Winter Adventures on the Isle of Harris.

Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I spent a few days exploring the Isle of Harris, it was an amazing few days and we got to see the island at it’s wild best which was amazing. I was invited up to Harris by Essence of Harris to photograph some of their amazing products.

The journey from Argyll is quite a long one, especially at this time of year with it getting dark around 4 so we broke the journey up by staying in a lovely wee B&B on Skye called Dunans near Flodigarry. On the Tuesday morning we sailed to Tarbert, Harris from Uig. Although the journey was very scenic I was glad to finally reach dry land as I’m not a massive fan of ferries. Actually it’s not the ferries I hate it’s the deep turbulent water. Anyone else have this fear?

We headed straight to the Essence of Harris factory once we arrived where we were given a warm welcome and a big box of products to photograph! The owners of the company, Jamie and Deenie let us stay in their lovely wee Airbnb called the Smithy, it’s such a cosy wee studio perfect for couples.

The weather wasn’t ideal (being December we didn’t expect much else) but we headed out with the products from Essence of Harris anyway towards Huisinis beach. We stopped at a wee river along the way to get some shots, nearly fell in the river but that’s all part of the fun and the shots turned out ok.

It’s quite a long drive down to Huisinis beach along a wee narrow winding road but it’s totally worth it as the views onto the beach as you approach are beautiful even on a driech day.

I was cursing the wind earlier on in the day as it kept blowing the products about however the wind here helped create my favourite shot of the entire trip. We position the candle in the grass on the dunes and I used a slow shutter speed and steady hand to capture the movement of the grass. For me it was important to capture the elements of the place and I think that’s what the company wanted as well.

The next day the weather was far too wet to be taking the products out to photograph so we headed up to Lewis and visited the Callanish stones, they were pretty incredible but I didn't take any photos due to the weather. En route to Lewis we stopped for lunch at a wee catering trailer called Taste n’ Sea located at Bowglass, I would highly recommend stopping here for some food, all the seafood is fresh and locally caught and while you’re eating you can look out to the gorgeous views of Loch Seaforth.

On the Thursday morning we woke to the most incredible sunrise so jumped straight out of bed and into the car heading for the amazing view of Loch Seaforth from Bowglass but unfortunately by the time we arrived there the vibrant sky had disappeared which was very frustrating. Still we managed to get some ‘moody’ shots of the lovely hip flasks Essence of Harris make.

On our way back we managed to catch a bit of nice light in a couple of places to create some interesting photos. It was difficult though as there was a strong bitingly cold wind which blew all the products about. It’s quite funny, when I’m ‘in the zone’ and shooting I don’t feel the elements too badly it’s when I stop it the cold hits me, usually like a brick and it certainly did that morning.

On Thursday afternoon we went to Luskentyre beach, for me this was one of the highlights of the trip. Luskentyre has been on my bucket list for many years but I guess I didn’t see it in the way I dreamed of. I don’t know about anyone else but when I think of Luskentyre I think of beautiful sunsets, sunshine and I suppose a place of tranquility but when we visited we saw the real Luskentyre. The sky was angry looking, the waves crashed violently onto the beach and the bitterly cold high winds which swept the sand along the beach at such speed it made me feel quite dizzy. Not to mention that the sand got everywhere and blinded me for a good few minutes. But even though the beach was a lot more volatile than what I wanted to experience it was incredible to see that way and it almost felt invigorating, well until the cold finally took over.

The tweed I’m wearing in the bottom photo is Essence of Harris’s tweed, its very beautiful and you can see quite clearly it’s been inspired by the natural colours of the island. More importantly for me at the time it was super cosy.

After a bracing day we decided to give ourselves a wee treat (also because we thought it was our last night on Harris, it wasn’t the weather put paid to that) and went for dinner at the North Harbour Bistro on Scalpay. Oh my goodness, the food here was absolutely incredible and the chef was a fantastic host, he cooked an incredible meal for us even although he wasn’t fully open when we turned up. This place could be considered a wee bit expensive if you are on a budget but in my opinion it’s 100% worth the extra pounds as everything about this place is delicious!

We were meant to head home on the first ferry on Friday morning but a storm was hitting and I pretty much refused to go on the ferry. Thankfully Jamie and Deenie were very accommodating and let us stay. We ended up having to stay the Saturday night too as all ferries were cancelled. The extra days were spent wave hunting and my goodness there was some incredible waves along the west coast of the island.

By Sunday the weather has thankfully calmed down and the sun came out for the first time, we weren’t leaving until the afternoon so got to spend the morning photographing the landscape basking in that beautiful, soft winter light. There was even snow on the hills.

We also headed back to Luskentyre, very briefly, just see the beach in the sunshine. I wasn’t disappointed, it looked so incredibly beautiful and the best part about this visit was getting lucky enough to photograph the beautiful white horses which live on the dunes.

I also took a few product shots, this was a lot less challenging than the previous visit!

I was gutted to leave Harris, despite the wild weather it was incredibly beautiful and had a wonderful atmosphere. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, particularly Deenie, Jamie and all the staff at Essence of Harris. I only work with companies that I like and I really did like so much about Essence of Harris. The products smell amazing, are great quality and the packaging beautiful but what I loved the most about the company was how authentic they are and so connected to their roots on the island which I think is really refreshing and important.

Hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures and thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Just a quick tip if you are visiting the Outer Hebrides, make sure you have plenty of fuel if you are there at the weekend, all fuel stations (along with most shops) are still closed on a Sunday. This is something we never took into consideration and nearly got caught out.