Photos © Annette Flottwell
or what to see on the Outer Hebrides during three foggy days
Early in July I had seen enough rain and fog in Caithness and Sutherland. It seemed a good idea to sail to the Outer Hebrides for a change, as the strong westerly winds are supposed to blow away the fog. I couldn't have been more wrong. The day I arrived, it was simply changing between drizzle and downpour. The next day was wet and very foggy, making a GPS indispensable. The double Island of Harris and Lewis has mountain ranges in Harris and gentle hills in North Lewis, both consisting of rock, water and peat. Water seems to be the main ingredient of the 680 sq. miles of Lewis
The black particles between the wet patches can't be avoided and cover all firm ground you might try to step or drive on. They are produced by the famous Harris sheep. On the right you see guessing our way on a peat road.
So what is there to see in Lewis? It is impressing how friendly and helpful the locals are. They go out of their way to help you find a remote lighthouse in the fog, a bar meal or a safe place to park your Landrover overnight. And you can't help admiring how they have been making a living in this harsh environment. 80 years ago, they still walked barefoot to their shielings in the bog!
So what do they use in Lewis today?
Leaving Stornoway, the capital of Lewis, this well - restored 88 made me stop at once. It is registered as a historic like half of the vehicles on Lewis.
What looked first like a concourse car was full of building tools.
On the ferry I had met Wine. I had some trouble to understand his accent, so I asked him whence he had brought his 88 SW with the heavy 5 m trailer. I'm from Kent, he explained, took me 16 hours to Ullapool. I met him again North-west of Stornoway, where he had lost his way. I helped him with my map and he looked again for the house he had bought. Wine is a carpenter and joiner. He was just moving to Lewis to start a new life. They had thought of going to Canada but Lewis was closer. Well he seemed to blend in nicely with his attitude and his vehicle.
I wanted a tax-free working lorry', he explained. His 88 has a reconditioned engine and brand new chassis and bulkhead. "She's like new,' he stated"but cheaper and more fun.' When he had discovered his new home had no roof, was obviously burnt out and thus spent an uncomfortable night in the 88, he said he must get a 109 and give this one to his wife. ' You must me a bit more comfortable in yours!' I thought he had risked a lot, buying a house like that, but when I saw how he would cope with everything I was sure he had a chance to make it. Good luck Wine!
In the distance I had seen a couple of Landrovers, somewhere on the peat tracks.
In Cros ,in the parish of Nis, the northernmost part of Lewis, this was the first one I saw next to the main road. I had to to look closer, because I didn't want to miss another Series vehicle. I was a bit shy to walk in the yard. A lady came out at once and asked what I was looking for. Shyly I admitted being after their LandRover. 'Oh this is my brothers peat truck' she said. "He's had it for thirty years now.'
It was some trouble to decline a cup of tea with her brother as I didn't want to exploit their generousity.
Oh yes, it is still in everyday use.
Soon after, I knew they're omnipresent in North Lewis. This one is in a building site, also in Nis.
Driving back from the Butt of Lewis, I had given up on the idea yo do some landscape photography on Lewis. But there was enough to see.
In Siadar, there were hardly any other vehicles. The blue / white 88 was another peat truck and had suffered a bit. The red one was again a trustworthy builder's truck.
It is amazing how the locals trust you if you drive a Landrover. When I asked the mailman for directions, he looked at the vehicle and pointed out:
'It's a peat road and a steep one. But you'll be all right, driving a LandRover. If anybody asks a question, tell 'em I've sent you.'
Close to the Bragar school, there was another spotless station wagon. By now it was pouring, hardly enough light left to take any decent pictures.
You don't really want to try to sneek behind a farmhouse with a big lens and a large flash. Still I was stunned by the sheer number of perfectly working SIIIs there. Can anyone tell me how it comes that they are less rusty than my 1982 Stage One??
So I had to stop for something special:
Here is a Lewis Lightweight. Don't remember where it was. Maybe close to Arnol
After all, it was a good idea I took all these pictures on the first day. The next day was too foggy to see the front of you Landrover standing next to the rear door.
To Be Continued with your help! Send your stories and pictures