Langass Woods

DSC00057Uist is not well known for its arboreal landscape. The ever-present wind and salty air straight off the sea make for a climate ill-fitted to trees. Instead, peat and sand dominate. I never consider myself to be a ‘tree’ person, but it’s only on walking around this small area of forest at Langass that I realised just how much I’ve missed them in the months living on Uist. DSC00069DSC00063The distinctive smell of pine, the mosses and lichens abounding on the forest floor and that glorious rustling of branches as the wind blows through them. Yes – I enjoyed being back in a wood very much.

DSC00070DSC00067DSC00065 - CopyThis area of forestry was first planted in the late 1960s, using species known to thrive in similar climates in North America. Since then, it’s been developed further, been taken into community ownership and has seen numbers of small birds previously uncommon on North Uist increase in this area.
stamps at LangaisArtists and community groups have worked to develop a trail of stamps to collect along the path through the trees, each bilingual and creating poetry as you collect them. It’s a lovely touch – especially with an important stamp celebrating perhaps Uist’s most famous ever resident, a fine statue of whom stands at the end of the trail.
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www.langasswoods.co.uk

2014

S Uist

Gently emerging from a Winter slumber. Yesterday marked the old New Year. It’s said in Gaelic that from then, each day lengthen’s by a cockerel’s step. “An-diugh, bithidh ceum coilich air an latha”.

Lochmaddy Baile Sear Causeway Baile Sear

Bliadhna mhath ur dhuibh uile. Happy new year, folks.

Uist Placenames

Kirkibost

Looking at any maps for this area gives an immediate indicator of the island’s past – placenames are littered with Norse words, as well as the expected Gaelic . This Norse influence takes a bit of getting used to but is good fun for a bit of decyphering.

Take a walk I did last weekend, for instance. I headed down to Caolas Paible. From there, I walked onto the beach Oitir Mòr. When I was on the beach, I looked directly out onto Eilean Chirceabost. I love this collection of names together. It shows so clearly the varied past of the islands, Gaidhealach and Viking visitors and settlers over thousands of years leaving their mark.

end of kirkibost

Caolas Paible :   Kyles Paible

I found a great story in Dwelly about Paible. Who knows what element of truth there is in it, but it’s good fun all the same:

“Baile fada-gu-latha, the township of the long night (lit. the long-till-day township). The reference is to Paible, N. Uist. Long ago a stranger, happening to spend a night in the place, some mischievous lads covered up his bedroom window from the outside, with the result that the night was lengthened by many hours. Several times the astonished stranger was heard to mutter “b’ e seo am baile fada-gu-latha!” what a long-till-day township!”

Oitir Mòr:            Oitir (pron. ‘aw-chir’) – sand bank              Mòr (more)– big, large

Eilean Kirkibost: Eilean (ellen)– Island   Kirk – church      Bost – farm

Placenames aside, even in grey, overcast weather it’s beautiful.

other end of kirkibost