I am so far behind with this series of posts, it’s now more than 6 months since we took this trip!
This one does, however, cover the final day – phew!
Lewis, like the other islands in the Outer Hebrides, still observes the religious habit of shutting all shops, outlets, cafes etc. on a Sunday. If you travel there, be warned!
We were fortunate enough that someone put us in the picture a few days before, so I had planned our two days accordingly, with Sunday’s destinations being stuff we could just look at and admire. It also enabled me to plan ahead for provisioning ourselves for the day – when I say there is nothing open, I mean it!
We stayed in the island’s capital, Stornoway, and of course there are a couple of exceptions – one (and I mean, one) garage on the island stays open, and the café inside Lews Castle is open until lunchtime. That gave us a starting point.
Love these gargoyles!
Lews Castle is available as a wedding venue, so there are a lot of big, empty rooms
Pretty beautiful, isn’t it?
As you can see, this is a fairly modern castle, built in 1844. Our next stop was on the other end of the timescale – Dun Carloway broch, a remarkably well-preserved building from the first century AD!
Still windy, as you can hear!
Here is a snippet of its more recent history (from Wikipedia) :
“The broch was occasionally used in later times as a stronghold. The Morrisons of Ness put Dun Carloway into use in 1601. The story goes that they had stolen cattle from the MacAuleys of Uig. The MacAuleys wanted their cattle back and found the Morrisons in the broch. One of them, Donald Cam MacAuley, climbed the outer wall using two daggers and managed to smoke out the inhabitants by throwing heather into the broch and then setting fire to it. The MacAuleys then destroyed the broch.”
Either the people were a LOT smaller back in those days, or the ground level was lower…
The (closed) visitor centre has been sympathetically built nearby
Moving on, we were on our way to the next location on my list when we came across this guy beside the road
We just had to stop!
We had a long chat, and then he let me do this:
When I could tear myself away, we went on to see the Black House Village at Gearrannan, – you can stay in these if you fancy!
Here’s what it says about these houses on the ‘Virtual Hebrides’ website:
“The blackhouses tell us a lot about what island life was like in The Western Isles in the past. The blackhouse were a residence for both animals and humans. There was no chimney and a peat fire was lit at all times in the centre of the kitchen and living area.”
There’s lots more info and pics on the website.
These buildings are akin to the Viking reconstruction we visited the day before and their location is just stunning, the road winding down to a lovely cove
And, of course, they had the essential peat stack
Then it was off again (I don’t believe in not using every bit of daylight) with a mile trek out to a nearby Viking mill
Obviously some reconstruction has gone on!
But the remains inside look pretty well aged…
It was pretty blustery by now, so we settled into the car for the coastal drive along to the very top of Lewis, known fittingly as the Butt of Lewis. This is the most northerly point of the Western Isles, and is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records for being the windiest place in the UK – even without the tail end of hurricane Ophelia!
No safety rails here!
Apparently the odd tourist does fall to their death here, so I was very careful not to go too close to the edge on this windy day
This was taken standing at the base of the 121ft high lighthouse
And there is yet another secluded, sandy cove. Probably perfect for smugglers, but a touch breezy for sunbathing!
Our final destination loomed – the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’.
Garry bridge literally goes nowhere! You cross it and the road stops.
The ambitious plan was to create a road along the coast to make a circular route, instead of having to drive out to the end of the island, and back by the same route. Unfortunately the road was never completed and the anachronism that is the Bridge to Nowhere has become a tourist destination instead.
It’s a pretty view over the parapet
That should have been it for the day, but we couldn’t resist a final walk along a spectacular stretch of sand on the way back from the bridge
And clearly that wind doesn’t matter when you’re wearing a wetsuit!
So that was it, the Outer Hebrides in full.
It was a wonderful trip, so much to see and learn. The weather could have been kinder, but equally it could have been a lot worse (Ophelia aside!), and one doesn’t go to the Western Isles for the weather!
We took the (very) early morning ferry back across from Stornoway to Ullapool, then across to Inverness and back to work for me.
So many great memories, thank you for sharing them with me – hope you enjoyed the odyssey.