In the course of researching routes for the forthcoming Cicerone guide to walking in the Hebrides, Peter Edwards reckons he has visited some of the very finest beaches on the planet:
‘During the spell of fine weather at the end of May, I was out and about walking on the isle of Harris for a week. While following a route featured in Richard Barrett’s Walking on Harris and Lewis (Walk 15, Huiseabhal Mòr, Oirebhal and Huisebhal Beag) I visited Tràig Mheilein, which in my view is probably the best beach in the world!
This expansive crescent of dune-backed white sand is lapped by a sparkling sapphire sea and looks onto the virtually uninhabited (save a couple of holiday homes) isle of Scarp.
From a peak of 213 in 1881, the population of the isle of Scarp declined until the last permanent inhabitants quit the island in 1971. In July 1934, Scarp was the site of an experiment by German inventor Gerhard Zucker in which he made two unsuccessful attempts to deliver the island’s post by means of rocket mail between Scarp and Harris.
Although a successful launch was achieved, the rocket exploded destroying or damaging most of its cargo. In 2007, The Rocket Post, a heavily fictionalised, romanticised, but nonetheless very enjoyable film based on these events was actually filmed on Taransay.
It was a lovely day when we visited and the urge for a swim could not be denied,despite the ‘fresh’ temperature of the sea. Our labrador, Dougal, didn’t seem to feel the cold and swam around for ages, only reluctantly leaving the water when we continued on our walk.’