Kilbride Campsite on South Uist

Having had such a rude awakening to catch our early ferry and still suffering from the injustice of waking by alarm clock, we took advantage of yet another unbelievably beautiful place to pull off the road and have breakfast.  There’s nothing quite like having a bowl of muesli looking out across a postcard vista of a clear turquoise sea lapping gently at a white shell sand beach.

OS Map of the Outer Hebrides showing Eriskay and South Uist
Crossing the causeway, we looked across to the left and across the bay could see our next destination at Kilbride campsite at Cille Bhrighde on South Uist.

At this stage we hadn’t broken the old habit of thinking we needed to be on a campsite every night, so we had already phoned ahead in advance and booked a pitch for a couple of nights at Kilbride campsite after reading the good reviews online.  It wasn’t far from the South Uist end of the Eriskay causeway and we could make out the low white buildings even as we were crossing Caclas Eirisgeigh.   The broken yellow lines of the roads on the map look like they might be a bit dodgy, but were actually much better than many of the roads at home, decent tarmacced surfaces and absolutely no problem at all for our motorhome.

What To Do On a Rainy Day In a Motorhome

The friendly owner DJ was like a whirling dervish, intent on making sure that everyone was happy and pointing out where our pitch was on arrival, which turned out to be a prime spot, with a decent view and close to the utility block and within reach of the wifi signal (if you stood and held your device aloft at arms length.)

DJ told us that he hadn’t got a campsite reception and that he hadn’t really got a proper system sorted yet for letting people know where to pitch, so he was using wooden blocks with bits of paper attached with campers’ names on.  This meant that new arrivals usually had to wander round the site looking for their allotted space.  This game of hunt the pitch was fine when the sun was shining, but during our short stay the rain came down in sheets and it became a bit of a spectator sport watching poor DJ running round with his wooden blocks and new arrivals searching the soggy name tags on the pitches to find their spot.

Pitch Perfect

We were chatting to DJ later and he was keen to improve his site and know how other sites organise things.  We suggested that he permanently numbered the pitches and had a white board in the porch of the utility block with names against pitch numbers.  I wonder if he might change his system for next year?  If anyone has any better ideas, I’m sure he’d be pleased to hear from you.

Photograph of Kilbride cafe on South Uist
Kilbride cafe is just by the entrance to the campsite and across the road another lovely beach. Note the couple of classic cars which must have been a joy on these fabulous roads. Just look at those bends. Vrooom!

There are several good things I can easily say about this campsite, apart from the level well spaced hard standing pitches.  There is a really good modern utility block, with spacious free hot showers and a really well equipped kitchen, with fridge, freezer, toaster, kettle, microwave and a washer and dryer with an honesty box.  It’s a thoughtfully equipped site which is particularly good for the many walkers and cyclists we saw who were camping there.

Directly across the road from Kilbride Campsite is a beach where huge rocks that look like they’ve tumbled down from the sky are the backdrop to the sandy beach.  Right next door to the campsite and looking out across the beach is the Kilbride Cafe, which has free wifi and probably the best egg and black pudding in a bun I’ve ever tasted on the Outer Hebrides.  Actually it was the only egg and black pudding in a bun I had on the Western Isles, but it was still exceedingly good.  Sadly I don’t have a photograph of this, or the facility for scratch and sniff, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

Photo of Kilbride Campsite and Kilbride Cafe
Our little motorhome is parked handily close to the utility block, which was useful when the rain started to come down in buckets. We were also one of the few vans able to pick up wifi from our van too.

On site, the owner DJ is also building a backpackers hostel, which judging by the facilities he has built so far, will probably be a well equipped place to stay if you’re not accompanied by your mobile home, or you’re looking for shelter from the weather and can’t stand another night sleeping on the ground in a soggy flapping tent.

Getting Crafty in a Motorhome

There’s a temptation when you’re touring in the motorhome to feel you have to visit somewhere or somehow achieve something every day.  The rain falling down outside gave us the perfect excuse to do absolutely nothing and chill out for a day.  We got the guitar and ukulele out and had a little strum and then got crafty.

A hand loom
A tiny handloom I made from cellotaping two bits of cereal packet together, cutting zigzag slots and then winding wool round for the weft… or is that the warp? Then I used a daring needle to weave the wool.

Inspired by all the textiles and art and craft that are abundant on the Western Isles that I was starting to see, including the excellent Hebridean Woolshed next door to Kilbride, I decided to try my hand at weaving, so I made a little loom from some bits of cereal packet cellotaped together.  Luckily I had some wool in the van (as you do) which was reminiscent of the sea and skycapes that were all around us.   The finished result isn’t going to win any prizes and it hasn’t got any function, but it was a perfectly relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

Red Carpet Entrance

Apparently in the 6th century an intrepid female adventurer, St Bride, landed here in her boat from far off lands.   She must have been a right sight, as according to folk lore she made a proper entrance, stepping from her boat with an Oyster Catcher (Gille Bhrighde which means servant of the bride) on each wrist.

I imagine she must have been a bit wobbly as she got out of the boat no hands, what with having to keep the Oyster Catchers balanced on her arms and probably feeling a bit sea sick from her journey, while trying to look graceful and all pleased to be there at the same time.  I reckon it must have been the medieval equivalent of a red carpet moment, with bling covered arms right there on that little beach opposite Kilbride campsite.

When I say she came from far off lands, I think it was reputedly Ireland, which isn’t actually that far when you look on your AA road map, but to be fair the boat probably wasn’t exactly a CalMac ferry and the poor woman was taking a risk setting sail at all in 7 hundred and something.

Anyway, the good news is that she was well rewarded for her efforts as the nearby chapel was named after her.  In Gaelic, Cille Bhrighde (St Bride) and in Scots, its current name ‘Kilbride’.  I wondered too if after the excitement of her grand entrance, St Bride whiled away a rainy afternoon or two here too, weaving on her handloom, while planning her next adventure.

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8 thoughts on “Kilbride Campsite on South Uist

  1. Brilliant Cuz!
    We read your latest blog sitting in our Jucy Chaser on Miranda Hot Springs Campsite after being cooked and sulphurised in the site pool! 😆 (as you do 😉) xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear partner to Pete (maybe your name slipped by in the text),

    Thanks for making me chuckle.

    I spent 4 nights at this campsite in June this year (left on midsummer’s day). The daytime weather was mostly good but at night the wind blew and the rain fell. So glad I’d arranged a caravan in advance (I’d been in a tent on Lewis and North Uist for 9 days beforehand), a curious but cosy thing on two wheels from Orasay View Camping Caravans. I too missed a Reception area and DJ found me in the café asking the waitress/cashier how to find him. Your idea about how to find your camping spot would be a great advance on DJ’s present method.

    The campsite grew on me during my stay, but the café is a gem. In fact so good that I used it twice a day, and had to make sure I got back in time to have a bite before it closed. The proximity to Eriskay and the ferry to Barra is a big plus.

    Funnily enough I never made it down to the beach … oh well, next time.

    Enjoy your blogs, and keep knitting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David, thanks very much for taking the time to comment and for your encouragement, I’m glad you enjoyed my account.
      The Kilbride cafe would certainly be a haven in a storm on a bad day, I think they’d do very well if they extended their opening hours too, for campers and hungry passing trade. The campsite offers thoughtful facilities, with touches that would be welcomed especially by campers and DJ is keen to continue to improve. I can report that the beach is small but perfectly formed.
      Rowena
      🙂

      Like

    1. Oh Andrew! To think you were so near and yet so far from DJ’s camper’s kitchen with a toaster, kettle, microwave, fridge etc. Beans on toast and hot tea while sitting at a proper table and chairs in the kitchen could have been yours for the taking!
      Actually I’m not sure the hostel was open at the time, it appeared to be under construction, so you might have still had to sleep in your tent.
      Thanks for joining in the conversation 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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