Weather: Wet with some medium wind storms, some beautiful clear days with perhaps more ‘dreich’ days
Time has passed and only the ghost of summer is now still with us. The clocks have changed to winter times.The time modification, even if it is only and hour, is very dis-orientating, we now wake up at 6am, rather than 7am and go to bed at 9pm, rather than 10pm. It seems we have only just got used to the summer time and then it is changed again – Time has become more elusive recently, maybe this is an age-related thing, a COVID induced state or living on a remote island?
Autumn is a beautiful season, good light, fantastic rainbows, sunsets together with the lessening of tourist traffic. The seasonal traffic (which due to ‘staycations’ increased) although can be frustrating on the single track roads, of the islands, is welcomed. The tourist industry is significant and the majority of the visitors come here to enjoy and respect the environment. Tourism certainly provides an income stream for many islanders and is a relatively benign activity – unlike the proposal to build a commercial vertical rocket launching site on a designated National Scenic Area.
Autumn is also the time for deer watching, because September marks the start of the rutting season – this goes through to November. The rutting stags are very vocal at dawn and dusk; we love listening to their mating ritual. Also, the wild mushroom hunting season starts – we are getting better at recognising and have found, for the table, some meadow wax caps, these are good to eat and plentiful; field mushrooms – easily identifiable and very rich in flavour; and the odd puff ball – a favourite, tasting like an omelette. August to October we have begun harvesting blackberries and rose-hips, making delicious jam and chutney, we are even getting a good reputation (amongst friends and family) for these preserves!
September thursday 16th
Socialising is still enabled, and is still a novelty. We had dinner with friends Effie and Andy. A lovely night, relaxed with a walk back at about 23:30 in the pitch black of the night. We borrowed a torch from our hosts, to light the way – We still have much to learn!
Friday 17th John away to Newcastle – a little worse for wear!
Nicola : 9.30am went for a ‘selkie’ group loch swim. There were three of us. It was fantastic – the weather was cold, but bearable. I was the only one wearing a full wet suit. We swam for about an hour. The clouds were beautiful and layered and when the sun shone through it was hot and warming on my face. Getting out was the cold part, my hands were a little shaky. Luckily I brought double jumpers, and my wind proof coat and hat – I was not over-dressed. The loch is near to our Croft, so I had only a short walk back to a lovely coffee and a sit with the cats. You never regret a wild swim, it is exhilarating and sets you up in a positive way for the whole rest of your day.
A fairly big wind, the first of the season, I had to cancel an arranged swim with Rosie. The light was stunning topped by a gorgeous sunset.
I went on the re-arranged swim with Rosie – on the same loch near the Croft – The day was fabulously calm after the storm from the previous day. We had a very refreshing swim, both of us wore our wet suits. John returned from his trip to the mainland, to a Lovely evening, with blue skies and fluffy clouds and just a little breeze. The midges have finally gone and a beautiful rainbow was covering the sky.
Through our t panoramic window, we can watch the arrival of the pink-footed geese and redwing (all the way from Iceland). A heron has also begun to regularly visit our shore at the bottom of our garden. The heron is lovely to observe, patient and decisive. He moves in slow motion and then suddenly juts his head forward whilst simultaneously wading with caution through the loch, it is like watching a Butoh dance performance. we have also spotted some curlew, a migratory bird, that has recently gone on the near-threatened list.
The seals have begun to re-appear on the nearby rocks although not in large numbers, they seem to enjoy the opportunity to sun themselves when provided with a suitable opportunity. The local golden eagles, that appear to live somewhere high up on the hill in front of the Croft house, can be seen hanging on the wind high above.
We have mentioned previously our involvement with the ‘Friends of Scolpaig’.
After a Pre-COVID series of presentations, the partners, in the plan to develop a Spaceport at Scolpaig, have said that they will re-present their proposals ‘later this year’.
Both the Scottish Government and the Western Isles Council are committed to a zero carbon policy and in the recently published document : ‘Islands Growth Deal; Our Islands, Our Deal’
Much is made of the island’s Tourism industry and the document outlines that ‘the island’s tourism industry regularly comes out on top in stunning natural and cultural heritage, which includes two of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites (St Kilda and Heart of Neolithic Orkney) and the UK’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site (St Kilda)’
Scolpaig is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with a ‘stunning’ natural coastline with pristine seas that abound in wildlife. It is home to many plants and animals of interest and its bird life is celebrated throughout the U.K. The nearby island of St Kilda is clearly visible from the site at Scolpaig. This is clearly understood by both the Western Isles Council and the Scottish Government. Yet somehow, in the same document there is Scolpaig projected as the site for a vertical launch Spaceport! This is truly magical thinking.
The development of the Spaceport would change this place forever. North Uist would become dominated by this activity. The deafening roar of rocket launches would be heard from all over the island and the pollution from the additional traffic and the burning of the fuel, chemical run-off and dispersal of debris from the launch of the rockets will cause serious pollution of the land, air and sea, both around the site, and further afield. This much is obvious. We understand the need for jobs, but do not believe high value jobs will be available to local people and that if jobs are forth-coming they will likely be part-time few, low paid and menial. The tourist industry will be ruined as North Uist becomes a ‘Mad Little Island’, (alternative title from the 1958 film Compton MacKenzie’s ‘Rocket Island’)
We are hoping that the COP 26 Conference, to negotiate global action on issues of climate change, held in Glasgow from the 1st – 12th November, will influence the outcomes of the environmental report and subsequent proposal to develop the Spaceport on Scolpaig, North Uist.
We have contacted our local representatives in both the Scottish and UK Parliaments and hope that this scheme will be properly scrutinised and eventually rejected, although there is much vested interest in the ‘success of this scheme. We are also waiting to hear from S.E.P.A. (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) and Nature Scotland.
We urge you all to help protect this site of natural heritage and beauty – please sign the online petition at
(if the link does not work directly from here pleas copy and paste in your url.)
And for anyone who is interested there is a public information session on Spaceport 1, at 7pm on Wednesday 17th November 2021.
Alice cat and Mad Max kitten run rings around us. They are constantly in competition with each other for seats, toys, food and even litter trays! Nobody else seems to have cats that completely take over the running of their house. We need to take charge…