Talk to me about Harris/Lewis

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Ranger Smith
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Steve
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Some nice coastal spots (fancy trying my hand at something a bit different this Autumn) up there but cannot find anything remotely reasonable cost wise to stay in?

Anyone one to shed some light on the outer isle's for a newbie.

Is October even a sensible time to go - my gut is probably March with the spring tides flattering the coastal shots more. And really - is there a hotel/B&B that isn't a dump that costs under £100/night. Requirements for accommodation - parking and no dogs. Not bothered in the slightest about the food.
 
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Peter
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There isn't a lot of hotels on the Island. Harris has two both of which are in Tarbert.
Stornaway is a bit too far North if you are interested in photographing the Harris beaches, I've not stayed in Stornaway so couldn't tell you what the hotels there are like. Lewis is different to Harris from a photography perspective. On both Harris and Lewis there is quite a lot of self catering accommodation if you don't fancy the hotel prices. You may find they are expensive too.
 
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Bob
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We went last year and stayed in Stornoway. We had a cabin in someone's garden through airbnb.
We had a great time, and I'm desperate to go back. We didn't have any issues travelling from Lewis to Harris, and did it several times.
We got up early most days, and were out until late. We went in May.
We stayed here....£70 a night self catering.
 
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Mike
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Harris And Lewis - my 2 Grandsons.
Sadly, Harris only lived a week.
Lewis, well actually Callan Lewis, was born on the 3rd August this year.

Once we pack in work in a year or two, we are planning to visit the Islands.
Looks amazing with their pristine beaches etc.
We had a guest speaker at our Camera Club last night that spends a good chunk of her year on Harris & Lewis and her images were amazing!!
Go for it Steve.
I'm sure you won't regret it ;)
 
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Ken
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Go to N Uist instead!
Less busy!!!
I was amazed at how good the beaches were - far superior to the beaches on Lewis and Harris.
We stayed in an Airbnb, in a restored black house at Loch Hosta, about a 5 min walk from Hosta beach.
The beaches up at the Udal peninsula are superb - white sand and 3 miles long and empty.
 
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Ranger Smith
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Steve
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We went last year and stayed in Stornoway. We had a cabin in someone's garden through airbnb.
We had a great time, and I'm desperate to go back. We didn't have any issues travelling from Lewis to Harris, and did it several times.
We got up early most days, and were out until late. We went in May.
We stayed here....£70 a night self catering.
Its the same island and this looks much more on point.
 
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Ranger Smith
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Steve
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Go to N Uist instead!
Less busy!!!
I was amazed at how good the beaches were - far superior to the beaches on Lewis and Harris.
We stayed in an Airbnb, in a restored black house at Loch Hosta, about a 5 min walk from Hosta beach.
The beaches up at the Udal peninsula are superb - white sand and 3 miles long and empty.
Duly noted.
 
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John
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Steve - my visits were over 10 years ago - so treat this with caution. We used our campervan mostly, but took self-catering cottages in Tarbert (of the many - the one between Harris and Lewis) and near Lochboisdale in South Uist. they were very reasonably priced (then). I'd echo the point above about South Uist; also Beinn Mhor is a lovely hill. My favourite place was the ridge on Lewis over Laival a Tuath and Mealieval - low hills but rough rocky and very beautiful with stunning sea views. Have you considered, not the Outer Hebrides, but the Small Isles? Eigg has cheap accommodation and some fantastic beaches (eg the Bay of Laig). You can only go on the ferry as a foot passenger, leaving your car in Mallaig, but there is a taxi on Eigg.
 
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Ranger Smith
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Steve
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Steve - my visits were over 10 years ago - so treat this with caution. We used our campervan mostly, but took self-catering cottages in Tarbert (of the many - the one between Harris and Lewis) and near Lochboisdale in South Uist. they were very reasonably priced (then). I'd echo the point above about South Uist; also Beinn Mhor is a lovely hill. My favourite place was the ridge on Lewis over Laival a Tuath and Mealieval - low hills but rough rocky and very beautiful with stunning sea views. Have you considered, not the Outer Hebrides, but the Small Isles? Eigg has cheap accommodation and some fantastic beaches (eg the Bay of Laig). You can only go on the ferry as a foot passenger, leaving your car in Mallaig, but there is a taxi on Eigg.
Bay of Laig looks amazing and exactly the sort of thing I am after -but with covid not for now. They've placed a lot of restrictions on going.
 
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Two very different parts of the same landmass.
If you do go, and you pay what you might think is a lot for accommodation, please consider that you are putting money into the local economy. It’s an island, with a basic economy, and you can help, like by buying food on the island, rather than driving it over in a car or campervan. That actually helps the local economy.

Remember that Sundays are generally quiet, with most places closed.
 
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Dave
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Go to N Uist instead!
Less busy!!!
I was amazed at how good the beaches were - far superior to the beaches on Lewis and Harris.
We stayed in an Airbnb, in a restored black house at Loch Hosta, about a 5 min walk from Hosta beach.
The beaches up at the Udal peninsula are superb - white sand and 3 miles long and empty.
I wouldn't say the North Uist beaches are better than those on Harris but they are just as good and agree less busy, though busy means something completely different there.

A busy day on a North Uist beach

TI by Dave Marley, on Flickr

Dave
 
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Jeremy Moore
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There are some rather basic but very sociable Gatliffe Trust hostels on the Outer Hebs but I doubt if they'd be quite your cup of tea, Steve......... Try AirBnB as others have suggested.

If you do make it there, try to get to Berneray. It used to be connected to North Uist by ferry only and feklt like a very special place. Now there's a causeway and it feels less special somehow but the beach is fabulous.........
 
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Bob
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I wouldn't say the North Uist beaches are better than those on Harris but they are just as good and agree less busy, though busy means something completely different there.

A busy day on a North Uist beach

TI by Dave Marley, on Flickr

Dave
That beach looks awesome.
I've never been to North Uist, but when we went to Lewis and Harris last May the beaches weren't busy at all.
When we went to Luskentyre there was only one other couple there.
Same with most of the beaches we visited.
As Steve is going off season, and in the midst of a pandemic, I'd be surprised if they're busy.
 
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Lindsay
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It's about 10 years since we last went, but...
The Caberfeidh is very nice. no local feel but a decent standard and excellent restaurant
The Royal was nice, older style hotel and fair standard
The Caladh was a dump in every way

We used to visit my wife's family in Lewis. Sadly she doesn't get on with them any more or I'd be getting an annual feast of photography on the island with marital consent.
 
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Ranger Smith
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Steve
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As Steve is going off season, and in the midst of a pandemic, I'd be surprised if they're busy.
Staycationing has never been more popular. Never seen Loch Lomond, Glencoe and Skye so busy nor even little day trips like the Kelpies (more to follow later) the car parks so full.

Looking at forecasts to go - this week looks mince but maybe the week after - gut says actually March/April. It's not vegetated and it will probably be windier - ideal for seascapes wind - but not my normal photography.

Also scoping out Redpoint in Wester Ross, Sango Sands and Singing Sands in Adrnamurchan for a little personal project.
 
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Ken
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Staycationing has never been more popular. Never seen Loch Lomond, Glencoe and Skye so busy nor even little day trips like the Kelpies (more to follow later) the car parks so full.

Looking at forecasts to go - this week looks mince but maybe the week after - gut says actually March/April. It's not vegetated and it will probably be windier - ideal for seascapes wind - but not my normal photography.

Also scoping out Redpoint in Wester Ross, Sango Sands and Singing Sands in Adrnamurchan for a little personal project.
Lots of wild campers at Sango Sands
A wee snap from the Udal peninsula, just out walking the dog for 7 miles and saw 3 people.
DSC_9349 by Ken Dunton, on Flickr
 
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Unfortunately the loosely worded Access Code has led to the Highlands being heavily accessed by so called "Wild Campers". Most people who think they are Wild Camping are doing nothing of the sort.

It will be interesting to see whether the behaviour continues after the pandemic, and what the Scottish Government's response to that will be if it does.

(edited for typos)
 
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788
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Go to N Uist instead!
Less busy!!!
I was amazed at how good the beaches were - far superior to the beaches on Lewis and Harris.
We stayed in an Airbnb, in a restored black house at Loch Hosta, about a 5 min walk from Hosta beach.
The beaches up at the Udal peninsula are superb - white sand and 3 miles long and empty.
Hmm not sure I agree with this statement about Uist having better beaches, Less people and tourism help not having packed beaches but the beaches on Lewis and Harris aren't exactly packed and you have miles to roam, Scarista beach as one example, Luskentyre is massive too.

In Lewis you have plenty magnificent beaches too, with Garry, Tolsta, Dalmore and Reef.

As for places to stay you'll be hard pressed getting anything for Harris as it books up pretty quickly just now, Also no camper vans are allowed on the island unless they have proof of staying on a campsite. They aren't allowing people to just come and park anywhere which is starting to be a bit of a problem up here at them moment.

Follow the Isle of Harris facebook page if you're on facebook.

Time of the year up here can have all 4 seasons in July but like last week it was great weather up here and hardly anyone going about.

Stornoway is only a 40 minute drive from Tarbert so you can easily stay in Stornoway and drive down to Harris, the roads are pretty quiet but from Tarbert to Luskentyre you'll get a lot of single track roads. Air BnB would be a good bet, the hotels up here are pretty basic but one of the main ones hasn't even re opened this year so could be harder to find a place to stay but deffo go air BnB.
 
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Before you book ANY accommodation you need to check the ferries, limited spaces during these times.
 
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Dave
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Staycationing has never been more popular. Never seen Loch Lomond, Glencoe and Skye so busy nor even little day trips like the Kelpies (more to follow later) the car parks so full.

Looking at forecasts to go - this week looks mince but maybe the week after - gut says actually March/April. It's not vegetated and it will probably be windier - ideal for seascapes wind - but not my normal photography.

Also scoping out Redpoint in Wester Ross, Sango Sands and Singing Sands in Adrnamurchan for a little personal project.
Know what you mean.
I've just come back from Gairloch. I was there for two weeks and was surprised by the number of visitors. I know the area well and there were more people around than I have seen at the same time in other years. The numbers did diminish a bit towards the end of my visit but the weather also took a bit of a turn for the worse.

Dave
 
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Ranger Smith
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Steve
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Was checking this week. Forecast is mince. Total mince.

Ferries. Good availability bar Saturday ones @mikeyb


But aye I'd book a ferry first. I'm no stranger to sleeping in the car worst case. Judging by the prices that's not a bad option.
 
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Yep weather has been pants this weekend and will continue to be so next week.

Also for ferries, yeah book well in advance, you shouldn't have trouble getting on to be fair, it is starting to get quieter this time of year, the spaces aren't limited at the moment, they are cramming everyone on again, but seating on the ferry is limited.

It is a lifeline for islanders who need to get away for hospital appointments and such so can be booked up pretty quickly.
 
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Martin
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I'll offer my opinions, but our styles and ideals differ greatly and are at either end of the scale. Lewis is more rugged and a much nicer coastline to shoot in my opinion with much more scope for exploration, because it suits what I like much more, but the lochs inland can give you exactly what YOU want even in the midst of off season. Harris is beautiful, the beaches exceptional. The Golden Road is a MUST do on Harris. Accommodation I just book through AirB&B, self catering for a week isn't usually too bad, although I've not checked this year, if it's anything like Skye the prices have been hiked up a lot this year probably to make up for losses due to the pandemic. I've just paid for a week on Skye in November what someone would usually pay at the peak of the season.
 
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Bob
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I'll offer my opinions, but our styles and ideals differ greatly and are at either end of the scale. Lewis is more rugged and a much nicer coastline to shoot in my opinion with much more scope for exploration, because it suits what I like much more, but the lochs inland can give you exactly what YOU want even in the midst of off season. Harris is beautiful, the beaches exceptional. The Golden Road is a MUST do on Harris. Accommodation I just book through AirB&B, self catering for a week isn't usually too bad, although I've not checked this year, if it's anything like Skye the prices have been hiked up a lot this year probably to make up for losses due to the pandemic. I've just paid for a week on Skye in November what someone would usually pay at the peak of the season.
I loved Lewis as much as Harris.
Point of Ness cliffs and lighthouse was amazing, as were the standing stones at Callanish.
We weren't far from Tolsta beach which was awesome with its massive rocks rising from the sand....
As you say both parts of the island offer different experiences, but both equally as good in my book, but that depends on what you're looking for.
 
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Mark
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my gut is probably March with the spring tides flattering the coastal shots more.
Just for reference spring tides aren't related to seasons, they occur twice a (lunar) month, so you can get them year round.

If you want dramatic breaking waves then spring tides are your best bet, springs bring high high tides and low low tides (as opposed to Neap Tides which bring low high tides and high low tides, less range, less variance between high and low water, so less dramatic movement of water).

If you can get spring tides coupled with strong winds blowing onto the shore then you've got your best chance of big seas. Wind against the tide (eg tide running Westwards with wind blowing from the East or vice versa) gives you nasty sharp waves, plenty of spray in the air.
 
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Jeremy Moore
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I'll never forget the evening class I went to where the lecturer explained spring tides as follows

"Spring - from the Norse (I think) sprungen - to bulge". It refers to the fact that at certain tides of year - roughly every fortnight - the moon and sun's gravitational pull are acting in the same direction, rather than at right angles. Hence the water "bulges" more towards the moon.
 

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Stephen Barnett
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Lewis and Harris, an empty whisky bottle every 200 yrds in the ditch by the road, a sea mist and the beaches glow, visit the old sites, industrial or neolithic. Look overhead for golden eagles.
 
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