Saturday 11th September
It rained continuously all night and the pop-top tent is saturated on two sides. By morning light however, it thankfully stopped. We wipe off all the excess water on the outside of the tent and put the Eberspacher heater on to dry it off.
In the morning, we start chatting to a chap called Marti who is here with his family in the next campervan across which is a huge Rapido motorhome. We learn that he runs a surfing school but he’s here currently giving advice to a film crew who are in the vicinity making a new surfing film called ‘Silent Roar’. He tells us it’s produced by Chris Young, who produced ‘The Inbetweeners’ movie.
Marti has also been involved in the making of ‘Ride The Wave’, which is an observational feature length documentary about his son Ben, a 12 year old Scottish surfing champion, who has travelled the world in competitions. He told us his son decided to ride one of the biggest cold water waves in the world. The documentary follows Ben and his family over a 3 year period, filmed on location in Scotland, Japan, Portugal, Lanzarote and Ireland. The film also won an Edinburgh International Film Festival Works in Progress award!
After our fascinating chat with Marti, we take a walk onto the beach which is flanked by sand dunes. You can tell that the sea is slowly eroding into the campsite by the dangling fence posts that have no soil underneath them.
After a bacon and egg teacake and homemade sponge cake from a nearby butty van, we set off in the direction of Harris, which is the southern part of Lewis. We were able to book onto a spot on a campsite last minute thanks to a cancellation.
Our journey is quite a long one and the landscape becomes more mountainous with splendid views around nearly every corner.
We pass a typical, ageing island house with a man standing outside and decide to stop for a photo. He’s lived and worked on the island all his life and you can imagine what a tough life that must have been. No plush air-conditioned offices or computers. Plus, if you had no transportation, then you had to make a living in the remote spot you inhabited. He now lived with just his two sheep dogs for company and in a house that still needed maintenance from the hostile environment of salt sea air, wind and rain.
You can now understand how these dwellings became abandoned. If there are no siblings nearby to carry on living there (and many islanders now work in Stornoway), then eventually they become empty and the forces of nature just take over. However even in these neglected states, these buildings are intriguing and have an allure to be photographed and documented. After all, this is a part of the circle of Hebridean life.
However since the 1970s, there has been much improved infrastructure including new schools, community centres and new-build housing on the Outer Hebrides. Mobile phone masts and Wi-Fi covers the islands and the roads are much better than in the past. In some locations, where roads have been made into two-way traffic, you can still see the original single track road running alongside or it may have been adapted into a long, side lay-by.
Later that day, we arrive at the charming Lickisto Blackhouse Campsite, which is situated next to Loch Stocanais on Harris.