Harris Attractions Na Hearadh
The A859 heads southwest from Stornaway to Tarbert, Harris' main town (pop. 500). Ferries arrive here from Uig (Skye) and also from the Western Isles further south.
Tarbert & Clisham, Scotland
Sound of Taransay
The A859 continues south before returning to the wild western coast and passing the idyllic sandy beaches which overlook the Sound of Taransay. Scarp, an island off Hushinish Point, was the scene of a bizarre experiment in 1934. A German by the name of Zucker attempted to convey the island's post to Harris in a home-made rocket. The prototype exploded on landing and further experiments were abandoned.
The Harris island sheep - usually a crossbreed of Blackface and Cheviot - graze outside throughout the year. Colored brands on the fleece or cuts in the ear indicate the owner. Ewes and castrated rams are allowed to roam free, but other rams are not allowed to mingle with the ewes until the second half of November so that the lambs are born after the winter storms. Shearing begins in the middle of summer and the shearers must follow the guidelines of the wool board.All fleeces that are not sold to buyers from the mainland are kept on the island for the production of the famous Harris tweed (from the French "toile" meaning "cloth").Until the mid-19th C tweed (or "clo mhor" meaning "large cloth") as the Gaelic-speaking Hebrideans call it) was produced in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of the local people but, during the famine of 1840, Lady Dunmore who owned large parts of Harris succeeded in interesting the Victorian gentry in tweed and it soon became the fashion among sporting men and women. The first tweed mill opened on Harris in 1900. Some 20 years later the wooden loom was replaced by the iron Hattersley model which is still widely used today.The co-ordination of colors (created mainly by plant dyes made from mosses), carding and spinning are all under the control of the Harris Tweed Authority which has held the marketing right since 1930. Almost 75% of the hard-wearing material is exported. For a garment to show the coveted Harris tweed symbol of a globe and Maltese Cross, wool from Scottish sheep must be used and the material must be handwoven by islanders.
The hamlet of Rodel lies at the southernmost point of Harris and the tiny St Clement chapel which was built c 1500 and restored in the 18th century is certainly worth a visit. The remains of Alasdair Crotach, one of the famous MacLeods, lie beneath a splendid black slate stone. He commissioned the gravestone in 1528, 19 years before his death.