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South Uist (Scotland)

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      18.01.2010 11:45
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      A place to visit if like me you love remote and beautiful destinations!

      Although I spend many weeks every year on the Island Of North Uist in The Outer Hebrides, it is only a step away into the rugged southern edge of the island chain known as South Uist, which lies over the causeway beyond the island of Benbecula. So for this review I will take you on a journey which begins at the northern end of the island of South Uist.

      You may have landed at the airport in Benbecula, or be travelling south from North Uist to see what lies beyond; if you have arrived by ferry into the southern end of South Uist at Lochboisdale, this review may read upside down for you, but that probably won't matter for a while, as no doubt if you have endured the 8 hour sailing via the island of Barra, you may feel your head is spinning for a while until your feet firmly settle on dry land!

      South Uist is a long thin island which stretches for 22 miles and is never more than 7 miles across. There is one spine road (The A865) and several roads which lead off in different directions east and west. The west coast is absolutely beautiful with virtually unbroken sands which are deserted and fringed by Machair, which is fertile grazing land studded with wild flowers of every colour. In the summer these meadows are incredible, and the sound of bumble bees and the colours of golden yellows, intense blues and pinks illuminate and cuddle the coastline in a carpet of flowers. If you have never seen it then it will blow you away.

      The east coast is less accessible as you travel south, as a high range of mountains runs along the edge separating the two coastlines from each other. These hills are imposing and provide challenging walks and climbs to those in search of adventure. Two mountains dominate the chain, Beinn Mhor and Hecla which are 2033 and 1988 ft respectively. Along this coastline there are 3 seawater lochs, Skipport, Eynort and Lochboisdale.

      So leaving Benbecula the first place you may like to visit is Hebridean Jewellery. This is a treasure trove of hand made jewellery all made in a Celtic style. The workshop is situated in Iochdar which is reached by a simple right turn, and here the business has a lovely shop and café with stunning views over the sea. I can highly recommend this café which serves home made treats in a stunning location at very reasonable prices.

      Hebridean Jewellery
      Tel: 01870 610288
      Garrieganichy, Carnan, Iochdar, Isle Of South Uist, HS8 5QX

      Loch Druidibeg
      --------------------

      The next stop for your journey south is to see the famous Eriskay ponies that live in the wild Loch Druidibeg nature reserve. I have written about this place before on Dooyoo so you might like to look this review up if you are planning a trip there. It is a wildlife paradise and the Eriskay ponies that live in these remote hills are friendly, and make fantastic photographic subjects! This area is south of Iochtar and a left turn off the main road and well signposted. The single track road meanders through wild scenery and rhododendrons, before coming to rest by the shores of loch Skipport, where patience may reward you with the sight of seals or otters in the sheltered harbour.
      We often take a picnic there and sit for a while. It's an intensely peaceful place, far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

      Howmore
      -------------
      To continue south must include a visit to Howmore which is a right turn and again well signposted. This is a step back in time as here are the preserved thatched black houses and ruined chapels dating back to the 12th century. It is also the site of a hostel which you can stay in for a very cheap price.
      http://www.syha.org.uk/hostels/islands/howmore.aspx

      Loch Eynort
      ---------------
      So back to the main road. A left turn from the main road takes you to Loch Eynort. This is a beautiful unspoilt area which has gorgeous walks, which take you right into the heart of the hills where sea otters and seals are frequently spotted.

      Kildonan Museum
      -----------------------
      http://www.kildonanmuseum.co.uk/

      Further south on the left is the Kildonan Museum which is well worth a look as it has exhibitions, a shop selling local crafts and an excellent tea room which serves cakes to die for! Go for the almond sponge it is really fantastic! The craft shop has always got beautiful hand knitted gloves which are fantastic for the winters and always make great Christmas gifts.

      As you continue the drive south you eventually reach the main town of Lochboisdale where there is a ferry to Oban. Also on this southern tip is the town of Ludag which has now a causeway built in 2001 linking the Island of Eriskay to the island chain. Prior to this we used to have to take the ferry, which was always subject to delays and cancellations as bad weather was always a problem, but now a spectacular causeway makes for an exciting drive where you can end your journey on an island which is stunningly beautiful, and home to more of the wild ponies. This island is also now the ferry terminal for travelling to Barra. Eriskay is a small but compact island only 2.5 x 1.5 miles, and I think much more about beauty, than about how it became famous, when the ship the SS Politician went aground with its famous cargo of Whisky in 1941. It has a great pub with stunning views, which provides a perfect way to end your day, and to reflect on the journey, which I think is one of the most beautiful in The UK.

      South Uist is a beautiful place untouched by the hand of tourism,yet developed enough to ensure you have well stocked Co-op supermarkets and modern hotels with excellent reputations. My advice-go soon as it is stunningly beautiful, but beware of the weather-it can be dreadful!

      Hotels
      http://www.polocharinn.com/
      http://www.orasayinn.co.uk/
      http://www.isleshotelgroup.co.uk/borrodale_hotel.htm
      http://www.lochboisdale.com/

      Holiday cottages can be found by contacting the tourist information below.

      Tourist Information
      South Uist - Lochboisdale
      Pier Road
      Lochboisdale
      Isle of South Uist
      HS8 5TH
      Telephone: 01878 700286
      Fax: 01878 700286
      Open: April - October

      A very useful website is also
      http://www.visithebrides.com/

      Transport
      --------------
      www.flybe.com.
      The island is served by flights from Glasgow operated by Flybe. These flights are 26 seater twin propeller aircraft and a flight will also provide beautiful views over the islands on approach into the airport.
      You can then hire a car from any of these providers;
      MacLennans Garage T 01870 602191 (we always use these and they are superb)
      Ask Car Hire T 01870 602818
      Laing Motors Car Hire T 01878 700267

      www.calmac.co.uk.

      Ferries sail here from Oban into Lochboisdale and into Lochmaddy in North Uist from the Isle of Skye. Recent changes to the tariffs making them a road equivalent cost has now made these journeys more affordable than ever before.

      Also on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.

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