On Monday, I catch a ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway, for my first proper trip to the Isle of Lewis.
Following a lovely lunch and a sunny clifftop walk with an elusive friend (known for four years but never met) on Point, I head south out of Stornoway, turning right at Leurbost and all the way over to Mangersta on the west of the island. It’s an amazingly scenic drive, vast swathes of machair punctuated by lochs, rocks and hills, and the sun in a bright blue and white sky over the bigger hills of Harris to the south.
The two-lane highway on which I started quickly gives way to a single track road with passing places, curves and dips.
I check in at the Mangersta Pod, and meet Tosh and Ged – my Airbnb hosts. Tosh is from Lancashire originally, but moved to Lewis over fifty years ago. The Pod has a small hob, microwave, fridge, shower room, and – mercifully as I have zero 4G reception from anywhere west of Uig – wifi.
After a quick dinner, I embark on my second clifftop walk of the day, encountering numerous sheep but no humans as I tramp through marshy fields to the edge of the cliffs, spectacular sea stacks, and over and down to Mangersta beach. The beach is stunning. Sadly it’s not safe for swimming.
A squall comes out of nowhere, and I take emergency shelter in the lee of a rock.
The rain passed, I watch the sun go down over the Atlantic. It occurs to me that – coming this far north – I’ve gained twenty minutes of evening light.
I walk back to the Pod through the gloaming. As I settle in for the night it’s astonishingly quiet and very, very dark.