our next stop was Coilleag a’ Phrionnsa (the Prince’s Cockle Strand) where Charles Edward Stuart landed in 1745 to start the, ultimately unsuccessful, Jacobite Rising.

Have you seen those dreadful articles and adverts that advise you how to get your beach body ready? (The correct answer being: have a body, go to the beach.) Here’s the beach body I needed – clad in three layers, all fastened up almost to the chin!

A bit of road walking now took us to another beautiful bay. I liked this sign on the way. Na Pairceanan is the Gaelic name of this area, but to me it looked remarkable like Nae Parkin’, the Glaswegian for No Parking. Small things amuse me sometimes …

As we rounded the bay, a rock face decorated with the Stations of the Cross led up a grassy hill to a cross and an excellent viewpoint.

Retracing our steps, we continued round the bay. These small islets with deer and goat sculptures were part of someone’s garden.Continuing to the far end of the bay, we crossed the headland to another small bay on the other side. It was peaceful and pretty, but our walking map suggested there might otters and they resolutely refused to appear.

Retracing our steps again, we walked back up the road and climbed to Loch Crakavaig where the map indicated we might see some rare Eriskay ponies. This time we were lucky!

Descending the hill, the road took us back to our car at the community hall, passing Our Lady of Fatima who marks the site of the original church on the island.

Then it was back over the causeway to South Uist for dinner and to make plans for another day’s exploring.

45 thoughts on “Hebridean Hop 11: Eriskay

  1. Eunice October 22, 2018 / 20:25

    I could quite happily stay at that camp site, the place looks lovely, and I love the ponies and the little islets with the deer and goat sculptures 🙂

    Like

  2. Birgit October 17, 2018 / 15:20

    I love your pictures and it must have been bittersweet going back to place you stayed at many years ago. I love that pic of the brilliant blue water with the Inn in the background.

    Like

  3. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) October 17, 2018 / 15:03

    Maybe somewhere there is an Anne of Green Gables fan, hence the Prince Edward Island sign. That’s certainly the main reason I want to visit PEI!

    Like

  4. edgar62 October 16, 2018 / 00:47

    Another great post of the Islands. The ponies were lovely and I see you took the jacket off when you left the beach. Really………… Nae Parking……… You’re a worry :o)

    Like

  5. maristravels October 14, 2018 / 15:34

    The view from your b&b is alone worth the journey to Scotland. I think I’d sit in the window all day just gazing out at the lake.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. TheRamblingWombat October 14, 2018 / 13:07

    Lots of history together with special memories for you. The whole area looks gorgeous. It’s been a long time since I saw Whisky Galore.. time for another look.

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    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter October 14, 2018 / 14:49

      It’s been a long time since we saw Whisky Galore too. I remember watching it in our hotel in Barra (where it was actually filmed) in the early 90s, that was probably the last time.

      Like

  7. Jemima Pett October 14, 2018 / 12:20

    More wonderful pictures and memories. I’m with you on being sad for someone who warmed your heart for a wee while many years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter October 14, 2018 / 13:07

      Yes, she made a big impression. And did you notice I managed to get your blog to accept a comment earlier? As I have probably said before, WordPress moves in mysterious ways.

      Like

  8. Ann Coleman October 13, 2018 / 20:41

    I’m sorry that your beloved B&B was gone, and the woman who ran it. Some places, and people, are so special that they remain in our minds for many years afterwards. But it looks as if the rest of your trip was a good one, and certainly quite beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter October 13, 2018 / 23:03

      It was quite a shock! I remember her as not being that much older than us, so too young to die. Then I remember how old we are now 😟. But yes, it was a lovely day despite the sad tinge.

      Like

  9. Eilene Lyon October 12, 2018 / 14:09

    Gorgeous places, especially with the clear weather. I imagine it can be quite gloomy on a rainy day.
    As for Alberta, I expect the Canadian government was offering a good deal on cheap land there to encourage settlement.

    Like

    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter October 12, 2018 / 16:28

      We were lucky to avoid too much rain, though it had its days. Very gloomy. Yes, I expect Alberta must have offered incentives. I imagine the terrain came as quite a surprise!

      Liked by 1 person

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