Friday, 4 July 2008

Vatersay

The Western Isles - there are few better places to be on a fine, sunny day. Take Vatersay, for example. Now the most southerly inhabited island in the Western Isles, Vatersay was threatened with depopulation before a new causeway was built in 1991 - accessed from Barra via a steep side-road.

At the bottom of the Vatersay Pass, Barra:


The northern half of this small island is rocky and hilly, with a couple of scattered crofts. The southern half is quite different - a hammerhead of flower-bursting machair bounded by shallow bays of pure white sand, hosting the island's township.

Vatersay Dunes:


At the West Beach, a memorial marks a 19th century tragedy - emigrant ship 'Annie Jane', bound from Liverpool to Canada, ran aground and sank here in a storm, taking 350 lives. The bodies that were recovered are buried in the machair.

Bagh a' Deas:


Today the scene is a peaceful and a happy one, especially if a concert by the Vatersay Boys - the local folk band whose fame has grown across the West Highlands and beyond - is to be held in the village hall.

Bagh Siar:


We arrived in Vatersay late one summer evening after a long rail and ferry journey from Edinburgh and Oban, and sat outside the tent, enjoing the gloaming until nearly midnight. We took a leisurely walk around Vatersay next day, enjoying the wild flowers and irises on the machair, the pale sandy beaches, the views of Sandray, Pabbay and Mingulay to the south, and the sight and sound of herons, corncrake and other little birds.

Machair flowers:


It is possible to camp on the machair and use the facilities in the village hall, and as the first point of call on a tour of the Western Isles, for peace, tranquility and beauty it cannot be beaten.

Bagh Bhatarsaidh:

1 comment:

Billy said...

Got any pictures ofthe summer isles covered in snow?