where to eat on the isle of Harris

I have been visiting the Isle of Harris for years but only this year discovered an amazing little place called Croft36. Tucked away on a side road off the main road to Leverburgh, just follow the sign for “Pie Shop”

Croft36 is essentially a small shack at the side of the road fitted out with baskets, a hot oven for warming food and a soup kettle where you can help yourself to hot, homemade soup. Inside the baskets are a variety of freshly made pies, pastries and drinks and you just use the honesty box. One thing to remember is to go fairly early as the baskets empty fairly swiftly by lunchtime!

Everything is made fresh every morning and they specialise in using Hebridean produce. Croft36 are committed to providing fresh produce to locals as well as tourists and also promoting local fishermen.

As well as the food on sale in the shack, you can also order hot meals in advance. Delivery to your self catering accomodation or camper van!

I just love the simplicity and the ethos of Croft36 but along with that I was also massively impressed by the taste. As an pastry chef in another life, I love good food and Croft36 hits the mark every time. This is down to earth, good honest food from people who really know how to cook.

On my last visit, I decided to try the delivery option as I knew I would be out shooting all day and be coming back to the accommodation tired and hungry and not really wanting to start cooking. So we ordered a selection : Beef bourguinon, mussels and crab raviloli. The food arrived on time, hot and delicious. I will admit to have been too busy digging in to remember to take photos of it first though!

I saw that croft36 was recently described on trip advisor as ” the find of 2017″… I am inclined to agree.

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The road is getting smaller and more remote. On one side a few traditional cottages and on the other small boats lying sporadically in the calm blue waters.

I keep stopping to take pictures of one stunning landscape after another; I am totally in awe of the rugged, perfectly lit scenes that greet me around each twist and turn. I love the fact that Harris has so many unique landscapes that are wild, unspoilt and for the most part barely inhabited.

I’m heading towards a pop up shop in Borrisdale, which I was told about whilst at Talla Na Mara this morning. Borrisdale is a tiny hamlet and there are no signs to tell me where I am going, this is probably why I have the road to myself.  I was simply told to head towards the Sound of Harris accommodation. As I arrive into Borrisdale, there is only one place the pop up shop can be. On the cliff top, close to Renish Point sits a stunning building, this has to be it there is no other option.

As I approach the gates are closed, but only to keep the resident sheep out. I meet with Rob English, owner of the Sound of Harris accommodation and the pop up tweed shop and go in to have a look at this tiny but beautifully laid out shop.

Carol Graham and Rob English were awarded the 2016 Outer Hebrides Design Award for the development of their new textiles business and pop-up shop. The couple have sourced a new Griffith double width loom and warping mill to enable them to operate as independent Harris Tweed weavers.  Until their own weaving comes on stream, products are being offered in single width tweed from local independent weavers (Toabh Tuath and Luskentyre), with many designs being exclusively commissioned.

Having just moved home, and in the throws of decorating, I have been looking for cushions and throws, so I’m in heaven. I choose tweed, which is soft beige and leave the pop up shop with a smile and some sumptuous cushions. I realise that it looks strikingly like sand, which might explain the reason I love it so much. I’m going to order a tweed sea blue bed throw that compliments the Harris photo’s that adorn my walls and then my Harris sea bedroom will be complete.

If you are in Harris it’s worth a trip out to Borrisdale. If you are confused as to where to go here are some directions;
Travel all the way south of Harris following the main road which goes towards Rodel. Turn right at Leverburgh, heading towards the ferry and the Anchorage Restaurant but before you get there, there is a left turn signed towards Borrisdale. Turn left and keep going till you get into Borrisdale you will see the stunning property on your right hand side. Happy travels!

www.borrisdale.co.uk

@Borrisdale (Twitter, Facebook)

01859 520208

Open daily Mon-Sat 10-6pm

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I had just pulled up and was unpacking my gear at Scarista beach, Isle of Harris last week when I heard someone shout ”Margaret”. Coincidentally, Mo Thomson from MoThomson Digital media happened to have had the same idea and was getting ready to fly his drone. Scarista was looking suitably moody with gorgeous changeable light – from sunshine to threatening rain within minutes. The perfect conditions to for me to photograph in. What were the chances of us randomly meeting up on a deserted beach on the Outer Hebrides and producing this amazing footage of me working. Watch the video below to see the beauty of Scarista.

 

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Nestled in the wild landscape of the North West Highlands, just an hour down the road from my new home is Inverlochy Castle.

I had a magnificent stay during an unseasonably warm few days in March this year. The awe-inspiring backdrop of Ben Nevis just behind the 19th century castle makes for a very impressive morning view that invites you to relax and enjoy.

Driving through the carefully manicured gardens to the statuesque castle you arrive at a huge archway and quickly realise that everything is going to be handled for you in the most unassuming manner. My luggage was swiftly removed from the car and the car parked before I could even think about it. I immediately felt welcome and that I belonged here.

Amongst my favourite experiences during my stay at Inverlochy was my bathroom.

I soothed all my aches, pains and troubles away in the most amazing relaxing bath while I marveled in the tastefully chosen décor of the impressively large bathroom. I have never felt the need to take so many baths in such a short period of time; it was the most magical room.

The other outstanding experience was most definitely the mouthwatering food. The model Roux 5 star restaurant serves a 6 course-tasting menu, which changes every night. Each of the 6 courses was a show stopping delight.

The handmade Mallaig Lobster and brown shrimp ravioli with celeriac, apple and sauce bisque started off the procession of delights, which just kept coming, each one a sensory marvel between taste, touch, smell, and vision. The heavenly descriptions from the server completed the sensory tour and enhanced the overall experience of each of these dishes.

After rising early the first morning I opened my curtains to the most perfect landscape photography weather. A low rolling mist clinging onto the distant mountains, the morning sun just starting to rise in the clear sky and a perfect reflection in the loch close to the gardens. I had to capture it.

Knowing time was limited before this picturesque view would be lost forever, I did a mad dash downstairs to try and get out on the water before the wind picked up and all was lost. I quickly untied the hotel’s little rowing boat from its boat shed and paddled out onto the still water.

The reflection of the castle appeared just as the last wisps of low-lying mist on the water began to lift while the sun rose above. Ben Nevis framed the castle perfectly in the background. The unflawed light, composition, timing and improvised boating abilities allowed me to capture that perfect moment before it disappeared forever.

I loved every magical second I spent at the castle and will definitely return!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last week I returned home from Swaziland and was horrified when the pilot announced it would be 2 degrees on landing in London. My hopes for good weather for my weekend ahead were further dashed when I got back to Scotland and it was snowing.

My trip had been meticulously planned months ago – a finely tuned schedule between photography assignments on different islands. Incredibly, on my departure from my home town of Drumnadrochit the sun began to shine and soon I began to feel quite warm in the fleece I had decided to wear that day. It was just the start of several days of clear skies and warmth which amounted to 17 degrees and even a bit of sunbathing on the beaches of Morar.

After a beautiful shoot at the standing stones at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis I headed via the stunning beaches of Harris towards my ferry southwards. It would have been a crime not to have stopped and taken a shot at this viewpoint on Harris overlooking Luskentyre beach.

The Calendonion MacBrayne ferry leaves from Tarbert on the Isle of Harris and crosses over to Uig on the Isle of Skye in about 1 hour and 40 mins. With 15 mins to spare before leaving, I nipped out from the ferry queue and managed a quick purchase of a gorgeous Harris tweed coat in the nearby Harris Tweed shop. I dislike like shopping as a rule, but for Harris tweed I can usually make an exception.

I was aiming for catching the evening ferry onwards from Skye to Mallaig that evening but with no particular need to get there quickly and a promising evening for photography on Skye, I decided to stop for the night. The beauty of having a travelling home…

The next morning I got up early, about 5am to the most beautiful, still early morning on the Isle of Skye. Finding a little bay all to myself is my idea of heaven. The sounds of birds and grasshoppers was so clear I had to incorporate it into the little video I made from my journey.

And so finally onto the ferry from Armadale which is in the South of the Isle of Skye and crosses over to Mallaig. It’s a quick way over to the other side for me and an alternative to driving all the way round. Plus, on a day like yesterday, it’s just a real treat to sit back and enjoy the calm waters and sunshine.

Next stop was the silver sands of Morar, known being the setting for the film Local Hero. This is a stretch of mostly connected white sandy beaches with turquoise clear seas along the coastline between Morar and Arisaig.  On a clear sunny day you can feel more like you are on a caribbean island than the west coast of Scotland! I was only due to be in Morar for a small wedding shoot during the day but the weather tempted me to stay one more night, enjoy a fabulous sunset, a rather nice day on the beach and one of the coldest dips in the sea I have had in a while.

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Great result at the Scottish Master Photographers awards in Dunkeld at the end of Feb. I won the Monochrome award, Overall general photographer of the year as well as the main title of Scottish Photographer of the Year 2017.

The best part is that I won these awards with my travel work from India and Loch Ness.

My travel & landscape photography is my real passion in life. I am so driven by it that I spend every spare minute I have working by choice. I choose to spend a lifetime on ferries, freezing cold sitting outside waiting for night timelapses that often fail to produce a decent images, I get up at unearthly hours when the forecast looks good and I spend days alone in my van waiting for the right conditions. It is what makes me feel alive and fulfilled. So when it gets recognised, it’s twice as brilliant for me:-)

Here are the winning images;

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I was delighted to find out that my image of a snowy Loch Ness received a commended award in 2016 Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year. I was out photographing in the midst of a snow storm in Feb 2016 and shot this image just after the snow had stopped. You can see from the way the snow is still lying on the branches how recent it was. It pays to stay out even when it looks like a total white out!

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