The Outer Hebrides

The lands stretch without end and the skies rage like some old moody god. Inescapable, all-pervasive–on Scotland’s westernmost islands, the elements are your constant companions. Billion-year-old mountains rise up from the sea, in appearance quite literally like the moon, made up in parts of rocks that formed the lunar highlands. Simple houses stand far apart from one another, miles lie between one village and the next. People are a rare sight, but prehistory is everywhere. Just a few days spent around the Outer Hebrides give you a sense of the immensity of the universe, the island sights sometimes a picture of simplicity and perfection, that quickly get transformed into a dystopian vision as the sky greys, the winds start to howl and you look around and find you are the only person there.

 

A Hebridean welcome--a tractor and some boats on land, empty roads and turbulent skies, that followed us where we went on these mysterious isles.
A Hebridean welcome–a tractor and some boats on land, empty roads and turbulent skies, that followed us where we went on these mysterious isles.
an old barn at Achmore village on the Isle of Lewis
Scenes by the wayside / Achmore village, Isle of Lewis
a pair of cows and endless pastures at Achmore village
Endless pastures with a view
Dun Carloway is Scotland's best-preserved broch. Built during the Iron Age, possibly in the first century AD, the Carloway broch stands on top of a steep hill overlooking the changing tides of the towns and the sea below.
Dun Carloway is Scotland’s best-preserved broch. Built during the Iron Age, possibly in the first century AD, the Carloway broch stands on top of a steep hill overlooking the changing tides of the towns and the sea below.
The Callanish stone circles from the late Neolithic era continue to puzzle the questioning visitor, but for the island residents, it is now also the starting point of a popular summer marathon.
The Callanish stone circles from the late Neolithic era continue to puzzle the questioning visitor, but for the island residents, it is now also the starting point of a popular summer marathon.
Blackhouses at Gearrannan village. These are centuries-old traditional crofters' houses, used for both livestock and people. Occupied till the 1970s, the blackhouses were given conservation status and preserved after their residents moved to more modern accommodation to avoid the difficult upkeep of drystone and thatchwork.
Blackhouses at Gearrannan village. These are centuries-old traditional crofters’ houses, used for both livestock and people. Occupied till the 1970s, the blackhouses were given conservation status and preserved after their residents moved to more modern accommodation to avoid the difficult upkeep of drystone and thatchwork.
Sheep graze at the Port of Ness, unperturbed by the North Sea gales.
Sheep graze at Port Sto in Ness, unperturbed by the Atlantic gales.
Driving across the Western Isles, you may encounter few cars and perhaps no people, but you will always share the road with sheep.
Driving across the Western Isles, you may encounter few cars and perhaps no people, but you will always share the road with sheep.
Two islanders take a walk on an empty stretch of Luskentyre beach on the Isle of Harris and make a minimalist photographer very happy.
Two islanders take a walk on an empty stretch of Luskentyre beach on the Isle of Harris and make a minimalist photographer very happy.
A couple walk a dog at a near-empty Luskentyre beach, whose beginning and end are nowhere in sight. What does it mean to live in a place so detached and desolate when the rest of the world can't keep pace with itself?
A couple walks a dog at a near-empty Luskentyre beach, whose beginning and end are nowhere in sight. What does it mean to live in a place so detached and desolate when the rest of the world can’t keep pace with itself?
The result is of course a dwindling population, owing to the inevitable migrations of the young to places of business and commerce, diversity and activity, in search of a life of more interesting complexities than the arduous mundaneness of Hebridean living--one of the few lifestyle options available on these faraway islands. In evidence, a lone house in Scarista village, Isle of Harris.
The result is of course a dwindling population, owing to the inevitable migrations of the young to places of business and commerce, diversity and activity, in search of a life of more interesting complexities than the arduous mundaneness of Hebridean living–one of the few lifestyle options available on these faraway islands.
In evidence, a lone house in Scarista village, Isle of Harris.
Another empty road leading away from Scarista beach to the village, picture perfect under a rare golden sun.
Another empty road leading away from Scarista beach to the village, picture perfect under an expressive sky.
Dusk spreads across the sky over the harbour at Tarbert, the main town on the Isle of Harris.
Dusk spreads across the sky over the harbour at Tarbert, the main town on the Isle of Harris.

Back to top

4 Comments

Add yours →

  1. How are we NOT following you?? But not to worry, we are following now 🙂

    Great photos… love the black and white to them! Gives such an air of mystery to the essay! Thanks for visiting our blog and for sharing this post with us.

    Happy Friday to you for tomorrow.

    Like

  2. Beautiful photos, I think Black and White works really well here – Creates some really atmospheric photos. I would love to visit the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides – I love your description of the rugged landscape, it does sound very appealing. Having lived in England all my life, I’ve only visited Scotland once so far!

    Liked by 1 person

share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: