The Scarista Bus – Isle of Harris, Scotland - Atlas Obscura
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The Scarista Bus

Isle of Harris, Scotland

A mysterious, weather-beaten bus lies on the coast of Harris, enticing the curious to investigate. 

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On the verdant green machair, beside the golden sands of Scarista Beach, sits a decaying old bus with a rather unusual tale to tell. For those who investigate, it quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary abandoned hulk. It was once a home away from home, a place of adventure where memories were made and stories told.

This particular story starts in January 2005, when a ferocious storm battered the coastline. The hurricane-force winds destroyed a caravan used by the local Western Isles Scouts groups for weekend adventures in and around the area. A year later the Scouts were donated an old bus to replace their obliterated caravan. This was diligently converted into a habitable living space, a new and improved clubhouse. A cooker and kitchen area were installed, communal seating added, even a small bathroom placed where the driver’s cabin used to be. A perfect new base for exploration and overnight stays. It’s not hard to imagine it being a well-maintained hive of activity, full of raucous noise and laughter. All a far cry from the muted scenes of disrepair and decay which greet the explorer today.

Is the bus still in use? Perhaps—though it’s not going to get you to any destination very quickly. There’s still a logbook where visitors add their own thoughts, and a book full of hymns and songs. Storage containers filled with blankets are stacked neatly on the floor. There’s a defeated, downbeat atmosphere about the place that may even seem sinister (if you’re in that frame of mind). Echoes of faded hopes and failed dreams seem to emanate from the tattered upholstery, grime-covered surfaces, and moldering exterior.

Nature seems to be slowly but surely reclaiming the bus, though perhaps there’s life in the old beast yet. Maybe a restoration project by the enterprising local Scouts could breathe new life into their beachside base? Only time will tell what fate awaits the Scarista bus.

Know Before You Go

Follow the A859 out of the port of Leverburgh and past the village of Northton. The bus will be visible from the road. Limited roadside spaces are available. 

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