These photos were taken in the Vanoise National Park, just outside of Val d’Isère.
The hamlet of Ecot near Bonneval overlooks the gorges of the river Arc. There are several very old stone houses and one chapel in the village. There were also some newer homes being built in the same stone and wood style. After digging around on the web I discovered that Nicolas Vanier filmed the movie Belle and Sèbastien in the village and surrounding area.
After 24 hours of sensory overload in Edinburgh we were on the road again. We were destined for Snowdonia National Park but wanted to spend one last night in Scotland. After doing a bit of research, I found us a spot at Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve, a National Trust site. Just a simple dirt parking lot at the base of a waterfall with some great hiking trails. It was a popular spot but we didn’t mind. The weather was (mostly) good and compared to the noise of the city it was like being on a deserted island!
Looking back at the photos from this part of the journey I realized that I took my camera out on only one occasion. It was a memorable one though.
We were parked at Hushinish, a remote settlement of only four houses on the west coast of Harris. Gale force winds blasted our position high on the hillside for the better part of 24 hours. It was bad enough that, in the middle of the night, the couple parked next to us had to reposition their motorhome so they could get some sleep. The next morning, the coastline was heaving and frothing white. I wanted to capture this Hebridean drama, so I pulled on some rain gear and headed out with my camera. I got a few strange looks from the locals as I leaned into the wind and made my way down to the water. This is summer in Scotland.
We spent our first night on Barra at a campsite close to the ferry terminal. It was late and we had a pile of wet clothing that needed to be dried. That’s a long story but what it comes down to is that doing laundry can be a pain when you’re living in a van. It does however make you appreciate the simple things like clean clothes and hot showers! The next morning we drove up island towards Barra airport where planes land on the beach and flight times are dependent on the tides. Island life at its finest! Further up the road we found a spot to camp next to the ocean. We spent the night without any troubles but the next evening the land owner asked us to leave. It wasn’t at all obvious to us that it was private land but we learned our lesson to always ask around for permission. It was great while it lasted though, definitely in our top five favourite spots.
Clachan Sands camping area is a small piece of paradise on North Uist. It sits between two long beaches that seem to stretch on forever. We camped on the machair just above the rocky shoreline. The dunes behind the beach provided some shelter from the wind and gave the place a cozy feeling. No signs of civilization could be seen and it was very quiet with only one other party camped there on the second night. I was really hoping to watch the lunar eclipse but the weather just didn’t cooperate. It was an incredibly relaxing experience nonetheless.
The ferry from Oban to Castlebay takes about five hours. We would have preferred to stay in the camper for the journey but maritime safety regulations don’t allow for that. So up we went to the passenger decks, which had a very familiar B.C. Ferries vibe to them. We spent most of our time on the outside decks as the designated pet areas were quite stuffy and poorly ventilated. Once we had sailed through the Sound of Mull and past the Small Isles the horizon began to blend into the low cloud and a strange feeling of being lost at sea set in.
The sands of North Uist were shifting under our feet. Harsh winds propelled crystal clear water left behind by the receding tide. Kaleidoscopic sculptures emerged, sparkling under shimmering pools. In the Outer Hebrides these forces of nature are always at work, constantly eroding the landscape. And if you stand in one spot long enough, you can actually watch it happen.