Wrangling with tent poles within the savage coastal winds of the Outer Hebrides wasn’t how I pictured my first wild tenting journey. My good friend Helen and I believed we had been so intelligent tenting on a raised grassy verge on the seaside (consider the photographs!) however as quickly as we began establishing, the storm started.
It was all good enjoyable although, laughing with Helen as we grappled with the man ropes trying to peg them down. Cackling at our failure to arrange or keep one step forward of the climate scenario. At that time we had no concept of the sleepless evening forward of us and swiftly completed placing up the tent. We had been each keen to go again into Barra island’s major village of Castlebay for an Indian meal at Kisimul Restaurant, by the fort, to heat us up.
The final time we might be heat for at the least 12 hours it turned out.
We spent that evening contained in the two-metre excessive tent – far too excessive for wild tenting in a Scottish storm – desperately making an attempt to get heat in our separate pods. The fly sheet of the ‘swiftly’ erected tent was now flapping the place we hadn’t pegged it, neither of us had put the highest on so it was leaking, and what tent pegs there have been, had been slowly being ripped from the mushy floor by the coastal gale.
Have you ever ever laid awake at evening debating the chance of being blown away by gale power winds?
At one level in the midst of the evening I bought as much as attempt to repair the tent pegs in higher than they had been, to cease the flapping. I simply appeared in despair on the tent, we’d finished a horrible job.
The 2 us had been unable to sleep, deliriously laughing on the state of our actuality compared to what we’d imagined.
There was no different selection than to simply wait, and attempt to sleep. Our tent erecting efforts had been no match for the winds of the Western Isles of Scotland.
Visiting the Outer Hebrides
We’d come to the Outer Hebrides in between lockdowns in September, in determined search of journey. After being caught at house for months and summer season nearly coming to an finish, my good friend and I wanted to get out and do one thing new. The Outer Hebrides appeared like an awesome reply due to the remoteness, the relative closeness, but the very fact we nonetheless bought to go on a ferry and actually really feel like we had been travelling.
It was all final minute, with me planning our ferries and itinerary only a few days earlier than.
We travelled over from Oban to Castlebay – a four-hour ferry journey recognized to be a bit tough. Simple I believed – I can do this!
Cue two of the 4 hours of me sitting on the decrease deck barely in a position to transfer for worry of being sick. That crossing is not for the faint hearted, or stomached.
From Barra we street tripped north to Eriskay on the Isle of South Uist, and up the size of the island to North Uist to journey the size of that too. From the north of the island, in Berneray, we crossed over to Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris. Right here we drove as much as Stornoway – the capital of Lewis and Harris – and again down once more to Tarbert for our closing evening to get the ferry again throughout to Uig, on Skye, only a bridge away from the mainland. Our Outer Hebrides street journey route was formidable and can be over 350 miles of driving in lower than every week.
We’d deliberate to wild camp as a lot as potential, to maintain it low-cost, however with the storms being so unhealthy even the locals had been speaking about it, wild tenting on the Outer Hebrides proved tougher than we imagined.
Seashores within the Outer Hebrides
It was the photographs of the seashores within the Outer Hebrides I noticed on Instagram that drew me in. White sands, rugged coasts and azure waters… in Scotland!
There are over 100 islands within the Outer Hebrides, solely 15 of them are inhabited, with nearly half 1,000,000 folks. There’s house up right here, and that’s what we’d come for.
Candy, contemporary house.
The opposite major attraction, past the seashores and house, is the truth that wild tenting is authorized in Scotland, not like in England. And with campsites and resorts in England full to capability over the summer season, tenting within the Outer Hebrides appeared like the right socially distanced exercise for 2 adventure-starved journey lovers.
Outer Hebrides street journey
Driving up by way of the Hebrides was wonderful. We crossed from island to island by ferry – the late summer season views and colors had been simply incredible. With a lot shoreline, empty roads and the well-known Outer Hebridean machair (the grassy plains) vibrant in color, it was a stupendous time to be there. The few points of interest there are on the islands had been closed, and so our full consideration was given to the pure magnificence specified by entrance of us.
Highlights of our journey included the seaside airport runway at Barra – the one one on this planet the place scheduled flights use a tidal seaside because the runway. It’s enjoyable to go and watch the aircraft are available, with all the opposite aircraft spotters. Additionally, Traigh a Bhaigh Seashore on Varetsay off Barra was a feast for the eyes – admittedly as a result of it coincided with the most effective climate we had all week.
Our day on Lewis included climbing, exploring the seashores, having fun with the Round Scenic Route (which included the spectacular Reef Seashore), going to see the Callanish Stones, studying in regards to the chess items of Lewis, and having fun with the Outdated Village – a duplicate of how the homes right here was once. Properly, the fast look we had across the exterior, as that too, wasn’t open.
In Harris we spent our day exploring Seilebost Seashore, Luskentyre Seashore, strolling to the Eilean Glas Lighthouse on the Island of Scalpay, procuring in Tarbert, wishing we may go within the Harris Distillery, and usually having a beautiful time with the liberty of our wheels.
Wild tenting on Benbecula
After the failure of that first evening of untamed tenting we tried once more in Cula Bay on Benbecula, South Uist. Once more, on a seaside, once more, on a grassy verge. Will we be taught?
A woman strolling her canine took pity on us. Spherical two of us wrestling with the poles within the coastal wind and for some motive pondering this is able to have a distinct end result. Not so.
She knew we’d fail. She knew earlier than we did.
“If you happen to can’t get that factor up, my home is the one with the blue door down there” – she chirped as she went previous.
So sort, however there was no means Helen and I had been admitting defeat so quickly, and so publicly.
As darkness fell, and all we had round us was wind and the sound of the ocean, and the frustration in ourselves moderately than a tent, Helen slept within the automotive and I purchased my one-man tent out for a really uncomfortable evening of tossing and turning.
We put it all the way down to a studying alternative for each of us.
Lesson in wild tenting
Regardless of the chilly, and the dearth of sleep, and what inevitably resulted in damaged tent poles – waking up on the seashores was so releasing. The enjoyable of ‘sleeping’ the place we selected, moderately than the place we booked and paid was liberating.
It’s straightforward to see how and why wild tenting is so widespread, and addictive.
Wild tenting is the excellent method to preserve your distance from different folks, and to benefit from the solace that comes from tenting exterior wherever you need. We barely noticed a soul throughout our journey within the evenings. Anybody who was ‘wild tenting’ was doing it in a campervan or motorhome they usually weren’t popping out.
Over just a few purple wines sat on the picnic mat that night, with the sound of the ocean lashing within the background, we agreed that this specific journey wasn’t made for wild tenting, and we’d come again once we had been higher geared up.
Tomorrow, we search for a B&B. Someday, we’ll attempt once more.
Recommendation for wild tenting and driving within the Outer Hebrides
Wild tenting in Scotland is completely authorized, however there are guidelines to maintain it enjoyable and open to all. If you happen to’re feeling impressed by my wild tenting journey and wish to give it a go within the Outer Hebrides, make sure that to observe the Scotland wild tenting guidelines to maintain it free and open for all.
The primary guidelines are:
- You received’t keep longer than three nights in a single place.
- You’ll go away the spot how you discover it (or higher!).
- No fires.
- Respect animals, nature and different folks.
Prime ideas for wild tenting
You could be ready for wild tenting within the Outer Hebrides. Let me take you thru just a few classes realized the exhausting means, so that you don’t make the identical errors!
– While you select a spot to camp, search for some type of shelter. At the least from one route. However, don’t camp between two excessive factors because the wind will funnel by way of to you. That contemporary coastal air can grow to be a howling gale in a short time!
– Getting the tent up is one factor, however getting the pegs to remain within the floor is one other. A lot of Scotland is both boggy, or dry – so you might have hassle with the tent pegs. I’d suggest getting some storm pegs for further resilience.
– Don’t camp subsequent to a stream, or any physique of water, as little brooks can simply flip into torrents. You do NOT wish to get up to a river in your tent.
– Don’t transfer rocks or dig ditches to make your tenting spot higher. That’s not how wild tenting in Scotland works. And don’t camp close to folks’s houses, or inside view from their home – they received’t prefer it.
– My tent was too excessive, too exhausting to place up, and there was an excessive amount of material to deal with within the wind. On the subject of selecting a tent, go small, fundamental and as minimal as potential.
– It doesn’t matter what the time of years, count on the nights to be chilly and pack further heat to your tent and sleeping bag.
– Arrive in good time to your spot, so you’ve the time to select an precise spot earlier than dusk.
Prime ideas for driving
– Don’t fear in regards to the islands’ street situations. The roads had been amazingly effectively saved and different motorists had been very courteous – we didn’t have an issue.
– You could adhere to the rule of passing locations and pull over if the passing place is in your facet of the street.
– Let different drivers move, as they could be on their method to work when you’re chugging alongside admiring the view.
– Preserve your petrol topped up because it could possibly be a while between stops.
– Obtain your maps to your cellphone earlier than you begin as you may not have cellphone reception to your journey. Any cafe or restaurant we requested was joyful to provide out their Wi-Fi code with a purchase order so we had been okay.
– Spend some cash regionally moderately than taking your individual meals or utilizing supermarkets. Strive the fish marketplace for lunch in Oban, choose up some treats from the group store in Harris, attempt the Hebridean Toffee and eat out to style the native delicacies. It’s tempting to be 100% ready, nevertheless it’s enjoyable to pattern native produce and actually helps the native communities too.
Packing listing to your journey
A light-weight tent that’s tremendous straightforward to pitch, and light-weight.
Take a superb high quality all season sleeping bag, and an insulated mat too. Perhaps some type of pillow? As much as you whether or not you could be bothered to hold it or not.
You want a method to get water. I used to be wonderful with two bottles saved crammed and saved within the automotive however you will get water remedy tablets from Boots simply sufficient.
Tenting range, with a gasoline cartridge.
Take a cellphone energy financial institution, and the midge repellant.
You may wish to deliver a First Support Package, a restore package for the tent, and a few hand sanitising gel too. Be sure your toiletries are all biodegradable.
Some type of picnic mat to take a seat out at evening. If you happen to’re in little climbing tents there’s no house to take a seat up.