And so we leave the fair and beautiful Island of Greenland with the first sighting of the Greenland Ringed Plover - very early, as these birds return to the North to reach their breading grounds in the Summer.  A rapid warbling call is emitted whilst in flight and a  characteristic, soft “dee-ip” can be heard whilst on land.

On my return to England, Charlie and I will be heading to the highlands of Scotland to visit Great Aunt Castafiore; an eminent archeologist and a wonderful local eccentric. 

A sketch of the symbols knitted into Flanna’s Eriskay Jersey.

This traditional Jersey, of the small Island of Eriskay is the only surviving example of this traditional knitting style left in the Outer Hebrides. The complex Jersey, knitted on four separate knitting needles is seamless and close fitting, allowing it to be hard wearing and practical for the fisherman who used to wear it. The symbols, as shown above, are the traditional motifs which illustrate the Islands ancient fishing industry. Each knitter uses her own unique selection of symbols for each individual garment she knits, she will hand these techniques down to her daughter. Made only in two colours, it is said that Navy was worn at sea during the week and cream reserved for the weekends.

Thank you to the Eriskay Co Chomunn store for access to these symbols and history.

Charlie and I decide to recreate the cover of the The Black Island from Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin. Rumour has it that Hergé based the fictional ‘Ben More Castle’ on Kisimul Castle - a building which sits on an island in Castlebay harbour on the Isle of Barra. The fictional 'Black Island’ and its castle is home to a monstrous creature which is under control of some villains - hopefully today we shall only find the odd seabird!

Kisimul was the stonghold of the MacNeils and was built in the early 15th Century.

A lone floating iceberg highlights the rich colours of Greenland.

The glowing sight of turquoise, colbalt, whites and greys remind me of the magnificent landscapes I have seen over the past few months. Where either the golden sunshine bathes the lilac mountains or the Northern lights casting an eerie green light over the snow covered houses. Through the Iceberg window awaits the boat that is to take me back to Denmark - where I shall then board an aeroplane, England bound.

Tonight I will trek out to see if I can find any Scottish Wildcats in the forest. Sightings are rare these days as the Cat is critically endangered. It is the last large mammal predator in the wild in the UK and its conservation and study is critical to its survival. 

This chart maps the pelt marking helping one to identify whether a creature is a true Wildcat, hybrid or domestic cat. It also shows how the cat has changed through domestication. 

We take a boat over from Leverburgh in Harris to the small Island of Bernaray and then another boat onto North Uist. Here is a sample of Uist Isle knitting with a design of Sea tangle. A sea tangle describes different types of kelp which is washed up on the beaches all over the islands. Kelp is a plentiful algae which people have used for centuries to fertilise the soil.

Many Scottish Islands have their own style of knitting and stitches which have been passed down through the generations. Many of the stitches represent the life and surroundings of the people who knit and wear the garments.

A Sunday walk down by Loch Long and I find a lost, rather exotic looking Salmon fly. Migratory fish such as Salmon or Trout can be caught here but must be returned to the water immediately. Numbers of these fish are in decline so fishing regulations are very strict.

The fly represents prey and is hand tied to a fish hook alongside feathers, furs and threads to become so irresistible to the fish that will fall for its trickery. 

This morning I have risen early from my campsite on the machair and a mornings stroll leads me to discover a family of otters frolicking in a Loch. The group of coastal dwelling otters are possibly bathing in the freshwater to wash the sea salt from their coats, this helps to maintain the insulative properties of their fur. The three slowly sense my presence and one of the group swim towards me, climbs onto a rock and sniffs the air to establish whether I am friend or foe. 

Two primitive breeds of sheep; the Soay (in the foreground) and the Hebridean.

Soay sheep are believed to be descended from one of the earliest forms of domesticated sheep and live wild on the uninhabited islands of St Kilda. Hebridean sheep are also an early form of domesticated sheep.  Once very rare it is now seen all over the Hebrides and its wool is once again being spun for jumpers!

Both of these animals are perfect for conservation grazing, they eat very little and don’t need to be grazed on the hills unlike domestic herds. They are very hardy, and they produce beautiful shades of wool often on the same animal in variations of black, grey, and brown. 

The island of Mingulay is a wildlife haven and resembles something from a dream. Teeming with seabirds, marine life and wildflowers, an island without human interference can lead to a very rich ecosystem. Here stands the abandoned chapel house in the village, of which the residents evacuated in 1912, after the population shrank due to hard ships and tragedy.  Abandoned buildings are a familiar sight across the Hebrides and the Highlands mainly due to the clearances of the 18th and 19th Century.

On our way to the deserted Island of Mingulay, we come across a small school of three Basking Sharks. These huge, prehistoric looking fish move slowly through the water, filtering plankton and small crustaceans through their gill rakers. Despite their appearance they are non-aggressive and harmless to humans. Their conservation status is listed as vulnerable due to their over exploitation for food, shark fin, animal feed and shark liver oil.

In Scotland however, they are now protected and thrive in the coastal waters during the summer around the West coast.

This evening as the sun is setting, I meet a boy and his young Eriskay Pony carrying freshly cut peats back to his croft. These rare and beautiful ponies are native to Eriskay and are descended from the native ponies that were once found all over Scotland. Great efforts have been taken to preserve this gentle animal and to keep its offspring pure breed.

Being strong, hardy and cheap to keep these ponies have been used by the islanders for centuries to transport the likes of seaweed, peat, hay and people.