Having woken to find the big ferry departed for the mainland, I checked the status of our smaller transport for the short 40 minute hop between islands. It still showed a warning of possible disruption due to the (still) strong winds, but we checked out of the hotel (they assured us there were plenty of rooms available if we had to return) and set off for Barra’s smaller ferry terminal.
On arrival, the status board showed next sailing as the lunchtime ferry, not the morning sailing we were booked for, so we hung around a bit, with nothing else to do – we’d seen the entire island of Barra the previous day.
And thank goodness we did, because with about a half hour to go before the scheduled time, the board updated to show the original ferry as due on time. Lesson learned – never trust status boards!
I did discover this gorgeous, huge sculpture outside the miniscule terminal building (a room big enough to seat about a dozen people, plus one toilet) – and as otters were on our ‘to see’ list for the holiday, I thought I’d better snap this, just in case we missed out on the live version.
So the ferry duly arrived
on we went
and away! Still windy, as you can hear.
These ferries don’t hand around
Next stop, the truly tiny island of Eriskay
Eriskay is famous for two things – it’s native pony breed, the Eriskay pony, the most endangered pony breed in Europe (considering the size of the island – 1.5 x 2.5 miles – I’m astonished it even has the grazing to support a herd of wild ponies, let alone a discrete breed), and being the site of a famous ship wreck – more on that in a moment.
We drove the mile from the ferry port to the only town on the island, and stopped at the multi-purpose shop for coffee. To my delight, I discovered these behind the shop
Clearly they are quite comfortable living with humans, despite being wild ponies
And the significance of this pub? Remember that shipwreck I mentioned?
Have you come across the iconic film, ‘Whisky Galore!’?
Based on the book (1947) by Compton Mackenzie, the first film was an Ealing Comedy, made in 1949, a truly hilarious adaptation of the book, which is based on a real life historical event that happened right here, on Eriskay.
In 1941, the SS Politician ran aground on the coast of Eriskay. Her cargo included 28,000 cases of malt whisky. The islanders set about ‘rescuing’ this bounty, much to the dismay and increasingly desperate efforts of the local excise officer to halt their salvage operations, leading to increasingly ingenious methods of hiding the booty.
If you haven’t seen the film, you are missing a treat, so go, find it! Or even the recent (2016), equally as funny remake.
Anyway, that’s Eriskay. From the ferry to the recently (2001) installed causeway leading to the next island, South Uist, takes all of five minutes if you don’t stop. In fact, our next Guest House was three more islands up the chain – South Uist, Benbecula, then onto North Uist – which, according to our hostess, would take all of an hour and a half, “depending how many sheep there are on the road”!!!
So off we went…