All the Hebridean Islands are connected by ferries. Our lodgings were in old thatched buildings with 34-inch-thick walls. There are three of these hostels in the Outer Hebrides and they are run by the Gatliff Trust Foundation to provide shelter for travelers—especially walkers and bikers. We would stay there for 5 nights enjoying the peace and quiet.
Tommy, the hostel warden’s husband told us that he could trace his ancestry on the Hebrides back to the 1300s, and that a great, great, great….aunt on his mother’s side was the Flor MacDonald who smuggled Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Isle of Skye dressed as her maid.
|A warning to heed on the causeway between Eriskay and South Uist. |
We would meet this family of cyclists in the evening at Howmore Hostel.
The shop sits right next to the highway in front of Denise’s home and is self-service: “Make your selection and bring your payment up to the house.”
|The shop is beautifully laid out and features a nice selection of Hebridean yarn |
as well as hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn.
When Cathy walked through the luscious walled garden (even in late winter!) to the house to pay, Denise welcomed us in to her studio and added some garter stitches using her own Beínn Sgíathan gray yarn. The name comes from the hill where the sheep graze.
Cathy had us all ready to leave the next morning and then at the last minute, she decided that we should stay an extra three nights at Howmore. We were mostly here by ourselves and it was so very peaceful! She took a local bus to visit the local Kildonan Museum that several locals recommended. There were some nice exhibits about the Harris Tweed that the Hebrides are famous for. But the highlights for me were Carol and Angela, who worked in the museum’s craft shop. They were delighted to add some lace (Carol) and basketweave (Angela) to me.
Returning to our hostel on the bus, the driver took an unscheduled detour. Cathy was curious but did not say anything. Shortly, the driver pulled over and peered into the field. In a minute, he reached for his phone, still peering intently into the distance. “That ewe is lambing,” he said. Cathy could barely pick out the sheep, but the driver dialed a number, engaged in a short Gaelic conversation, hung up, and continued down the road. In a minute, we passed a house and the driver pointed to a woman who was jumping into her SUV, “That’s the farmer.” These people look out for each other and their animals, even when it means the bus deviates from route and schedule!
That evening, Betty, the warden for the Howmore Hostel visited with us and added a 3-stitch ribbing using some of the “postbox red” Iona yarn. Nice!
The next day, Cathy took a hike up the coast and around some nearby lochs. On the beach she found razor clam and urchin shells which she thought might inspire some future knitted colorwork:
Here are a few more images that will help you understand why it took us so long to leave Howmore:
Next stop: North Uist and Berneray