Healeys to Harris... and beyond.                                   14th to 22nd July 2004         

One of the beautiful beaches of the Western Isles.

This article which did not appear in the Kilda and Treshnish Isles Review, was written by their reporter Mikohan Koeachan. Photographs by Mike Pye.

   In July this year, parked on the quayside at Craignure on the Island of Mull and waiting for the MacBraynes ferry to Oban, were two big Healeys. Once on board the ferry I tracked down the cars’ owners Mike and Muriel Pye and Mike and Iona Kean. They were kind enough to answer my questions.

   Have you been touring Mull?

    Muriel Pye.  We have covered some of Mull but are returning to Oban, the last stage of a   tour of the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Mull.

    Where have you been?

    Mike Pye. We left Oban eight days ago and sailed to the Island of Barra the southern most inhabited island in the outer isles. From here we took the ferry to Eriskay and drove across South Uist and Benbecula and on to North Uist. Next we took the Ferry to Harris.The Northern most  point we reached was Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis which we visited on a Sunday so there was not a great deal going on, apart that is from  church services!
    From here we took yet another ferry to Uig on Skye drove across Skye and took the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig and then drove South to Lochaline and crossed the sound of Mull to Fishnish. Finally, here we are returning to Oban from Craignure on Mull.

    That sounds quite a journey, how many miles did you actually drive?

   Mike Kean. In all five hundred and forty miles by the time we return to Oban.

   Your cars appear to have very little ground clearance, how did you find driving on and off the ferries?

   Mike Kean. You are right about the clearance! I was concerned as some of the ramps are at odd angles and have lumps where they hinge, however apart from a few “graunches” we have returned unscathed and I need not have worried.

    How was the weather?

    Iona Kean. That is a very pertinent question because my husband refuses to put up the hood no matter what the weather. We were fortunate we had some wonderful days, some mixed and some when it did rain quite a bit but nothing to put a stop to what we wanted to do.

    Were you staying in B and Bs?

    Muriel Pye. No as this is the busy season I pre booked all our Hotels (See at the end for those Hotels used). We also pre booked all the ferries, Caledonian MacBrayne were most helpful and all the arrangements went off with out a hitch.

    Food Good?

    Mike Pye. Without exception the food was superb. At the start of the trip I was not too sure of just how good the food would be. I had no need to worry; I don’t think I have eaten so well for as long as I can remember!

    What impressed you most about the islands?

    Iona Kean. Now that is a difficult one to answer because we were constantly being impressed. For me though it was the boat trip to Fingals Cave on Staffa followed by landing on the island of Lunga. This is a bird sanctuary and the cliffs are alive with sea birds of different types. The Puffins were fascinating. They were quite fearless and allowed us to sit within two feet of them while they looked at us or with a studied expression went about gathering material for their nests. It was a magical experience and one that I will not forget. It was good to have a day out of the car too!

    Mike Kean.  The stunning pure white beaches and turquoise water of Barra and Harris. I have seen photographs of these beaches of course but they really are breathtaking in their beauty. It was also good to see the island aircraft landing on the beach in the North of Barra.

    Mike Pye.  Barra, a tiny island which one can drive right round in an hour, fabulous beaches, which we walked on in daylight at 11.00 pm at night!, wonderful scenery and a great Hotel!

    Muriel Pye. The carpets of different flowers on the machair adjacent to the beaches, and the friendliness of all those people we met on our tour.

    How about petrol, there are not too many garages on the Islands and how was the traffic?

    Mike Kean. We found petrol was not a problem and managed to keep ourselves well topped up. It could be difficult if you allowed yourself to get too low! The roads are single track in places but generally well surfaced, there was not much traffic. Most other drivers were courteous when we had to use the passing places.

   Do you have any plans for a future trip?

    Muriel Pye.  Yes, we have enjoyed this experience so much that next year we may visit Coll, Tiree, Colonsay and return to Mull.  It never ceases to amaze me how the cars act as a catalyst in making new acquaintances, so many interesting people struck up conversations with us. I am sure that this would not be the case had we been driving a family saloon.

    What happens when you reach Oban?

    Mike Pye. We set off for the Lake District which puts another 500 miles on the round trip and the Keans return to the North East of Scotland.

  Hotels Visited.

Oban - Dungallan House.

Barra. – Isle of Barra Hotel.

North Uist – Lochmaddy Hotel.

Harris – Harris Hotel.

Skye – Viewfield House Hotel.

Mull – Druimard Country House.

     Please click on each photo to enlarge. (Hover on picture for caption.)


Leaving Oban for Barra.

Safe arrival. Evening in Barra.

Wonderful beaches.


Healeys from afar.

Isle of Barra airport.

Isle of Barra airport 2.


Turquoise sea and silver sand.

The Happy Healeyers.

Leaving Barra for Eriskay, South Uist.


Healeys resting, South Uist.

Cor! Nice motor.

Boarding the ferry.


Approaching Leverburgh, Isle of Harris.

The 'Machan' on Harris.

Smart for a holiday home.


Coffee stop at Flodigarry, Isle of Skye

Mm! Fresh lobster for dinner.

Views from Viewfield House, Isle of Skye.


More views from Skye.

Morning chores! Ready to depart.

Leaving the Cuillins.


Quayside at Armadale.

Amazing geology on Staffa.

Fingal's cave.


Iona at Fingal's cave.

More geology.

Leaving Staffa for Lunga.


Puffins on Lunga.

You have to get on with the neighbours.