Hebrides Day 6. Sheabhal and a Vatersay GoML.

Date: Thursday 6th June 2013
Distance: 4km
Ascent: 500m

Up at dawn again – with perfection on offer sleep can wait for another day.

Got breakfast sorted as the sun climbed on our little pitch on Uist – I liked this one.

Tent on Uist:

Packed up and drove round leaving Uist by causeway and waiting for the ferry from Eriskay to Barra. We were standing out like the tourists we were as we stood out on the deck for the 45 minute journey – the commuters all stayed in their cars.

Heading for Barra:

Off the ferry and we had a wee nosey round the N of Barra – considering camping options. Traigh Mhor was very big and a bit too beachy.

When I’d researched Barra in terms of articles and Streetview I’d worried about a Goml feel to the place. This wasn’t dispelled by a drive to the north end – a lot of “no overnight parking” signage and roadside boulders.

We had a peek at beach at Cidhe Eolaigarraidh which had potential for a campsite about 500m from the carpark and loo. The beach was a peach.

Beach at Cidhe Eolaigarraidh:

Drove round the east side of the island and caught sight of the white statue on the hill – a parking area was found at NL 677 987.

Crossed a fence and followed a rough path uphill with improving views of Castlebay.

Castlebay:

Since we’d arrived on the Hebrides the flowers had leapt forward.

Sundew:

About 30 minutes of loafing had us up to the statue.

Statue and Castlebay:

From the statue another 10 minutes had us on the summit. Sat and absorbed the vista.

In truth the photos dont give a hint of the spread of views – we could see Jura in the south over Tiree, with Coll, Mull, Ardnamurchan, the Small Isles, Skye and the Uists.

This is a view to be savoured, particularly tasty if you’re looking at places you’ve visited.

We loitered up here for an hour – a few others arrived as we lounged in the sun.

Skye, Canna and Rum pano:

Link to larger pano

Castlebay, Vatersay and onwards:

Out to Skye and Rum:

Skye and Rum Pano:

Link to larger pano

Supervisory wheatear:

Marsh orchid:

Headed on north and over an intermediary top to Thartabhal. Better views N from here.

South Uist from Thartabhal:

Thartabhal pano:

Link to larger pano

Beinn Mhor:

Rum – you can tell I like it:

Returned via the ascent route to the car.

We then went for a wander over to Vatersay, still looking for a tent pitch. Looked at Baigh Siar near Bhatarsaigh – the triple topped barbed wire fences were off-putting.

Located a lovely wee pitch 1km west of Uidh opposite Castlebay but on dropping in to Traigh Bharlais NL 619 972 we found what we were looking for.

Headed back to Castlebay and did a quick shop and returned to the end of the public road. Walked past the hand-written “no camping beyond this point” sign and pitched the tent on open machair overlooking the bay.

Orchid:

Machair:

Allak on Machair:

Waves at sunset:

As we were photographing sunset a chap arrived to demand that we lift our tent and leave – “no camping allowed”.

After a brief to and fro where it was claimed Land Access didn’t apply and mention was made of cattle trampling tourists we were left in peace after a firm stand on wild-camping under land access legislation

Traigh Bharlais sunset:


A beautiful place to stay for the night – the shine taken off by the hassle. I’d still go back there to camp and I’ve contacted the local Access Officer in the meantime.

A shame really – after a rather blissful wander over Lewis and Harris where if you can carry a tent a few hundred metres you can have a quiet pitch in a beautiful place Barra and Vatersay felt like a return to bits of the mainland – gomls trying to stop you parking and trying to put you off camping.

Anyhoo another night’s sleep to the sound of surf – and our last day out there to come.

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