Being an island, Harris has no shortage of options for amazing boat trips. We are offering several trips to give you the chance to visit some of Harris' most remote corners and uninhabited islands.
West Loch Tarbert to Scarp and Loch Reasort This full day tour will take you into the heart of the beautiful, remote area of North Harris. Some of the most gorgeous beaches that the island has to offer can be found here, as well as the remains of crofting villages and rarely seen views of the islands in the West Loch and a chance to land at the characterful island of Scarp, famous for the ill-fated ‘Rocket Post’.
We depart the pier at West Loch Tarbert, calling in to Bagh Stithcleit where the remains of a village can be seen right at the shoreline, with evidence of cultivation in the background.
We then make my way out of the loch past Sodhaigh Mhor and Sodhaigh Bheag Great and Little Soay, then take a short detour into Loch Leosabhaigh towards the imposing Amhuinnsuidhe Castle. Amhuinnsuidhe translates from Gaelic as ‘sitting on the river’ and this is certainly a highly appropriate name for the castle which was built as a salmon fishing and hunting lodge for the Earl of Dunmore in 1867. It is a superb example of Scottish Baronial architecture and has visitors from allover the world.
The tour continues past Govig, Bedersaig and Hushinish,crofting townships which are ordinarily reached by a winding road with numerous hairpin bends! There is a perfect arc of golden sand at Hushinish which makes an idyllic setting for the small row of houses making up the village.
We pass Rubha Husinis Hushinish Point and to our left is the island of Scarp. Going through the Sound of Scarp we pass the sparkling sands of TraighMheilein which is a breathtaking sight from the sea.
Carrying on into Loch Reasort we pass the impressive mountains of Taran Mor, Taran Meadhain and Taran Beag. Loch Reasort is seven miles long and there are wonderful opportunities for spotting sea eagles, golden eagles and, of course, many red deer.
During our trip we will stop ashore for lunch, which will be, depending on tides, either at one of the no longer inhabited villages of Diorascal or Luachair, or at our next destination - the Island of Scarp. Scarp was inhabited by a fairly large community until 1971 when the last residents left and was sustained by crofting and fishing.
Scarp was the site of an experiment by German inventor Gerhard Zucker to deliver the island's post by rocket. In July 1934 Zucker made two attempts at firing rocket mail between Scarp and Harris, both of which were unsuccessful. A feature film was made about the experiment in 2001.
There is a particularly pretty, miniature-gem of a beach at the north of Scarp which we will visit before our return journey to West Loch Tarbert.
Dates; 17/8/2018 Time; 09:00 Location; West Loch Tarbert Cost; £110 Recommended equipment; Warm clothes, food and drink
The Flannan Isles The run to the Flannan Isles will take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes and on the way we take in some of the most remote and beautiful scenery that the island has to offer. On arrival at the islands we will assess the landing and, all being well will go ashore for three hours to allow you to explore the island, walk to the Flannan Isles Light and observe some of the abundant wildlife. The return journey will pass through the Sound of Scarp and should make for a memorable end to a fascinating day.
The Geography - This small group of islands lie about 20 miles west of the Isle of Lewis and are split into three groups: the main cluster of rocks that lie to the northeast include the two principal islands of Eilean Mòr (Big Isle), which is approximately 17.5 hectares (43 acres) and Eilean Taighe (House Isle); to the south lie Soray (Eastward Isle) and Sgeir Tomain; while the main western outcrops are Eilean a' Gobha (Isle of the Blacksmith), Roaireim(which has a natural rock arch), and Bròna Cleit (Sad Sunk Rock). The total land area amounts to approximately 50 hectares (120 acres) and the highest point is 88 metres (289 ft) above sea level on Eilean Mòr.
The Wildlife - The isles provide nesting for gannets, Atlantic puffins, northern fulmars, European storm petrels, Leach’s Petrels, common shag, and black legged kittiwakes. At one time men from Lewis came to collect eggs, birds, and feathers from the nests. There is a population of rabbits, brought to the islands by the lighthouse keepers, and crofters from Bernera graze sheep on the most fertile islands. Minke and pilot whales, as well as Risso's and other species of dolphin are seen in the area.
The History - The archipelago is also known as The Seven Hunters. Martin Martin (1703) lists a number of unusual customs associated with regular pilgrimages to Eilean Mòr, such as removing one's hat and making a sunwise turn when reaching the plateau - this will not be compulsory on your trip, however! It is possible that the saint or his acolytes lived on Eilean Mòr and perhaps, on Eilean Taighe as well. It is unlikely, however, that there were permanent residents on the islands once the Celtic Church fell into decline in the Hebrides (as a result of ninth century Viking invasions), until the construction of the lighthouse. Flannan Isles Lighthouse was built near the highest point on Eilean Mòr between 1895 and 1899. In 1900, its three keepers disappeared without trace, causing much public attention and speculation. The lighthouse is no longer occupied after it was automated in 1971.
What do I need to take? Food and drink for the day, although fresh coffee, tea and homemaking will be provided. Warm clothing and waterproofs. We have plenty of storage on the vessel if you wish to leave some of your layers when you go ashore. Footwear suitable for the landing and for walking around the island. If you have any queries, please contact us at www.isleofharrisseatours.co.uk or call 01859 502060
Itinerary - Depart West Loch Tarbert at 9.30 am. Note that we transfer to the boat from a dinghy so a reasonable level of mobility is required. Landing at the Flannan Isles is challenging so will be at the Skipper’s discretion on the day of the trip.
Dates; 15th or 16th/8/2018 Time; 9.30 Location; West Loch Tarbert Cost; £130 adults, £95 14 and under Recommended equipment; Warm clothes, food and drink