On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
This series was created by Alain Chamot (1971-2020) as a place to share our adventures and observations, no matter where we are.
The sand and sky in the first photo are amazing, and the sky in the next two photos, just outstanding. So calming and beautiful. Plus we get sheep! ~WaterGirl
I visited the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland last July. Seems a lifetime ago. My family name originates from that part of the world and I was curious to see the landscapes of my ancestors. Of course the islands are quite different now. In part because the Vikings cut down most of the forests a thousand years ago and they never recovered.
Once I adjusted to the stark vistas of peat, lochs, and rock (so different from my home of oak woodlands & redwood groves), it became quite appealing to see the sweep of the land and sky. But the most evocative sight was the abandoned villages. There’d be a village marked on the map, but when you drove through found maybe a cluster of empty stone buildings. The isles and crofts never recovered from the clearances of the mid 1700s. (I can trace my father’s lineage back to Philadelphia, 1750.)
Beach and big sky on west coast of the Isle of South Uist.
I enjoy being in the northern latitudes in June or July for the amazing sunsets that morph a few hours later into sunrises. This is a view from our cottage near Griminish at 11 PM, with a glimpse of the never ending twilight. The owner of the cottage has the same family name (slightly different spelling), and encouraged me to visit the historical museum on South Uist and a cemetery or two. The museum had a chart showing my ancient lineage from ~1000, starting with the Norse-Gaelic Somerled to ~1350 when the last clann patriarch was assassinated (a bug in the clann system).
View toward the loch from our farm stay in the village of Tolsta Chaolais at 1130 PM, again showing the amazing twilight. The roads in the Outer Hebrides are mainly single track with pull outs every kilometer or so. You develop a rhythm with oncoming traffic after a while as to who yields and who drives on; learning quickly the message of flashing headlights…
Lobster traps at the Port of Ness, a historical fishing port and the location of ‘The Great Drowning’ (Am Bathadh Mor) in December 1862 when 5 fishing boats sank in a gale, drowning 30 crew, leaving 24 widows and their children [“A national appeal raised £1,500 for the fishermen’s families, however, shortly after the donations were distributed the money was taken away as rent for the crofts they lived on”; www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-20766930].
Torn machair (a fragile soil which forms when sand is blown onto peat moorland) near the restored Gearrannan Blackstone Village.
Sheep being shorn with clippers, adjacent to the blackhouse village. (Also near Carloway Mill where warp threads are woven on looms from the late 1800s, then given local crofters who weave the weft threads to produce Harris Tweed.) You can watch Harris Tweed being woven on a traditional loom in the village.
Sheep being shorn with clippers, adjacent to the blackhouse village with a couple sheep dogs standing by in case a sheep gets a crazy idea… (We took a walk with the farm’s sheep dog one day, and he would get in these stare-downs with grazing sheep, which would spook them. When we mentioned this to the farmer he said, ‘yep, that way his dog has plausible deniability about harassing the sheep.’)
Shorn sheep after being tagged.