Would-be summer visitors to the Isle of Harris are being urged to get their accommodation booked for next summer, ahead of a new surge of interest in Western Isles holidays.

CalMac’s summer timetable went live on Thursday (November 7th) prompting one Harris accommodation provider to encourage visitors to make sure they have somewhere to sleep before heading to the islands.

Annie Tempest, who has a holiday cottage and shop in Rodel, said she knew of visitors who arrived in Tarbert last summer without having booked accommodation and ending up sleeping in their cars.

She said: “I am not alone in noticing a massive increase in early bookings. May, June and August 2020 are completely sold out and this is before the ‘Call The Midwife’ effect after the Christmas Day special has screened.”

The BBC series Call the Midwife filmed their Christmas special in and around Lewis and Harris during May, featuring scenes shot at St Clements Church in Rodel and at the Blackhouse Museum at Gearranan.

Annie Tempest’s advice to those planning a holiday in Harris is posted on the Isle of Harris Facebook page. She said: “Don't leave it too late and don't forget to stipulate Tarbert, Harris NOT Tarbert, Argyle when you're booking accommodation. I was speaking to a couple last year who were staying in the flat above the fish restaurant called The Anchorage in Tarbert. I suggested they checked the booking and sure enough it was a different Tarbert.”

That comment rang a bell with some, including an islander who last year met a couple who had booked into Tarbert Hostel for the night – but had actually booked Tarbert in County Clare, Eire.

Annie said: “We all do our best to make sure people aren't left without accommodation but I met a lot of people last year who had turned up without a booking and some just got back on the ferry after sleeping in their car overnight because they were unable to find somewhere to stay.

“Harris's popularity is increasing so stop thinking about booking and actually get booking to prevent disappointment.”

Picture shows the cast of Call the Midwife at the Blackhouse Village in Lewis. The Christmas special is expected to boost visitor numbers still further (BBC).