Today's island explore was the one I have been anticipating the most, South Harris following the Golden Road to Rodel, on to Leverburgh and back to Tarbert via the stunning beaches; Northon-Scarista, Borve, Horgabost, Seilebost and Luskentyre.
It was lovely and sunny when we woke up but by the time we were ready to head out, the sky had darkened and become all together more moody. I didn't mind as I thought it would make for more interesting photographs on the Golden Road, but I did secretly hope that by the time we reached the west coast beaches, the light would be good and we would see them in all their turquoise glory.
Before setting off on our exploration of South Harris we headed to the North Harbour Bistro on Scalpay for our lunch. For dinner you must book but we hoped for lunch we could just turn up. We arrived at the same time as a party of four and were the first people there. Our timing was good as the place got busier just after we arrived.
What can I say about the place other than if you are ever in the area you must eat here. It's the most unassuming little cafe/restaurant (with a wall full of awards) and the food is amazing! Mussels for David and black pudding, chorizo and Tempura King prawn for me, followed by halibut with bacon, pea puree and scallops for David and sea bass with scallops for me. North harbour Bistro has jumped into our top 5 meals out.
The Golden Road is absolutely stunning (I am aware I keep repeating myself when talking about the scenery but I can't help it. I am running out of superlatives!) and we saw many amazing sights on our journey including seals at Finsbay, rocks over 3000 years old, dramatic coastline, distant mountains, a bus stop with an office chair, and Santa (see extras for the latter two :-))
We reached Rodel and the beautiful St Clement's Church, the grandest medieval building in the Western Isles. Unfortunately I wasn't able to go inside as it is in an elevated position high up off the road and is accessed by a stone path and steps that looked rather slippery after a recent rain shower.
We carried on to Leverburgh thinking we would have coffee and something sweet at The Anchorage Restaurant and Cafe but we were still too full from lunch, so we carried on west and gasped out loud once again when the road opened up and we were greeted with the amazing sight of the sea and sand at Northton and as we continued round the coast road.
Although the weather wasn't brilliant and the turquoise and sapphire seas I had hoped to see were more of a muted green, the views were still absolutely stunning.
We stopped to take photos overlooking Niseaboist beach then carried on. As we approached the corner of the road that looks over Sielebost beach towards Luskentyre, the rocky outcrop was full of photographers with tripods attempting to get the money shot. I hope they did better than me.
We missed the turn to Luskentyre beach and had to double back (not a problem, as we got to see a small stretch of the road in the opposite direction :-) I had hoped to get a shot of the burial ground that lies close to the beach overlooking the Sound of Taransay and out to the island of Taransay (made famous by the BBC television programme Castaway where a group of people had to live for one year using only the island's resources to survive. It launched the TV career of Ben Fogle) with the azure water beyond but it wasn't to be as the weather was grey and dull. The scene was still stunning. What a beautiful place to rest for eternity.
We followed the road back to Tarbert then back up to Stornoway.