Western isles dating
At last, my route tumbles out above vast Loch Tarbert, a sea loch that leads into the ferry port of the same name.I meet up with Chris Ryan, a local walking guide who runs Hebridean Holidays and who is palpably excited that the route is becoming a reality.Johanne says she is ‘99.9% certain’ that all bridges will be in place by next spring, but – mindful of the truly foul Hebridean winters that can delay or undo outdoor labour – she asks walkers check before setting off.The route's developers have put a lot of thought into making those paths resilient to walkers and, more to the point, the weather.You can easily feel quite lonely, quite quickly, in the Outer Hebrides. I've walked for barely 15 minutes from Leverburgh, landfall for ferries on the southern coast of Harris, and already I'm on an isolated moorland path, cutting across deep peat.The path is visible ahead, weaving and contouring through a valley to the skyline, and the sight of seeing exactly where I will walk for the next hour is both enticing and exhilarating.To the south are the sands of Northton, a township also known by its Gaelic name of Taobh Tuath.
At its heart rise the siren-like peaks of the North Harris Hills, standing like watchmen over much of the walk.
I'm embarking on a slice of the Hebridean Way, Scotland's newest long-distance footpath.
From the remote Bagh a Deas, or South Bay on Vatersay, this magical route nudges its way north through the Outer Hebrides, a chain of islands with fantastically resonant names: Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, South and North Harris and Lewis.
Along the way, walkers can confidently expect to encounter red deer, golden and sea eagles and enjoy world-beating beaches in complete solitude.
The trail scuttles across sea-level causeways and two delectable ferry journeys.