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Walk - Northton - Views of Scarista - 3 Norton beaches - Isle of Harris
Lovely Isle of Harris walk - three and a half miles, beautiful views, several beaches. Scarista, Traigh an Taoibh Thuath, Traigh-na Cleabhaig at Northton and Northton beaches. See the impressionable remains of a medieval chapel, that has been built on ground which was originally part of an Iron Age Broch.
Isle of Harris - Medieval Chapel at Northton
Isle of Harris Walk - Views of Scarista - Northton Beaches and a Medieval Chapel. This lovely Isle of Harris walk - only 3 or 4 miles and pretty easy going. You will be treated to the sight of at least 5 different Harris beaches
Photo Gallery Northton Harris Walk to Medieval Chapel
Northton - Moorland - Isle of Harris
The beaches you pas - some which a lot of tourists may well not have seen are all beautiful, and also views of Scarista beach, also of Traigh an Taoibh Thuath, Traigh-na Cleabhaig at Northton and the Northton beaches.
Wildflowers - Devils Bit - Scabious
Along the route we passed several lovely purple wildflowers - the scabious or Devils bit, quite a small wildflower. The scabious is , actually a perennial herb, which you can see all over the Islands, showing their faces between August and late October, bees and hoverflies, and in fact lots of insects love these flowers

 

Devils Bit - Name Derivation
Devil's-bit scabious is so named because its roots end abruptly - in times gone by people said that this was as though they had been bitten off by the devil.
We Set off On the Walk to See Scarista, Northton Beaches and The Chapel

After having gone through the gate that is situated at the end of the Northon Road, you follow a pebbled like pathway which winds up the moorland for a few moments, before it turns directly onto the grassy moorland, where you can follow the trail.

Take in the views of The Harris Hills and indeed the lovely beach, Traigh an Taoibh Thuath, which lies to the front of the Scarista beach.

We walked along the rolling moorland, astonishingly pretty, whilst all the time having views to the right of the beach - Traigh an Taoibh with the aqua marine blue sea behind and the Harris hills in the background.

Scarista is just in sight too - a wonderful vista. Also, there is old cattle stalls arrangement - which we wondered if this had been used as a kind of cattle market, or maybe it is just there for rounding the sheep up and shearing or dipping

Bird Sightings - Northton - Isle of Harris
As we wended our way along the moors, we were lucky to see several birds, gulls, a buzzard, oyster catchers, a meadow pipit, terns, a pied wagtail and a stonechat.

Pied Wagtail
The first is a lovely pied wagtail, a small black and white - pied bird with a long tail. The pied wagtail can sometimes be mistaken as being a young Magpie - however this bird is much smaller than a Magpie. This little bird is only a little bigger than a great tit. The most distinctive feature is its wagging tail. Pied Wagtails are in constant motion, darting here and there to pick up tiny insects from the grass.

Stonechat
Stonechats - these "robin" like birds are quite small, shorter and rounder than the similar winchats. The name stonechat derives from the sounds the cry is a sharp loud call that sound like two stones being tapped together. It has a series of double notes.
Once we had seen the lovely scenery looking towards and across Scarista, we decided that rather than tarry here, we would back track a little and turned to walk back a few yards until we saw small tracks and headed across the moorland - wending our way across to the right where we new we would pass the paths and route towards the Medieval Chapel. Along the way , you pass two more lovely beaches. The first one is called "Traigh na Cleabhaig.
NOrthton Cattle Stalls - Isle of Harris
Views of Hills and Moorland - Silverweed - Yellow Wildflowers
As we walked along, there were stunning views of the Harris Hills and the Scarista beaches, and also, even though it was quite late on in the year (October) several wildflowers were still in evidence.

The silverweed yellow wildflowers which some would say are almost "weeds", but I think are really beautiful being one of these. These lovely flowers are native to the Western Isles, they are a perennial and have five petals which open in the sun - and the sun was shining bright that day! ,,,

More Views of the Beaches with the Hills in The Background
Northton is a small village in South West Harris and is 18 miles South of Tarbert, Leverburgh, being 3 miles away. Taobh Tuath is the Gaelic name for Northton. As we had walked for about 15 mins, views of Scarista and the Harris Hills were lovely!
The first stages of our walk up and across the lovely moorland at Northton.
Yellow wildflowers Silverweed
Photo gallery Northton - Isle of Harris
Near Scarista Beach - Northton - Isle of Harris
Cattle Stalls Northton - Near Scarista

The Route Leading to the Medieval Chapel Passes two Lovely Beaches

Having walked at the other side of Northton looking towards Scarista, and turned around to this side of the moorland, we found that the scenery that greets you on your amble to see the Medieval Chapel, is just as stunning, if not more so. You walk past, lovely beaches

Rubh An Teampaill Medieval Chapel and Iron Age Broch
Views of the Uists
As you pass the last beach, you can see the Medieval Chapel at the edge of the headland, you can see that both gables have survived the ravages of time. The Northton chapel faces south and you have views of the Uists.

 

Stonechat - Isle of Harris bird sightings
Pied Wagtail
Northton - Looking Towards Scarista
PIed Wagtail
Area Occupied Since the Mesolithic Period
Whilst the chapel itself is medieval, what makes it really unusual is that the location of this Medieval Chapel is the only place in the whole of the Outer Hebrides, which is now known to have been occupied during the Mesolithic period over 9000 years ago

Interior Used to Be Lime Plastered
At one time the interior was lime plastered, with an altar against the east wall (only its footings remain now) and niches for the sacrament vessels and a stone "shelf" for an image.

Maybe Once also The Site of a Nunnery

Outside , a stone and earth wall encloses the graveyard which has been affected by marine erosion. This graveyard has probably been in use since Viking times or earlier, Local tradition also identifies Rubh' an Teampaill as the site of an early nunnery

An Impressive Broch 2000 years ago
Enigmatic Cup Marks 5000 Years Ago Impressive BrochThe headland was also an important landmark over 2000 years ago, as it was the site of a 'broch', a large and impressive round tower of two or three storeys that served as an Iron Age chieftan's residence. All that now remains is the circular foundation course, partly built over by the chapel.All of its other stonework has since been removed. probably re-used in the construction of the nearby buildings including the chapel. One or more possible lines of enclosure on the landward side across the narrowest part of the promontory may also have been part of the defensive strategy.

Enigmatic Cup Marks

In earlier prehistoric times, up to 5000 years ago, people left enigmatic 'cup-marks' (small circular depressions) on the rocky ledges of the headland. 500 metres along the shore are the eroding remains of their settlements, which had been occupied periodically since the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.More recently, a township occupied the area in the 17th century, one of four that were cleared during the 18th century to make way for Northton Farm. The drystone wall surrounding the park was part of that farm
Scabious - Purple Wildflowers Western Isles

Medieval Chapel - Isle of Harris - Northton - Restoration Work Sympathetically Done
The chapel has had some work done to it in order to save the chapel from total collapse. I have learned that great care was taken, and that the stones that were used to rebuild parts was carefully sourced so as to be as near as possible the same type of stone that was originally used, and even the materials for the cement mix that was used, had as near as possible the same ingredients as the original mix would have been.

Chapel is Late Medieval - Burials Around the Area Date Back 9000 years
The Chapel is perhaps 15th Century - but built on an Iron Age Broch. The late medieval chapel is old enough, however the large stony mound under it suggests to the experts that this building is just the latest of perhaps many buildings that have stood here. The location and the immediate surrounding area is actually of great importance to the archeologists as the headland and the area around has provided evidence that there was once a stone built wall and and certainly seems to show human activity over many centuries, burials going back to the Viking or Pictish period - so about 9000 years ago! How amazing is that.

Stone Earth Wall Enclosed A Graveyard - dating back to the Viking Period
The view as you look through one of the splayed slit windows is just stunning, you can imagine in times well gone by the people coming here to worship.

Stonechat
Hebrides Beaches - Northton - Traigh Na Cleabhaig
Traigh na Cleabhaig
Purple Wildflowers - Scabious
View THrough the Window of the Medieval Chapel - Isle of Harris
Outer Hebrides Beaches
Traigh na Cleabhaig - Northton - Harris
Inside the Chapel - Northton - Harris
THe Medieval Chapel at Northton - WEstern Isles History
The beach at Northton - Harris
The Medieval Chapel on the Headland
          The Northton Medieval Chapel
The Chapel at Northton - Harris
Inside The Chapel at Northton
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