Thursday, 28 August 2008

Beaches of South Harris

The best beaches I have ever seen are those on South Harris. I reckon they are the best in the whole UK. However, my sister has been to Bernera and says there is an even better beach there, better than the ones she saw on Fiji - a claim independently verified by a similarly well travelled friend, Duncan, who also says that the beach on Bernera is the best he has ever seen.

But, I haven't been to Bernera yet, so those of South Harris will have to do.


Arriving in Harris at Leverburgh from the Uists, the machair suddenly gives way to rocks - impudently bursting through the thin earth at every point, loose boulders lying on top. It has been called a moonscape by some. Inhabitants on other islands joke that Harris sheep have specially chiselled noses to seek out the few blades of grass. What is indisputible is that there is insufficient soil to bury the dead on the east of Harris, and coffins had to be carried from the bays settlements to the more fertile west coast, where the people had lived before they were cleared off the land in the 19th century to make way for sheep.

Sandstorm, South Harris:

On to the beaches! The cyclist has the option from Leverburgh of travelling either coast to Tarbet. Thanks to intelligence that morning from a south-bound cyclist in a cafe in Berneray, we knew there was the option of a reasonably flat route past superlative beaches on the west coast, or a torturous twist up and down and round innumerable rocky bays on the east coast. It was not a difficult decision to make.

Traigh Scarista:

The first beach is Traigh Mor, which merges with Traigh Scarista: Miles of pale sand, wind-whipped into a sandstorm out on the beach itself, surf crashing in, the low, rocky hills of Harris as a backdrop. Then Borve; then Traigh Iar; And Nisabost, Seilibost, Luskentyre, Rosamol.

Traigh Seilibost:

Not bad for what is usually described as a bleak, windswept island.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Don't forget your sleeping bag!