Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

...and here's the final Scotland postcard from Andy. This one shows Barra on the Outer Hebrides.

Kisimul Castle dominates Castlebay, the main settlement of Barra. The most southerly of the Outer Hebrides, Barra is a very attractive island which has been aptly described as the "Hebrides in Miniature". The vessel MV "Lord of the Isles" provides the daily ro-ro link with Oban.

The 2001 census showed that the resident population was 1,078. The area of Barra is roughly 60 square kilometres, the main village being Castlebay (Bàgh a' Chaisteil). Barra is now linked by a man-made causeway to the neighbouring island of Vatersay (Eilean Bhatarsaigh). The Isle of Barra is a predominantly Gaelic-speaking island.

The west of the island has white sandy beaches backed by shell-sand machair and the east has numerous rocky inlets. Barra is abundant with stunning scenery, rare flowers and wildlife, which can be appreciated by coastal or hill walks, drives or cycle rides along the various small roads. Car and bicycle hire are available locally.

Uniquely in Europe, Barra's tiny airport, near Northbay, uses the beach called An Tràigh Mhòr (English: The Big Beach) as a runway. Planes can only land and take off at low tide meaning that the timetable varies. Barra's airport is the only airport in the world to have scheduled flights landing on a beach. The aircraft currently in operation on Barra is the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, flown by Loganair on services to Glasgow and Benbecula from where connections to Stornoway are also available. There are no flights on Sundays.

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