Thursday, July 21, 2016

Afoot on Scarp

On May 24 we got an early start from the Monachs to make the 40 mile trip north to Scarp. Unfortunately the wind was out of the north, which made the usual Scarp anchorage, on the north side of the sandbar between Scarp and Harris, unworkable. So we motored around the south of Scarp and turned left off the jetty at Huisinis to enter Caolas an Scarp (Kyles of Scarp). Passing Huisinis gave us a good view of the Stiomor, the steep path that leads up and over from Huisinis to Cravadale (see the December 31, 2013 post for a description of walking the Stiomor).

The Stiomor climbing the steep hillside to Cravadale
After dropping anchor in Caolas an Scarp we went ashore to explore the village. There used to be a Gatliffe Trust hostel here, but access to the island was (and still is) so very iffy, that it was only in business for four years (1966-1970). The island was mostly abandoned by 1971.

Scarp village
Hjalmar Bjorge anchored in Caolas an Scarp



We ended our tour of the village by taking a look at the sad remnants of the school, and on a brighter note, going inside the beautifully redone church.


Inside the school
Inside the redone church
I wanted to lead some of the guests up and over the hills to see the two Norse Mills on Allt a' Mhuilinn. But the first priority was to say hello to Brian and Sheila Harper, who live on Scarp for most of the spring and summer every year. I first met them six years ago, and no visit to Scarp is complete without stopping to have tea with this lovely couple.

After tea we set out to climb the hill pass between the two peaks of Beinn fo Tuath, and then on to the summit of the higher peak. As you can see in the photo below, on a sunny day the view west to Lochs Resort, Tealsavay, and Hamanavay is amazing.

The view to Loch Resort, Tealsavay, and Hamanavay
From the summit of Beinn fo Tuath a gentle descent was made west into the rocky interior of Scarp. I was leading Clare and Nigel to see the Norse Mills, but I led them astray at one point, and we had to backtrack a bit to find the stream that flows out of Loch a Mhuilinn (Mill Loch). Halfway between the loch and the sea we found the mills, their millstones still in place. For more photos of the Scarp mills see the March 16, 2013 post.

Mill
Next up was a walk down to Mol Mor. Its Gaelic name means big pebbly beach, but it's better known as Treasure Beach, for the occasional treasures that wash ashore. We found no treasure on our walk, just a trove of colorful plastic flotsam.

Mol Mor (AKA Treasure beach)
There was hardly a cloud in the sky as we made our way back to the vllage by walking around the south tip of the island. At one point we made a brief detour up the hillside to take a close look at Carn Choinnich Shaoir (Kenneth's Cairn). A rusting plaque on the cairn reads:

THIS CAIRN WAS BUILT BY
THE REV. DR. KENNETH MACLENNAN  BA. B.D. M.A. PhD
(COINNEACH SAOR) WHEN HE WAS A BOY IN SCARP
BORN IN TARBERT 21ST JUNE 1867
GRADUATE OF McGILL UNIVERSITY, TORONTO
AND WOOLSTER UNIVERSITY, OHIO
MINISTER OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF CANADA
THE UNITED FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
AND THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
MISSIONARY IN HONAN, CHINA 1893-1897
DIED IN TORONTO 11 JUNE 1943
"CUIMHN IS IOMRADH MAITH"

Kenneth's Cairn
I am not sure what 'Cuimhn is Iomradh Maith" means: perhaps 'Remembrance and good account'. If anyone has a better translation please let me know.

We were soon back at the village, and after saying goodbye to Brian and Sheila we boarded the inflatable to return to Hjalmar Bjorge for the night. Unfortunately, the forecast ruled out making a dash out to the Flannans the following morning. It was a disappointment, but one I'm used to. Out of five attempts to get to the Flannans over the years, only one has been successful. On next year's guide-trip we'll make another try.

In the morning we set course to two of my favorite islands in the Sound of Harris: Pabbay and Boreray. My visits to those islands in the past were on shallow draught boats, so the question was whether we'd be able to find a decent anchorage for the 91-ton Hjalmar Bjorge in the shallow water near those islands. Fingers crossed, we set out to take a look.


2 comments:

  1. Nigel and Clare BattersbyJuly 25, 2016 at 5:50 AM

    Hi Marc - we've been enjoying your blog since we first booked for your Hjalmar Bjorge cruise and even more so, now you're posting on the trip ! Excellent photographs and lots of interesting detail to fill in our 'gaps' of a great 10 days - also, definitive proof of how good the weather can be in the outer Hebrides !

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    1. Nigel & Clare, I enjoyed travelling with you two, and hope to do so again someday. And yes, we were certainly blessed with some wonderful weather.

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