Freya North: Harris inspired author Little Wing’s new novel

Harris. From the base of the Seilebost dune across the vast horseshoe bay to Luskentyre.

Why are you going there?

Partly because I live in landlocked Hertfordshire and partly because it’s a place where I feel both tiny and yet self-sufficient. Harris is very important to me and is himself a major character in my new novel Little Wing. Luskentyre could never just be a backdrop.

Sometimes I think it’s good for the soul to be in a place where time defines the earth – a place where we can feel isolated and in awe of the natural world.

Author Freya North. Photo: Dan Welldon Photography

How often do you go there?

Not as often as I would like. It’s been over a year since I’ve been there and I hope to fix it very soon.

How did you discover it?

A few years ago I was researching the true story of nurses in the Hebrides district with the idea of ​​developing a TV series (which I still hope to do).

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I had traveled from Barra, through South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist and Berneray, then sailed to Harris. And bam! The spell was cast and I’ve been happily captive ever since.

What is your favorite memory?

In 2017, I had to have back surgery. I thought there was something wrong with my leg, but it turned out to be two herniated discs. I was so anxious about the operation and also terrified of the anesthesia. I then worked with a physiotherapist.

I’ve always been an outdoorsman and athletic and suddenly felt so physically vulnerable and really depressed about everything. Eight weeks after my back surgery, I was on the sands of Luskentyre, at the very end of Traigh Rosamol beach.

HeraldScotland: Seilebost Beach on Harris overlooking the Strait of Taransay and the Atlantic Ocean.  Photo: Martin McCarthy/GettySeilebost Beach on Harris overlooking the Strait of Taransay and the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: Martin McCarthy/Getty

I walked a little before giving a small jump and I ran away. It was really moving – I was laughing and crying. Mine were the only footprints on the beach that afternoon.

I went there the next morning and ran again. I have a character, Dougie, in my new novel that runs there too. I can safely say that I know how he feels.

Who do you take?

During my first visit, I was with two producer friends. We are such talkers, but Seilebost and Luskentyre stunned us to silence.

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Last time I went I was supposed to go alone, but a few days before I asked my oldest and best friend Lucy if she wanted to join me – it was exciting to see her reaction when we crossed marram grass and sand dunes.

What do you take?

My imagination. And deep, deep breaths – the air is amazing. Somehow, when I’m here, I feel both closer to the ground and yet closer to the sky too.

What are you leaving behind?

Footprints and friends.

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Sum it up in a few words.

Distant. Amazing. From another world. Spiritual. Savage.

What other travel location is on your wish list?

Alaska.

Little Wing by Freya North is published by Welbeck, available now, £12.99

About Cecil Cobb

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