Castlebay and Barra


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Coffee stop at Barra Beach Hotel

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Captain Cook looking down from top of Barra to Castlebay below we Bliss is sitting happily on mooring

We've spent the day exploring Barra. Bliss is safely secured to a mooring buoy in the bay, which incidentally does have a castle in the middle of it. The seat of the MacNeil clan since 1427 , except for a brief 100 year period when, due to cash-flow issues most of Barra was sold to a ruthless perpertraitor of the land clearances of the mid 1800s, Colonel John Gordon. In 1932 an American, Robert MacNeil, traced his ancestry proved he was the 45th Chief of the Clans, and bought the estates back, restored the castle, passed it on to his son, who in turn, handed back the crofting part of the estate to the people of Scotland and, every year, has one almighty Scottish knees-up, in the castle, for the MacNeil clan!
The rest of Barra is pretty darn stunning too. We took the Bromptons out for another spin today, unfortunately Chris has wrecked the front bearing of his, following a particularly fast descent at the end of our ride, towards the pub!
We circumnavigated the island, only about 15 miles, including a diversion out to the airport to see a Twin Otter take off from the beach; that'll be us in a couple of days!! . We spent an hour in the library using the internet, there is no phone or wifi signal in the town, and then spent £7 in a phone box calling Owen whom we haven't managed to speak to for a couple of weeks. The last time I remember using a phone box was in 2010 in North Yorkshire phoning Owen, who was in Central America at the time, he had a perfectly good mobile signal, but unfortunately we didn't!
We had coffee and cake overlooking the most fabulous beach, deserted of course, didn't swim though. Chris is a bit coldly again, so despite the full sunshine is still in 2 pairs of trousers, the north wind still blows like crazy, and is a bit chilly.
We were approaching the completion of our circuit when we passed a hill, Heavell, at 383 metres the highest point on Barra. The road had reached 93 metres so there was a simple matter of a 300 metre scramble in order to enjoy 360 degree views stretching as far as Mull. I was wearing sandals, which was fine going up, but a bit lethal coming back down so I took them off and enjoyed the soggy bogs. The views were spectacular, we could see Mull, Skye, the Sound of Harris, and lots of Islands, ocean and sky!
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