Halcyon in the Hebrides by Bob Orrell

By Bob Orrell

A different shuttle e-book and an invaluable crusing advisor to the Western Isles and anchorages within the Hebrides

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Seen from the sea, the points where Benbecula starts and ends are lost in a labyrinth of smaller islands that hide delightful anchorages; but, though I was tempted to linger, my thoughts were on reaching St Kilda and, conscious of the approaching low-pressure system I left Loch Carnan, bound for Loch Maddy in North Uist where I wanted to visit the nearby island of Berneray. Just as the morning forecaster on Radio Scotland said it would, a chilly southwesterly breeze sprang up, and for the first time in weeks I was able to hoist all sails, but it was slow progress.

Pushing the engine control forward, he steered the boat out of the bay at full speed. We never saw Archie again, and, looking across to the rocks at the foot of the castle as Halcyon went by, I wondered if one of them might have been his petrified body! Rounding the south cardinal buoy marking the entrance to Castle Bay, I set a course for the island of Eriskay, ten miles to the north. 24 5 Whisky Galore – Loch Eynort – Scotland’s heroine B arra had basked in glory when Whisky Galore was filmed in Castlebay, but it was actually in the Sound of Eriskay that, on 5 February 1941, the SS Politician, loaded with a mixed cargo which included over 260,000 bottles of whisky bound for the United States, struck a rock and was wedged on it for several hours before it slid into deep water.

Castlebay’s steep main street, running down to the harbour, featured prominently in the film and it aroused worldwide interest in the relatively little-known island. A very enthusiastic and helpful man in charge of the island’s heritage centre told me proudly that Barra had become renowned as a centre for the promotion of Celtic music and the Gaelic language, and he told me an intriguing legend about how a ruthless princess won her man. On Barra there once lived a band of fourteen heroes called the Feinn, and their chief was Fionn.

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