Sunday, 31 May 2015

A Wander in the Western Isles - Harris, Uists, Eriskay and Skye

Now then,

        here is the final part of my post trilogy about the pubs, places and scenery of the Western Isles.

We left Stornoway later than planned but WF did manage to get in the Crit for a pic which I didn't manage. Soon we were heading down towards Harris, before doing which we ended up at the Loch Eriscort Inn. This hotel, pub and restaurant is run by a bloke from Huddersfield - he sells real ale in "summer" , but no-one is sure when that is....and at other times bottles from Hebridean Brewing Co. Tash had a coffee and WF a soft drink so I shared a bottle of Hebridean Claymore with Tash,. which was o tasty and easy to drink we had another - this time the Highlander, whilst WF nipped to the loo!

We traveled down the road beyond to St Peters Port and back and then headed off to Harris. A diversion for 45 minutes to Huishnish beach was well worth t, if nothing else for the views and driving through the grounds of a castle. We were soon in Tarbet in Harris and went to the modern Isle Of Harris Inn. They had two real ales on, Deuchars and Redness from Loch Ness Brewery. Me and Tash had a pint each of that, which was £4.00 a pint. Its 4.2%. It s likely the going rate on the Islands - except, so few sell real ale.

We took teh winding coast road to the ferry and were soon on North Uist. We ate at Lochmaddy Hotel, which has two handpumps but almost always just Deuchars on - which was lovely. Alas, we went twice and ate twice and paid on card so am unsure how much real ale cost. The food was lovely.

The next day we headed out past the Westford Inn at Kirkibost. The Whatpub website has it being for sale and locals say its not been open for a year or more. When we went past, there was no longer even a sign - here is a link with a photograph. We headed down the West coast to Benbecula over a causeway and down to South Uist and eventually arrived at the Borowdale Hotel. Alas, this place also only sells real ale in the Summer so we left and headed for the Polocharr Inn at Polocharr on the coast. No real ale here either - they say they couldn't sell it and won't do so anymore, but they do sell about 8 or 9 bottles form local Scottish breweries. Sat in the cosy lounge I had a bottle of Loch Ness Brightness, whilst Tash and WF were on hot drinks.

Our trip to Eriskay was brief and took us to the pub Am Politician - this is also in the local CAMRA list of pubs selling real ale but doesn't even have  a handpump! They used to sell "bottled real ale". I did not ask what, and they had none left. Tea was once again back at the Lochmaddy Hotel, where the food was excellent once more, as was the 2 or 3 pints of Deuchars I supped.

The next day we caught the ferry in bright siunshine - Friday was the best day weather wise, although cold, it was gloriously sunny thoughout. We got to Uig and visited the remains of Duntulm Castle and the waterfall at Kilt Rock and the Quiraing, a beautiful area of the island, before driving along a long single track road to Waternish and the wonderful Stein Inn. Three real ales were on plus bottled beers and Wee Fatha treated us to two shots - the last two - of Talisker 25 year old. At £25.00 a shot. He did allow himself a small taste but we drank the rest and were and remain eternally grateful. We also had two pints of Skye Gold, which was lovely, and the Cairngorm Scapa Pale.The Stein is a wonderful pub in a fantastic setting - I really hope we can return.

Our evening meal was at Seamus bar at the Sligachan Hotel. They now have their own brewery, the Cuillin Brewery, so we tried al 4 of their ales, Skye Ale, Black Face, Eagle and Pinnacle. The Pinnacle was probably the best, the others had slightly odd but not unpleasant flavours, although they were popular in the busy bar.

Our penultimate day so us travel over the Glenelg ferry down a beautiful mountain road from Breakish where we stayed.  Once in Glenelg we went to see the brochs, but a need for the loo took us to the Glenelg Inn. Situated at the waters edge with a lovely view we didn't expect to find real ales - but they sold 3, Deuchars, London Pride and Caledonian XPA. Me and Tash had a pint of that and an absolutely brilliant soup and roll to put us on. The pub is well worth a visit, and must be lovely to sit outside in "Summer" as its called.

After seeing the brochs we drove over Mam Rattigan pass to join the road to Fort William and another obviatory need saw us return to the Eagle Barge at Laggan Locks. A pint and a half of the An Teallach were sampled and we were once again made to feel welcome in this tiny, floating pub. We soon reached our accommodation and they have a bar and restaurant that sells one real ale. This was Cairngorm Nessies Monster Mash, and itv was £3.40 a pint if I recall. We had pints of this with our evening meal before WF went to get a much needed early night and we went to the excellent Grog and Gruel.

The pub sells 6 real ales and three keykeg beers as well as bottles and is very popular with locals and visitors. There were two An Teallach ales on, so I had a pint of each, along with a Williams Giraffe pale ale, a Nimrod cask lager, an Orkney Red Mcgregor and another, as well as the Williams Ceasar Augustus hoppy lager on Key keg. To note, this is a 50% beer on Keykeg for £3.45 a pint. Suffice o say we had plenty! Me and Tash stayed later for many more drinks and whiskies, before returning to the West End Hotel around 01.00 for more real ale and whiskies. With hanks to the Night Porter for serving and chatting with us.

Sunday was our return home, but after a 9 hour train journey we ended up at the Sheffield Tap. We both went for the Delicious but astonishingly expensive 6.7% Magic Rock Villainous - it was fantastic, yes, but at £5.00 a pint easily the most expensive beer of the holiday....

Finally, our thanks and best wishes to Wee Fatha. Without his desire, knowledge and drive, in more than one sense, none of this holiday would have happened.


Wee Beefy

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