19.9 miles 1409ft
Another fantastic day! We’ve handed in our Western Isles loyalty card and we’ve got more reward points than we realised. We dared to hope for one good day on the islands and instead we’ve had five!
Last night the stove in front of the camping hut didn’t really give out much in the way of heat (though Ian reckons it warmed up after I’d gone to bed) but inside was warm and cosy thanks to the extra bedspread Duncan had given us to put on top of the duvet. Nevertheless we were up early and off for the last full days walking of the tour.
The first stretch of the walk involved crossing the interior to get from the west coast to the north. The interior is basically peat land and there was lots of evidence of peat cutting going on. As we dropped down to the north we were treated to some wonderful views of the sea and white sands with traditional blackhouses beautifuly positioned as if just waiting to take their place on a postcard. This side of North Uist seems to have a wealthier feel to it with fewer houses, all spaced apart. We were making a call to Joy to check on packing preparations ahead of her and Jim coming up to join us tomorrow, but I had to cut her short. As we rounded a corner we were greeted by the most stupendous view of all the Harris hills before us, with a lovely interplay between a blue and jade sea forming swirly patterns with shades of yellow where the sand rose above the water line, the whole creating a scene that was just stunning. We could see from Roneval at the southern tip of Harris to the Mealasta Hills on Lewis, with the hills of North Harris dominating the foreground. Ian could even make out Luskentyre and its sand dunes (he did have his glasses). Just super.
We stopped for a while just to savour the view. Then continuing on to Berneray we saw so many other uninhabited islands, some with their own beaches, which must be lovely to sail out out on a day like today. The hills on Skye and the mainland put in an appearance again and when we reached Berneray itself it afforded yet more beautiful sea views including seals basking on the rocks just beneath the window of our room in the b’n’b. We are sat here now. The sea has turned a very deep blue but there is still not a cloud in the sky. Tomorrow is the last day of our walk and a weeks rest beckons on Harris, our favourite of all the islands, and again full of memories – fiercely fought football matches (with silver foil and cardboard trophies), ultimately disappointing meals at Scarista House (saved for all year), body boarding, sunsets, Rock Kitties performances, basking sharks, porpoises, Mr and Mrs Seal, fires on the beach, sand wrestling, golf (including a hole in one by yours truly who can’t play golf at all), Jim’s office, big waves, naked policemen (don’t ask) and more recently Harris gin – but always, lots of laughing and good times.
It’s going to be very strange to finish. But we are looking forward to seeing Joy and Jim, and it won’t be long before we see Jo and Hannah and other family and friends, which will make for a lovely return home. In the meantime, it’s a beautiful evening. I think we should go for a walk…
The last few weeks have thrown up many surprises, ie Edinburgh is better than Venice, pets are nice, Lidl “Choco and Caramel” bars (made by Mr Choc) are loads better the Marsbars and, at 79p for six, are half the price! One of the biggest surprises though, is having my old teaching pal, Andy Mort, as a text buddy; he’s a bigger technophobe than me. Morty’s latest text, received yesterday, read “Given your amazing weather can you give me any tips for horses to back, and will there be any left for me on Skye?”, which is clearly a euphemism for “You lucky bleeder”. Ah well, if it’s any consolation Andy, I haven’t won on the football fixed odds for over two years. Just after I’d picked up Andy’s text, as we were following the road north to Lochmaddy and admiring Eavel’s ability to punch well above its 1200 ft summit, the Skye Cuillin suddenly appeared, in all its serrated glory, so I texted Andy back and told him the good news. Since then, strangely enough, I haven’t heard back from him.
We set off early this morning, knowing that we’d got a 20 mile stretch ahead of us but also aware that this long, strange, golden road that we’d embarked upon back on 29 March was drawing to an end. There was little time for melancholic musings though, because at 8.30, before we’d barely got into our stride, my phone rang. It was our press officer, telling us that he had arranged an interview with Radio Derby for 5.45 this afternoon. He’d also impressed upon them the need to publicise Muscular Dystrophy UK and Air Ambulance as our other two charities, as well as Tom and Mia’s Legacy. When I told Sharon the news I could see a line of worry on her brow. Yes, it would be her turn to speak to the listenership of Derbyshire and East Staffordshire; she accepted her fate. Here though, in Berneray, in the high north west of the UK, there is no mobile reception, so Radio Derby couldn’t get through to us. Maybe tomorrow.