Walking with a whippet on South Uist
The first little foray to the beach across the road from Kilbride campsite on South Uist nearly ended in disaster. I was keen to spot more dolphins, and unbeknownst to me, Jinty was keen to get back and forage for sandwich crusts left for the birds by the people in the tent next door but one. The end result was that as soon as I let the silly whippet off the lead he did a runner, or more of a fast determined walk down the middle of the road. It's a good job the traffic here is pretty slow and people are used to silly animals, usually sheep, walking in the road. Two cars stopped for him, thankfully.
Regrouping, we set off for a proper walk up the coast, and I made sure I kept his lead on for long enough for him to forget about anything else but running on the beach. I keep going on about the white sand and turquoise sea in the Hebrides, but that's what it's like, white sand as far as the eye can see.
We walked on the Machair path, on the flower spangled grass just above the beach, going round one bay, then the next, till I spotted a small island, joined to Uist by a causeway. A quest then, to get to it and climb the grassy hill. On getting closer I could see a jetty and a couple of vans on the island, with a fishing boat moored out to sea. It must be used to bring in the catches and get them off to market.
We cross the causeway, first making sure that there's plenty of leeway tide-wise, and climb to the top of the lush green hill. Brilliant views all around, with the sea every shade of blue imaginable. Small blue flowers I'd never seen before were growing in patches all over the hill. Nothing like it in my Observer's book of wild flowers. Must look in my big flower book when I get home.
Heading back, I decided to walk along the beach, and ended up wading through a very wide stream, getting tangled in seaweed, panicking at the thought of creatures nipping my toes, and then screeching, before trying to calm myself by chanting "it's only seaweed, it's only seaweed". Jinty just looked on in his non-plussed manner and I was very glad that the beach was deserted.
After that I felt the need to stop for a drink at the Palochar Inn. I asked for half a Guinness, but the barmaid misheard and poured a pint....or maybe I just looked in need of a pint. I brought my pint out to make the most of the sunshine and a cyclist came out shaking his head, saying that he had very happy memories of coming upon the pub by chance twenty year ago, when it was an old fashioned place, had wanted to recapture those times and was very disappointed with the "improvements". I have to say that I wasn't impressed by the large screen TV blaring out opposite the bar. However, the setting is perfect, looking out over the white sands of the west coast of South Uist.
We got back to Kilbride campsite without further incident, apart from seeing an old man from the house next to the campsite wheel a wheelbarrow containing a folded up old carpet across the road from his house before dumping it on the beach. It seems to be the done thing on these islands, with some of the beautiful beaches having ancient farm trucks and other junk poking up through the pristine white sand. So, I had a dilemma...should I challenge the dumping man or leave him to it? What to do? I decided to adopt the non intervention in other cultures strategy used by Captain Kirk and Mr Spock on Star Trek, on the basis that I'm the interloper. Still wondering whether I should have said something though.
Anyway I went off to use the brilliant brand new shower facilities before cooking up a mean jacket potato in the Remoska oven, and topping it with tuna and salad. Perfect!