A couple of miles north of Tarbert on the main road that runs the length of Harris is a junction signposted west to Huisinis on the B887. If you have the time, this single track road is your gateway to one of the most glorious 15 miles of scenery anywhere in Scotland.
The road first passes through the scattered settlement Bunabhainneadar with the brick tower of the whaling station on the shore below. Prominent in views to the south is the island of Taransay, abandoned as unsustainable by its remaining population in 1942. Slightly more recently it achieved fame as home in 2000 to a group of people as part of the TV programme "Castaway".
The next surprise en route to Huisinis is the biggest. About ten miles along the road, it mounts a rise and passes through a set of gates, and suddenly you find yourself in the front garden of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle. This was built in 1864-7 for the 7th Earl of Dunmore, whose family had brought Harris in the 1830s. The castle and the surrounding estate can now be hired for events or as rather special accommodation. The B887 runs right past the front door of the castle before rounding the end of Loch Leosavay and continuing west.
Journey's end, for most, is the car park at the east end of the stunning white beach at Huisinis. This is a truly sublime spot, somewhere to watch the waves breaking or to explore the beach and the surrounding rocks. Huisinis itself is a small collection of cottages and crofts at the west end of the beach, and you approach either along the beach or along the road behind it.
Huisinis lies at the far end of a neck of land leading to Huisinis Head, and if you climb the grassy slopes to the north you realise that Amhuinnsuidhe Castle is not quite the final surprise in store on this wonderful journey. Facing you across the half mile wide Sound of Scarp is the island of Scarp. By 1881 clearance elsewhere meant there were 213 people surviving on this beautiful but barren island. But the population fell through the 1900s; the school closed in 1967; the post office in 1969; and the last two permanently resident families left on 2 December 1971. Now the only residents are those renting the holiday accommodation available on Scarp. This is accessed from a pier on the north side of the neck of land at Huisinis.
Scarp is now best known for a failed attempt to improve the poor inter-island communications that contributed to its demise. On 28 July 1934, the German rocket scientist Gerhard Zucker launched a 14kg solid fuel rocket carrying mail from Huisinis towards its intended destination on Scarp, including a letter written to mark the occasion by the King. Unfortunately the rocket exploded on launch. The scattered and singed mail was collected by the Harris postmaster, marked to record it had been "Damaged by explosion at Scarp, Harris", and delivered by more conventional means. A later rocket fired from Scarp to Huisinis was successful, but the idea never caught on.
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