I’ll Keep you Safe

How lovely to read a book set in the Outer Hebrides and find mention of places with which you are familiar. . . .Stornaway, The Digby Chicks, the library, the Lion Hotel and many of the place names on the island of Harris, it was like a revisit of our recent holiday there.

The book is I’ll Keep You Safe by Peter May, renowned for the Lewis Trilogy among others.

I had this book on my reserve list at the library and finally it became available.  I read it in a couple of days.  Terrific book.  His descriptive writing brings the island of Harris to life.

From the book cover:

“Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft.

Niamh begins to look back on her life with Ruairidh, desperate to identify anyone who may have held a grudge against him. The French police, meanwhile, have ruled out terrorism, and ruled in murder – and sent Detective Sylvie Braque to shadow their prime suspect: Niamh.

As one woman works back through her memories, and the other moves forward with her investigation, the two draw ever closer to a deadly enemy with their own, murderous, designs.”

This Peter May book did not disappoint.  There is a particularly good review on Goodreads by Jeffrey Keeten

Tuesday Travels. . . Eriskay

These are the ferry routes of Calmac Ferries and we chose to do the Island Hopper Route from Oban to Barra to Eriskay to South Uist, North Uist to Harris and Lewis and then back to the mainland at Ullapool. (All the orange islands)

We had good weather for the short trip across to Eriskay from Barra.

This is the small harbour where the ferry pulled up to let us disembark.

Gaelic is the prominent language on the signs with English taking second place.

Although only a small island (about 2.5 by 1.5 miles, 4.0 km × 2.4 km), Eriskay has many claims to fame that have made the island well-known. 

Eriskay is associated with the traditional Hebridean song, the Eriskay Love Lilt and is also known as the real  Whisky Galore! island.  It was just off Eriskay that the SS Politician ran aground in 1941 with its famous cargo.  If you visit the restaurant SS Politician in Eriskay behind the bar there is a bottle of the original whisky, procured from the wreck of the ship,

On 2 August 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie landed on Eriskay to start the ‘Forty-Five Jacobite Rising‘.

Apparently this is beach where Prince Charlie landed.  Our accommodation was the house on the point of the promontory.  It had magnificent views and the service was impeccable.  I can highly recommend An Taigh Mor. for accommodation on Eriskay.

The view from the upstairs balcony.

This shows the causeway between Eriskay and South Uist.  Perfect weather for our forward journey to South Uist.

Tuesday Travels. . . .The island of Barra

On arrival in Barra after our ferry trip the weather was what you would call overcast but it added to the atmosphere of the island and didn’t prevent us from heading off on our trip around the island.Above Castlebay on an isolated hilltop stands this memorial to those from the island who lost their lives in the wars.

We also wanted to check the ferry terminal at Ardmor for our departure later in the day and it was at the ferry terminal we spotted this lovely sculpture of otters.  We didn’t spot any live otters although there were many signs telling us to look out for them.We wanted to see if it was possible to view a take off or landing on Barra sands so we set off for Barra airport and by this time the weather had cleared up.

Barra Airport is a short-runway airport situated in the wide shallow bay of Traigh Mhòr at the northern tip of the island. The airport is unique, being the only one in the world where scheduled flights use a beach as the runway

The sands seem to stretch for a long way and was edged with what they call machair. 

We were lucky enough to watch this plane come in to land on the sands.

Our next stop was back towards Castlebay and a visit to Barra Gin. A purchase was made.

We headed back to Craigard Hotel for a late lunch and enjoyed a less dreich view from the restaurant. The Ardmor ferry terminal was our next stop before heading off to Eriskay.

There is a wonderful website called The Chaotic Scot and she has written a fantastic post about the island of Barra.  It is well worth a look if you are interested.

Tuesday Travels.. . . . .Oban to Castlebay

In order to get to the Outer Hebrides we had to catch a ferry from Oban.  We had booked a Bed and Breakfast not far out of Oban and spent the night there before catching the ferry the next day.  We had time to look around Oban as the ferry didn’t leave until later in the day.

This was the view from our B&B unfortunately the standard of the B&B wasn’t great but it was a bed.  We walked from the B&B to a local restaurant for a meal but it was booked out so we walked a little further and came across this wonderful place.

The Falls of Lora Hotel.  We were able to procure a table for dinner and enjoyed a delicious meal, part of which was this fantastic cheeseboard with the most delicious oatcakes.

The following morning we had a bit of a wander around Oban.  We had been there previously but we hadn’t taken the time to visit the folly, McCaig’s Tower.

There is a great view of Oban from the folly.

Back down in the town we had time to visit the distillery and we also were fortunate to see a display of Highland dancing and pipe music.

The visit to the Oban distillery was interesting and we bought a bottle of their whisky after doing some tastings.

Our ferry crossing was from Oban to Catlebay on the island of Barra.

This was the first time we had seen the front of a ferry open up to take the cars, we were used to seeing a ramp lowered to let cars board.

The weather was not the best when we were on board but we were excited to finally be on our way to the Outer Hebrides.

It was still dreich when we arrived at Castlebay but our welcome at the Craigard Hotel was great and we felt comfortably at home.

Tuesday travels. . .Cruachan, Loch Awe and the Pass of Brander

On our trip to Oban from Dullatur we passed this loch, which is Loch Awe, and we made an impromptu turn into the layby.  We were surprised to find that close by was a Hydro Power station that included a visitors’ centre. The Cruachan Visitors Centre proved to be a worthwhile stop.  We were there at the right time for one of the guided tours which was very informative.  You had to board a small bus to be driven into the “hollow mountain” and to view the working part of the power station.

After our tour we visited the cafe and had a delicious lunch.

There is a beautiful view of the loch from the cafe. There is also a great view from the layby.

It is always pleasing when you come across information boards at locations.  Robert the Bruce defeated John MacDougall of Lorne, a supporter of Edward II, at the Battle of the Pass of Brander in 1308, two years after Bruce had been crowned King of Scotland.  He was trying to establish his position in Scotland by defeating supporters of Edward, King of England.

This was an unplanned stop on our travels that was well worth it.

Tuesday Travels . . .The Kelpies

After visiting the Falkirk Wheel we decided we would walk the tow path along the canal to the Kelpies.  I had been to the Kelpies before but my husband wasn’t with me when I did that trip.The Kelpies are a huge tourist attraction and you can experience it for yourself in this video.

Our walk along the tow path took us past several interesting features.This was in front of a disused distillery.

This one is more difficult to see but these three men were notable for their achievements in Falkirk. it is a pity that the signage was defaced.

On our return to the Falkirk Wheel and our awaiting car we stopped at this great Italian restaurant

and partook of some pizza washed down with an ale for my husband and a cider for me.  The food was delicious.

We didn’t realise that the restaurant had won an award.