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St Clement's Church

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St Clement's Church, Rodel is 500 years old, built as a burial site for the MacLeod clan. The church can be found at the extreme southern tip of the Isle of Harris, in an elevated position at the centre of a small loop of road which also takes in Rodel village harbour, and remains in good shape thanks to several restorations following fires, periods of decline and the Reformation. The church tower will probably be the first thing that catches your eye. Close up, you'll notice small carvings on each face including a "sheela na gig" on the south side: a naked female with an exaggerated vulva. At some point it must have been possible for visitors to reach the top of the tower, but the final ladder has been removed; stairs still lead part of the way up from the nave. While inside the building there are several elaborate carvings, cross slabs and tombs to admire. These include the tomb of Alastair, 8th chief of MacLeod, and founder of the church.


Name: St Clement's Ch…

Leverburgh

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Leverburgh (original, and some would say correct, name: An t-Ob) is the second largest village on Harris, boasting the island's biggest supermarket, car ferries to Bernerary and the Uists, and boat trips to St Kilda. The settlement takes its modern name from English entrepreneur William Lever, who had grand plans to turn the village into the distribution centre for a vast fisheries company: his business empire later became Unilever. The idea never came to fruition, and today's Leverburgh remains a quiet, scattered place with no clear centre. A restaurant and food van by the harbour provide a couple of options for eating out; also check out the beautiful Harris Millennium Tapestry housed on the upper floor of the supermarket.


Name: Leverburgh ★☆☆☆☆
Location (harbour): G.R.: NG 013864 ///sunk.crackles.walking


Nearby

>> Seallam! Visitor Centre★★☆☆☆ (3 miles away)
>> St Clement's Church★★☆☆☆ (4 miles away)
>> Walk: Ceapabhal - on the edge of it all★★★★☆ (4 mile…

Walk: Ceapabhal - on the edge of it all

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Jutting out prominently at the south-western corner of Harris, Ceapabhal is the highest point on a scenic, uninhabited peninsula only connected to the rest of the island by a sliver of machair in between sandy bays. The hill's isolated position makes it one of the best viewpoints anywhere in the Outer Hebrides: from where else are North Harris, the western beaches, the south coast, the Uists and even (on a clear day) St Kilda visible from a single spot? The approach has two contrasting halves: a glorious coastal stroll taking in two pristine bays of white sand, followed by a steep (though relatively short) slog to the summit cairn with ever-improving views. On the way to the car park you'll drive past both a cafe and Croft 36. The latter is a charming honesty shop selling pies and other treats, and the perfect place to stock up on supplies for your walk.


Name: Walk: Ceapabhal - on the edge of it all ★★★★☆
Length: 7 km / 4 miles
Ascent: 380 metres
Main summits: Ceapabhal (368 metr…

Seallam! Visitor Centre

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Seallam! is the main museum for the Isle of Harris, situated on the main road into Leverburgh at the south end of the island. It's a valuable indoor attraction on an island where there's not a huge amount to do when the heavens open. Displays are housed in a single room (there's also a large gift shop) and relate both to Harris and St Kilda life. On our visit, there was a particular focus on the lives of individual people who live or used to live on these islands, with genealogical research another key theme. Unfortunately taking photographs isn't permitted due to restrictions placed by owners of some of the exhibits.


Name: Seallam! Visitor Centre★★☆☆☆
Location: A859 3 miles north-west of Leverburgh, G.R.: NF 995894 ///happening.freely.expiring
Open (2018): Weekdays in summer; Wednesday to Friday in winter (transition date between these periods unknown)
Cost (2018): £3 (adults), £2.50 (children)

Hirta, St Kilda

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Hirta is the largest, most hospitable island of the St Kilda archipelago, and the only one you can set foot on during tours from civilisation, i.e., the rest of Scotland. It's several decades since the last Hiortans were evacuated in 1930 after years of decreasing self-sufficiency and increasing contact with a more comfortable outside world, and the island's since been left frozen in time. Or has it? Views of the fascinating old village (Am Baile) are interrupted by the incongruous presence of a missile tracking station belonging to the Ministry of Defence; meanwhile, the National Trust for Scotland has been gentrifying parts of Main Street, restoring cottages and the cleits which dot the island (stone stores built for preserving eggs, fish and other supplies). It doesn't mar the overall atmosphere; in fact, it creates a surreal mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary, and you'll appreciate such luxuries as a flushing toilet and small shop. Most of the rest of the i…