Hushinish, which is in the North Harris part of Lewis and Harris, is a delightful place to visit in early summer when the machair, or coastal grassy plain, is covered with flowers such as harebells, or Scottish bluebells. Delightful also for its gleaming beaches, which boast the highest percentage of shell fragments in Scotland. It is possible to walk from here via a mountain path to Cravadale on the shores of Loch Cleabhaig, a rewarding walk for the views to the uninhabited island of Scarp. The water between this coast and Scarp is notorious for its strong currents, even though it is often very shallow. Scarp was inhabited until 1970, and the difficulty of making the crossing between Hushinish and Scarp due to the treacherous waters meant that the people of Scarp were often cut off. Enter German inventor Gerhard Zucker, who in 1934 came up with a cunning plan to deliver the island's post by "rocket mail". Sadly, the inventor's attempts at delivering the mail in this way were unsuccessful, and led to the mail items being singed. Anyone who finds it hard to believe this story should head for the Museum nan Eilean in Stornoway, where examples of the damaged envelopes are on display. The episode provided inspiration for two films, one in 2002 and one in 2006, both called The Rocket Post.
Map of the area.
© 2004 Peter Amsden, via Wikimedia Commons