05-Jun-2004 -- Decided to return from South Uist, by the long 5 hour ferry to Oban, This I knew passed very close to 57N 7 W and it would be amusing to see just how close we got. The route heads southeast out of Lochboisdale towards the Sound of Mull passing Barra, Rum, Muck and Coll. The "Lord of the Isles" was a bit late and we had quite a wait in the cramped carpark at Lochboisdale.
Unfortunately the day was foggy and driech and we got no views and was rather hammered by the frequent blasts on the foghorn. The crossing is very scenic, passing many islands, but not today. However sightings of seabirds and dolphins did brighten the gloom somewhat. In the end, the countdown stuck at 8.18km and the confluence slipped by to starboard,unseen.
The Uists are the central part of the Western Isles. Largely lowlying and covered with lochs, they are a strange land where sea and land are completely mixed. However along the eastern shore there is a broken line of hills rising to 620m at Beinn Mhor on South Uist. I had an enjoyable ascent a few days earlier. The rock is Lewisian gneiss, 2.8 billion years old. The western shores are strips of blown shell sand, fertile and well drained, this is the famed machair and is very rich farmland and the breeding site for vast numbers of birds. The local economy is fragile, mainly crofting, (very small scale agriculture) and fishing. The remoteness deters most tourists visting Scotland, but there are more visitors now,and cycling the chain of islands is very popular. The hills are not high, but still give very fine hillwalking, and ther trout fishing in the lochs, there are a lot of lochs, is world reknowned.
I expect this one will soon get a visit from a vessel smaller than a refrigerated transport soon as the area is very popular with yachtsmen.
On a clear day, you will get to see a lot of land from the confluence, The west will be a line of hills from Barra head to Eaval on North Uist, and to the north and east the peaks on Rum and Mull will be visible.