I awoke to the sound of another blustery morning. Nestled beneath the warmth of my bed covers, I could discern the relentless drumming of rain against the bedroom window. Outside, darkness still prevailed. The bedroom’s westward-facing window supposedly offered a view of the sea, and the weather, audibly racing in from the Atlantic Ocean, painted a vivid picture in my mind.
With the Isle of Harris on my agenda for the day, my plan was to explore the southern beaches of Seilebost—Traigh Niosaboist, Traigh Iar, Traigh Mor, Traigh Scarasta (for the eagle-eyed among you, ‘traigh’ is Gaelic for beach!)—and gradually make my way down to Northton for some leisurely exploration.
In the dimly lit room, I fumbled for my phone on the bedside cabinet. As soon as I moved it, the screen burst into life, forcing me to squint against its sudden brightness. After navigating to my most trusted weather app, I scrolled through the day’s forecast. The hourly predictions granted me an additional 10 minutes of repose in bed. The weather promised high winds of approximately 60 mph, accompanied by sporadic clouds and rain showers. An intriguing day lay ahead if the forecast held true.
Reluctantly, I emerged from the cosy embrace of the bed, donned my attire, and meandered into the kitchen. True to the norm for such excursions, the kitchen table was strewn with an array of battery chargers, drone components, GoPro cameras, and lenses meticulously cleaned the prior evening to rid them of wind-blown grit. I brewed a pot of tea, settled at the cluttered table, and consulted the OS Map on my tablet to chart out a plan.
Daylight gradually seeped through the overcast sky, signalling the futility of haste, as a spectacular sunrise was not on the cards and, truth be told, I was already a tad late for that. I organized the chaos on the kitchen table, stashing away most of the gear and reserving the battery chargers for later use—no need to overdo it—before securing everything in its designated bag in the car’s boot. The pot of Yorkshire Tea dwindled slowly as I contemplated my southern journey.
The gravel of the driveway crunched and rattled beneath the tyres as I departed, veering left onto the A857, embarking on a southward journey through Barvas, settling in for a 1-hour and 15-minute drive. Progressing southward, the weather displayed signs of improvement, with intermittent bright patches punctuating the persistent downpour—though the wind continued its boisterous dance.
Passing through Tarbert, I continued my journey southward, the car ascending higher up the steep hill, offering a commanding view of the harbour below. The road, a well-paced stretch winding around the hills at a high level toward Seilebost, allowed for swift progress. As I descended steadily toward the minor road junction leading to Luskentyre, I grappled with the decision of whether to make a stop there or not. Having lost count of my visits, I pondered the potential for capturing anything new. I do not subscribe to the ‘been there, shot that!‘ mentality, and willingly acknowledge that conditions evolve, and coastal landscapes, in particular, undergo changes influenced by the sea and wind which lead it being different every time.
Approaching the junction, I slowed down, indicating a right turn onto the single-track road leading to the car park at Traigh Rosamol. Despite the risk of being labelled a pedant, I couldn’t help but consider the misnaming of the beach on social media platforms — many images titled ‘Luskentyre Beach’ when they were, in fact, of Rosamol Beach. Luskentyre Beach lay farther back along the road from the car park and public toilets at Rosamol.
Continuing along the track, I approached the end and crested the final undulation in the road, only to be taken aback by the multitude of camper vans scattered haphazardly across the car park. There must have been over a dozen! My heart sank at the realization that the beach would likely be bustling with activity, making photography a challenging endeavour without including unintended subjects in the shots. After parking, I turned off the engine and sat for a moment, contemplating whether it was worth the effort to unpack my camera gear. Ultimately, I settled on the age-old philosophical adage, “You’re here now, so what is there to lose?“
I retrieved my camera bag and tripod from the car boot, hoisting the weighty pack onto my shoulders. Trudging through the dunes to the seashore, I was met with the full force of the wind as I ascended the final dune. Taken aback by the gritty blast, I found myself squinting tightly, reminiscent of Clint Eastwood in one of his ‘Spaghetti Westerns’, to shield my eyes from the scouring beach sand. The gusts of wind were lifting small ridges of sand and depositing them higher up the beach, creating a fascinating, continuously moving spectacle until one of the numerous dogs running joyously on the beach disrupted the moment by leaving a deep paw-print on the delicate formations.
Attempting to capture some long exposure shots of the waves breaking on the foreshore proved challenging. Despite my efforts to anchor the tripod firmly into the sand, the relentless wind buffeted the camera, softening the edges of the images – a futile task. Observing the lively scene—small dogs in full sprint, crowds of people, toddlers wobbling about with exuberant shrieks, large dogs squatting and shitting everywhere—I decided to give it another 10 minutes before retreating to the car in search of a less bustling locale, and something more serene than the Blackpool-esque atmosphere surrounding me.
As I stood there, hands thrust deep into my pockets, back turned against the wind, a sudden rainstorm swept through, prompting many to scatter and seek refuge in their vehicles—an unexpected relief. Well-acquainted with standing through hours of rain or hail, I held my ground, remaining alert to the shifting conditions. Fortunately, as the storm passed and a radiant patch of sunshine emerged, we were treated to a magnificent, full double rainbow gracefully arching above the moody Sound of Taransay. A fleeting delight!
After a mere 20 seconds, the bright patch dissipated, and so did the rainbow, closely followed by my enthusiasm for navigating through crowds of people and playful dogs. I sighed. Rolling my eyes I slung the camera bag onto my back, shouldered the tripod and camera, and strolled briskly back to the car. Making a mental note that I was now ‘done’ with Luskentyre, even though I was actually stood on Rosamol Beach. I pondered whether it was a victim of its own natural beauty or perhaps a casualty of overexposure on Instagram. I did know, however, and making a point of my own exceptionalism, that it would be a long time until I visit it again as this is one location where I now do subscribe to the “Been there, shot that!” mentality.