Off to the Outer Hebrides (in the rain)! The morning started out bright and sunny and I was up with the birds. (Fact: no matter how late I stay up at night, my body is programmed to wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 AM…) I decided to get ready and take a walk around Portree before breakfast. I stuck with the cold breakfast buffet because none of the hot options appealed to me. Haddock, salmon, kipper, haggis (Google it!)… not very appealing for breakfast!
I had to be at the Uig ferry pier at 8:45 for the 9:30 ferry to Lochmaddy on North Uist. North Uist is part of a chain of 6 small islands connected by causeways in the southern part of the Outer Hebrides. It is also very flat and dotted with inland lochs. All of the islands are known for their gorgeous white sand beaches on the west coasts. The ferry crossing takes about 1 hr 45 min and by the time the ferry docked in Lochmaddy, the weather had turned to rain. I stopped briefly at the tourist information office and then set off to explore. Outside the office was a small van with a fishmonger set up. The back doors were open and customers could just walk up and select their fish. The gentleman said he is there every Wednesday. Add “mobile fish market” to the list of Scotland firsts!
Anyway, so there I was in the pouring rain in Lochmaddy. I decided to make the best of it and set off in the direction of the Isle of Berneray, connected by a causeway on the northern end of North Uist, and the Lobster Pot Tearoom. The water here is every bit as beautiful as the pictures I had seen. A clear, turquoise blue, with white sand beaches and dunes covered in machair. Just not very photogenic in the rain! For lunch, I ate a ham and cheese toastie and tried my first glass of diet Irn Bru (a soda that can’t really be described, but is kind of like orange soda crossed with ginger ale). The waitress walked away from the table laughing because I couldn’t even pronounce it and told me if I really hated it, she would bring me something else. But I didn’t hate it and the toastie was loaded with Scottish cheddar and also delicious.
After lunch, I spent a little time exploring the rest of Berneray and then continued the circular route around North Uist. I stopped a couple of times to take pictures, but otherwise just drove and looked at the scenery through the rain. I wasn’t very motivated to deal with the wind and rain today. Around 3PM, I decided to just call it a day and head to the Hamersay House Hotel in Lochmaddy. I checked in, got settled, and took a nap. I was hoping the weather would clear, but that doesn’t look likely at this point. A dinner of fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding (and a pint of cider, of course!) in the hotel restaurant capped off the day.
(Side note: today is the first day I’ve actually found myself missing home. It’s not that I want to GO home necessarily, just that I miss home. A day off from vacation to sit by the pool, eat my own food, drive my own car on “regular” roads, etc. seems kind of appealing to me today.)