26 September 2009
I glimpsed through the Daily Mail this morning and noticed a piece about 4-day taster trips to Scotland which includes tours of the Scottish islands of Harris and Lewis. Donald John Mackay gets a bit of publicity – the place to go, they enthuse, to stock up on the very fashionable Harris Tweed.
To get to Luskentyre if you’re in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, drive out of the town on the A859 passing through Leurbost, Ardvourlie, past Clisham the tallest mountain on Harris and to Tarbert the capital of Harris.
Continue along the A859 out of Tarbert until you get to the turning to Luskentyre marked by a bus shelter, often inhabited by sheep trying to keep their coats dry in a Hebridean gale. Turn right and drive off the beaten track. It’s a single track road with passing places and breathtaking views of the Island of Taransay across the Sound of Tansay. En route you’ll pass a ‘pod’, one of the houses the Castaways lived in whilst doing their year on Taransay for the BBC1 programme, Castaway, in 2000 (which featured Ben Fogle) and now re-planted on land in Luskentyre. Keep going past the site of Morag’s late corrugated shed and you’ll arrive at Donald John’s shed where he makes his Harris Tweed.
On the final episode of BBC4’s ‘Tweed’ this week, to be repeated tomorrow Sunday 27 September, I think it was Patrick Grant tailor of Savile Row, who said he couldn’t find a Harris Tweed jacket anywhere in Harris. I got confused. The programme makers were actually showing places on the Isle of Lewis. I’m not surprised there was no sign of a Harris Tweed jacket there. You only have to drive down from Lewis to Harris and all becomes clear.
The late Katie Campbell from Plockrapol was a big name in Harris Tweed.
The ‘Tweed’ programme makers only had to take a diversion off the A859 in Harris, on to the Golden Road which winds it way round the rocky east coast of the island and they could have feasted their eyes on Harris Tweed in all shapes and forms – jackets, hats, throws…fabulous colours, some now woven by her daughter who produces Harris Tweed in all colours of the rainbow.