This is Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Bay or Traigh Leis, where it is said Prince Charles Edward Stuart first landed in Scotland in 1745.

When we swam it was enticingly crystal clear and aquamarine but still very icy.

This is ‘Whisky Galore’ country. It’s a rather good film and a splendid bit of history. A parable of Scottish – or rather Outer Hebridean – political independence perhaps. A kind of #OccupySingleMalt

South around the corner from here on Eriskay is the ferry to Barra and north is the causeway back onto South Uist. We took the path up the hill where the band of Lewisian gneiss extends its stripy path through the Outer Hebrides.

It’s difficult to describe quite how breathtaking the beaches are on these islands. Strewn with mewling oystercatchers, straddled with veins of wonderful rock, garlanded with bright pink and green seaweed, as well as stinking with rotting kelp. They are broad, windswept, empty and aching with light from the North Atlantic skies, dramatised with Wagnerian cloudscapes. Swimming feels like quite a brave and humble act.


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