When we want to express something as being remote, far away or lost completely, you may hear people in Britain say: ‘it might as well be in Timbuktu’ – we use this as it sounds exotic, distant, and many don’t even realise that its a real place. Another place name used to express this remoteness is ‘the Outer Hebrides’, with the phrase being used in a similar manner to above. This ‘remoteness’ adds to the mystery of the place and gave me a desire to visit.
Many years ago I flew over the Outer Hebrides, on a flight to the west coast of the USA; the view was clear and it was possible to see huge sweeping bays with blue seas and white sand – this was not what I had expected to see in this part of Britain and this too made me keen to visit at some time in the future.
I made it there eventually; in April 2012 – to just one of the islands for now: Barra.
The reason for choosing Barra – apart from the location – was that it has the only airport in the world that uses the beach as a runway for scheduled flights.
First question: where is it?
Some random images to give a flavour…
Castlebay is as busy as it gets; couple of hotels, couple of restaurants and a convenience store, a small supermarket and a petrol station. There is a bank with ATM.
The neighbouring island of Vatersay is connected with a causeway, Vatersay is a good place to spot otters.
Above is the westerly beach of Vatersay, in September 1853 an emigrant ship from Liverpool, bound for Canada ran aground on this beach with an almost total loss of life; some 350 persons are buried in these dunes.
Another Vatersay disaster: on the 12th May 1944 a Catalina Flying Boat crashed into Vatersay, 3 died, but 6 survived. The remains of the plane survive remarkably well.
See also Barra – the flights