A rare chance to fly up over the Western Isles from Uist – Lewis. The weather wasn’t the best, and nor are my photos, but seeing the islands from the air emphasises just how watery and knobbly they are.
If you happen to find yourself in Barra on your birthday, as I did recently, I recommend a trip to Kisimul Castle. The plan was originally to climb Rueval, but the rain came in, as did the mist. So, to Kisimul we went instead.
I was surprised by how little interpretation there was throughout the castle. Historic Scotland are not known for their lack of information panels – often quite the reverse. It’s nice being able to visit an historic site and to discover details in your own time, but equally having almost nothing to tell you about the place seems a bit sparse.
It’s a great wee castle. It’s currently being looked after by Historic Scotland, though belongs to the MacNeil family. It is, and was, the seat of the clan MacNeil and still holds a draw for MacNeils around the world. I don’t place much importance on what little remains of the clan system today but it’s easy to see why people would want to travel a distance to visit here.
There’s fantastic history to see at Kisimul, even more enticing by the fact that the early records were lost in a fire, so we know relatively little today. This is despite the castle’s stature and important place within the Medieval period.
If you’re in need of scran when you’re in Castlebay, Cafe Kisimul is delicious. Even better if you’re not paying. Hooray! http://www.cafekisimul.co.uk
The 50mph gale currently blowing and heavy rain over the past two days is trying to hide the fact that, despite Mother Nature’s best efforts otherwise, Spring has sprung on Uist. There are daffodils (bent over in the wind), lambs (cowering in whatever shelter they can find) and all the birdsong you could hope to hear.
I was excited to hear snipe calling last week. I’ve never, to my knowledge, seen one but it was a thrill to hear, especially as the drumming was echoing against the buildings near by. They’ve a few names in Gaelic, like so many things. The name I know for them is one of my favourite Gaelic bird names: gobhar-adhair. Pronounced in English like go-er ah-er (yes, most of the consonants are silent), the literal translation is ‘sky goat’. Never let it be said that the Gaels don’t have a sense of humour.