Coastal camping near Tarbert is exquisite: Try alongside the sands of one of Europe’s loveliest beaches, Luskentyre.
The fishing village of Tarbert, connected by ferry to Uig on Skye, sits between the sea lochs on a photogenic isthmus separating South Harris and North Harris. Stark and striking nature surrounds this little community: the dreamy white sand beaches of Luskentyre and Scarista to the southwest, the otherworldly rockscape of the Golden Road in the southeast, and the peaks of North Harris (including the highest Outer Hebridean summit of Clisham) to the north. Tarbert features a shop to purchase food supplies, as well as places to eat, and the best campsites are between five and 10 miles outside the village looking out on Luskentyre.
South Harris is postcard Outer Hebrides—low green hills give way to some of Scotland’s prettiest sandy beaches on one side of the island while the lunar-like craggy landscape around the Golden Road makes for spectacular adventures too. Campers are spoilt for choice, with a cluster of sites around Luskentyre Beach and several more over in the rockier east, plus plentiful wild camp spots.
The divide between South and North Harris is the isthmus on which Tarbet is located. Mountains thrust out of boggy moorland so rocky and remote that this is one of the best places for observing golden eagles in Europe. On the moorland close to the couple of roads that exist here there is decent wild camping, plus a campsite at Huishnish.
Teensy Berneray is a short road trip (to Leverburgh) and then a short ferry journey from Tarbert, and is where you will need to go to continue travelling south through the archipelago. But it is worth pausing on this clement, uncrowded isle – if only because few others do and as a result the stunning sandy beaches are even lovelier for being deserted. Wild camping is the order of the day here, and towards the north of the island no one is likely to ever see you.
Everything about Tarbert suggests a visit between April and October is best. Most official campgrounds only open during this period (some only open May-September). Harris is famously wild and wet and when the rain descends or the wind blows, there is little shelter, so an April-October trip reduces the likelihood of such abysmal weather slightly. Tarbert’s big annual celebration is Feis Mara na Hearadh (the Isle of Harris Festival of the Sea) in July.