Unfortunately, 2008 did not turn out to be as prolific for photo trips as I anticipated following my retirement with only the one memorable trip to the Outer Hebrides in May. I can only put this down to my ongoing recovery from the heart attack which was more psychological than physical. It certainly makes you think more carefully about what you are doing rather than just getting on with things particularly walking in out of the way places on your own.
Before going to the Outer Hebrides I took the plunge and bought another camera this time a Canon 5D which from memory had either just been replaced by the Mark 2 or was about to be, which I thought would be the ideal time to acquire one as prices would have dropped. I am not normally a user of eBay but on this occasion, I did take the opportunity and after a lot of watching came across a 5D that someone was selling due to emigration who had only had the camera from new for a couple of months. Anyway to cut a long story short I acquired the camera for approx £350 below the price of a new one. The camera prior to its more recent replacement was considered to be one of the best cameras for landscape photography and I certainly have no regrets in acquiring it.
Well enough of that, off to the Outer Hebrides via the Isle of Skye with a one night stop that allowed me the opportunity to produce the image below. Considered to be one of the best views in the British Isles, I was very fortunate to see it on such a clear day.
Sailing from Uig in the north of Skye to Tarbert on Harris took about 2hrs and then I drove to Stornaway on Lewis for a 3-night stay. In this timescale, it was possible to tour most of Lewis and Harris including a visit to the Calanais Stones. The most memorable part of this area was the 20-mile single track dead end drive to Hunisinis on the south-west corner of Harris with a walk along the coast to Loch Crabhadail. The image below shows just how fortunate I was with the weather. For some time now Harris has been bidding to become Scotland’s third National Park but it as just been announced that this has been turned down. Whilst this is unfortunate for the locals, the majority of which seemed to be supporting the bid you could say it is good news for the landscape and those of us who have visited and hopefully will visit again one day.
Moving on from Harris I caught the ferry to Berneray via the Sound of Harris and managed to sit on deck throughout the sailing. The Sound of Harris is full of islands, islets and rocks, and the route followed by the ferry is a roundabout one covering nine nautical miles in an hour. My next base was on Benbecula which allowed time touring the Uists and Benbecula before passing onto Eriskay and sailing to Barra (the location of the current BBC2 series Island Parish). I would say that the landscape of the Uists and Benbecula are the least photogenic of all the islands but I may have a different view if I ever return.
I only had the one night and two days on Barra and its near neighbour Vatersay the southernmost inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides. It is also the westernmost permanently inhabited place in the British Isles. Two fabulous islands which although quite small certainly needed at least another day or two to do them justice. Wonderful beaches and clear blue waters – you would have thought I was back in Jamaica. The overnight stay was spent on the beach close to the airport which is situated in the wide shallow bay of Traigh Mhor at the north tip of Barra. The airport is unique, being the only one in the world where scheduled flights use a beach as the runway.
The five-hour sail back to Oban was in excellent weather and allowed me to spend time on deck taking in the views as I past Ardnamurchan Point and past Tobermory through the Sound of Mull.
Perhaps it is fortunate that I only had one trip to write about this year otherwise you may have had a book to read instead of a chapter.