Our Travels: Isle of Harris, Scotland

Here at World Words, we’re hugely passionate about travelling – and, of course, writing about it. That’s why we do what we do. It also means that members of the team are forever travelling the world, whether on a city break or a beach holiday, a rainforest hike or a yoga retreat. To highlight and celebrate some of our favourite recently-visited destinations around the world, we have started a brand new semi-regular blog series. And we call it… Our Travels.

Kicking us off with a destination that is, bewilderingly, rarely visited by locals or foreign visitors, staff content writer Nathanael tells us all about his recent visit to the Isle of Harris, a wild and remote island off the coast of Scotland.

St Kilda

Nathanael and his friend James by the highest point in St. Kilda

Why I went to the Isle of Harris
Famed for being difficult to get to and largely devoid of people, the Western Isles are not everyone’s idea of an appealing holiday destination. However, that remoteness is exactly why my friend James and I booked a tiny cottage on the Isle of Harris. We arrived with our hiking boots already on, ready for days of tourist-free trekking.

My highlight of the trip
Daily boats leave from Harris to the even more remote archipelago of St. Kilda, which we couldn’t resist visiting. This tiny group of islands is a double-UNESCO site, recognised for both its natural and historical value. Hardy Scots lived here until 1930, surviving on the fulmars they caught while climbing the cliffs at night. James, an avid birdwatcher since his youth, was in his element hiking along the cliffs among the numerous puffins, skuas and gannets that live there, while I relished learning about the history of the island’s inhabitants in the ruined village.

What else I love about Harris
While we were anticipating amazing hiking routes, I didn’t expect to be greeted with the kind of beaches I usually describe when writing about the Caribbean. I’ll never forget sunbathing and swimming on impossibly picturesque Luskentyre Beach, where I got my most surprising sunburn of the year.

Traditions are firmly and proudly held on Harris, a place where Gaelic is still spoken among friends and on all the road signs. Religion still plays an important role in the Western Isles – church is the only place open on Sundays. Both in church and for the rest of the week, we were greeted by warm and friendly locals at every turn.

The sand and sea of Luskentyre Beach

The sand and sea of Luskentyre Beach

Why you should go
Harris combines a spectacular coastline, wilderness walking trails and the chance to see everything from eagles to otters to dolphins, all within one compact destination. Even when it rains – and it will rain – the atmosphere of Harris still casts its spell over you. There’s a distillery, museums and several tweed workshops for those essential indoor activities, or you can simply drive around traffic-free roads and gape in awe at dramatic, untamed scenery around every bend. Having finally visited after many years of planning, I can’t wait for a chance to return.

How you can visit
It isn’t easy. but it’s worth it. Catch a flight to the Isle of Lewis (you can fly from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen) and then drive down to Harris, or go from mainland Scotland to the Isle of Skye then take a ferry across to Harris.

The World Worlds team love Scotland, and you can read some of our previous travel articles about the country here. Want to hear more about our travels and our travel content writing? Then come and say hello on Twitter.

– Article written and photos supplied by Nathanael Smith.

4 thoughts on “Our Travels: Isle of Harris, Scotland

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