Finding Strand: The Road to Peter's Port (Page 44)

A shaft of light penetrates another mass of Paul Strand’s porridgy clouds to illuminate farm buildings near what looks like the head of a loch, and the peaks of what I now recognise as Ruabhal and Stiaraval on Benbecula add interest to the horizon.


Because there is only a single road to Peter's Port, the location for this image could only be somewhare on the B891, which runs east from the main A865 at the south end of Benbecula, and a series of small lochs and then Loch Chearabhaigh run along its northern side.

Accordingly, driving east I found the correct spot easily. It’s just after the telephone box at the junction of the B891 with the minor roads running to Haclait and Cill Eireabhagh, and it lies immediately past an obvious left-right kink in the road.

Strand’s clouds and shaft of light were nowhere to be seen , so I had to make do with the high, light haze and blue sky I was given. A few more buildings have appeared on the far side of the loch, but the farm in the centre of his image is largely unchanged.

I was unable to reach the exact spot where he must have set his tripod: a small knoll, 10 yards north of the road which is shown behind the fence in my second image. Sharp barbed-wire enclosed the necessary field, and the gate was chained shut and liberally wound with more spikey defences and I didn’t want to rip my trousers this early in the trip. This is at grid reference 818482 on OS Explorer 453.


Peter’s Port (also known as Port Pheadair, Fodragaigh and Bagh Nam Faoilean) is strictly on the island of Grimsay, and consists of a small jetty constructed in 1896 at a cost of £2000 supposedly to stimulate the local fishing industry ( ). The road cost another £1800, and includes a causeway joining Benbecula to Grimsay. Unfortunately, they forgot to consider access from the sea, and only small fishing boats can penetrate the hazardous surrounding channels to dock…

Today the road is lovely, winding across low hills, bridges and causeways, past ancient fish traps and fishing cormorants.

Much of Benbecula, however, verges on the barren. Who is warning who about the Disabled Driver, and what is the risk? What dire hazard once existed 100y away from the middle of nowhere? I hope my Lee Friedlander-influenced car mirror image adequately illustrates the remoteness of that rural postbox…

Finding Strand: Sheep on the moor

Paul Strand and Tir a'Mhurain: new edition of the book