Off the north west coast of mainland Scotland, the arc of islands known as the Western Isles or the Outer Hebrides stretch 130 miles from the Butt of Lewis to Barra Head. Here, the culture is gaeldom and the language, Gaelic. English, although spoken by everybody, nowadays, is still not the norm. But that is where the similarity finishes because the Western Isles offers a complete spectrum of peoples and landscape.
Lewis and Harris form the northernmost island. Lewis is flat, boggy and treeless with communities mainly scattered around the coastal fringes. Strornoway, the administrative centre of the Western Isles is a busy fishing port and the heart of the Harris Tweed Industry.
Harris, on the other hand, is mountainous with some of the oldest rocks known to man. It also has some fantastic beaches like Luskentyre, stretching out into the Atlantic rollers.
The middle set of islands is made up of North and South Uist with Benbecula sandwiched in between. All linked by causeways, these are rich lands for the ornithologist. At the foot of the range lies the Isle of Barra immotalised in Compton Mackenzie’s “Whisky Galore”. That film, unfortunately, is in black and white and Barra must be seen in full colour. (205)
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