Sometimes you stumble across places that not only amaze you while you’re there, but linger in your memory in the weeks and months afterwards.
The site had opened only weeks before our visit and we took a gamble going, but I now feel so incredibly lucky to have been one of the first people to have stayed at this wonderful spot…
Huisinis Beach is in a beautiful, calm bay set on the isolated and rugged west coast of Harris. It’s long been popular visitors and wild campers, especially during summer. Local crofters were getting increasingly frustrated with bins overflowing, damage to the precious local ecosystem and the area’s narrow roads getting blocked by camper vans and the like.
Instead of getting angry or shooing tourists away, the North Harris Trust commissioned a study, installed a couple of wind turbines to generate electricity (and raise capital) and last year a modern, powered, free camping ground and associated facilities were built for visitors.
We arrived in the middle night, so after parking up we went to bed, falling asleep to the sound of the ocean. The following morning we awoke to a pastel sunrise, deserted beach and the bellow of Highland Cattle.
It’s a short drive (or walk) then from the camp site to the ‘gateway’ – a striking timber building overlooking the water.
Inside are modern bathrooms (showers are coin operated), an enclosed seating area, recycling and rubbish bins and lots of information about the beach and surrounding area. Being November we had the site all to ourselves.
Adam and I luxuriated in a warm shower, ate a bountiful breakfast of porridge, pastries and coffee in the meagre sunshine, wandered along the beach and got to know some of the local residents ;).
I couldn’t believe this beautiful community asset was essentially free for us to use. It truly felt too good to be true. The North Harris Trust asks for a donation and we were more than happy to oblige. It was such a positive experience and I hope others use the Huisinis Gateway as an example of how tourism, nature and local residents can work together to deliver a facility that benefits all.
If you ever find yourself in the Outer Hebrides, go and visit Huisinis. Not only will the beach blow you away, so too will the community spirit that helped build this unique accommodation option.
Have a safe and happy Easter. x
2021 addendum: If wild camping sounds like your sort of activity, then fellow blogger Alex has written a very comprehensive guide over on his blog Just Go Exploring. Alex has got some great tips and really useful recommendations. Definitely worth a read if you’re planning to wild camp around Scotland.