The Outer Hebrides are Britain's most northwesterly chain of islands. Their sheer remoteness, allied to the worst ravages of the Atlantic weather and, for the duration of the summer months, the uniquely irksome attentions of the midge are a winning deterrent for most.

But in July 2008, we were lucky enough to be crossing the Minch framed by one of those weather windows that you could spent an entire lifetime in damp gear below a low cloud base just dreaming about.

In such immaculate conditions, this mosaic landsape of rocks and water, sandbars and skerries becomes the most exotic place on earth.

While jets trailed through the overhead blue carrying holiday hundreds to the uncertainties of a foreign paradise, we were burling across miles of unspoilt beach beside a glittering ocean.

On this occasion, paradise had come to us.

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