Whilst sitting down for breakfast we quickly realised that the man sitting at the next table, was sat alongside us at dinner last night too. We obviously choose our places to eat and sleep well. After checking out we headed straight to the Co-op in Broadford to stock up for the next few days as all shops on North Uist are closed on Sundays. It felt a bit strange to get to the till at 9.40am, and then be told that we couldn’t buy the beer Rich had carefully selected, until 10am. Instead we had to stash the bag beneath the counter, go for a stroll, and come back to reclaim it! Not quite sure how banning alcohol sales for a few hours is supposed to impact on consumption levels.
We stopped at the visitor centre just outside Portree, and then made our way to the ferry port at Uig. Whilst the pottery shop and workshop were open, both the tea-shop and restaurant were closed, it still being out of season. Fortunately the distillery had spotted the gap in the market and served mugs of tea and hot soup from its shop. The soup did a grand job of warming us up whilst we patiently waited for the ferry, delayed by sheer volume of traffic rolling on and off at both ends apparently.
Once on board we headed straight for the Mariners restaurant for an ok-isk chicken tikka, before taking in the sea air and salt spray on the viewing deck, and finding a quiet spot to sit in the warm inside. Fortunately neither of us get sea-sick, although this was going to be a relatively short crossing anyhow. It still provided magnificent views of the Outer Hebrides though, and before we knew it we were docking in Lochmaddy. From the port it was just a 10 mile trip to our base for the next two weeks – the Doctor’s Bothy. Whenever he can, Rich likes to stay in places that are literally hard to get to, and in the bothy’s case this involved a long and very steep rutted track whick Skyra (our little car) managed beautifully.
Duncan, the owner, had very kindly lit the fire for our arrival, and explained that the bothy had taken two years to renovate, not least because they’d had to start by removing almost a metre of manure from inside. It’s off-grid, with solar panels and a small wind-turbine which provides just enough energy for the lighting and to recharge one phone at a time. There was a TV but we try to avoid watching one whenever we go away. After settling in, I went for a quick exploratory stroll whilst Rich cooked a chicken stir-fry. There’s a natural fridge outside, which was basically an unplugged conventional fridge that relied on good old Scottish weather to keep things cold, but this would prove to work so well that we often ended up defrosting food.
After dinner we lit all the candles we could find, and settled down to enjoy the peace and quiet. This was out first time with a peat fire, but we found that it gave off a lovely background heat, as well as that unique peaty smell. With a sofa each and plenty of blankets, it felt like a proper idyll.