I’ve just returned from what now seems to be an annual pilgrimage to the Outer Hebrides. The Isle of Harris seems to draw me to it again and again and I’ve just discovered that it has now been over 30 years since my first visit to the island.
Each time, without fail, it takes several days to adjust to its spirit of intense, unbelievable contrasts and uncompromising ruggedness. My reaction to it is always a deeply visceral one – almost, at times, overwhelming. It usually throws me completely off-balance and gives a major jolt – an energising and exhilarating ‘restore and thorough back-up’ to my system.
I will leave the images to do (most of) the talking.
If you scroll through, you’ll get a sense of the bones and the ‘fabric’ of one of the most extraordinary and magical places on this spinning globe, this island on the northern edge of the Atlantic. (As well as as sense of how/why this island has inspired the weaving of the wonderful Harris Tweed and the more recently renowned Isle of Harris Gin!)
Next-door to us in Lingerbay, on Harris, and long-ago deserted.
The sense of loss and decay in this place which must once have been a dearly-loved home, was overwhelming, oppressive even, to anyone stumbling upon it today.
While on Harris, we learned of this beautiful Gaelic word: ‘Cianalas’ – kʲiənəLəs – ke-en-alas. I think it must be apt here: “a combination of homesickness, melancholy, and general longing for the place of one’s roots”. There’s a wonderful interpretation of this more-or-less untranslatable word here, on a super blogpost: <https://thecroft.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/cianalas/>
The former Rodel Hotel, above, which has recently been sold. Many of the islanders we spoke to are hoping it will be retained as a hotel.
Looking back towards the mainland and Wester Ross, across the northern tip of Skye, with clear views of Slioch, Baosbheinn and the Torridons.
Below, Rodel Harbour.