Western Edge

The edge of the west

Route length: 353 miles

The Outer Hebrides represent one of the far flung frontiers of the Celtic missionary travellers. Seeking ‘a place of resurrection’ these intrepid and determined individuals were prepared to follow literally the Gospel command to go to the ends of the earth. Each part of the Journey has a different character. Skye is mountainous and massive, like an extension of the mainland. The outer isles, like some coastal areas of Skye, have been well populated since prehistory and contain a wealth of early remains.. Keep your eyes open for seals, otters, eagles, dolphins and deer. All of these creatures feature in early Celtic art, not least the intricately illuminated manuscripts created by the monks.

The Western Isles are undoubtedly islands, and the sea is ever present. Yet there are also significant differences between Lewis and Harris even though they are physically joined. Likewise North and South Uist are very different, with the trend as one travels south being towards a gentler terrain and the even closer sough of the sea. In some ways prehistory is more present here than the early Christian era with its numerous chapels and beehive cells, many of which have now succumbed to sand and sea. The first wooden churches are long gone. The instinct to memorialise the landscape continues in the contemporary period with striking stone monuments commemorating the struggle to regain some share of the land after the clearances of island populations in the nineteenth century, and rural depopulation in the twentieth.

Pilgrim Journeys