Isle of Lewis Sightseeing

Stornoway Harbour

I’ve often heard it said you get four seasons in one day fairly frequently in the Outer Hebrides. Yesterday was no exception to this. Friday was a day of contrasts; rain in the morning and Sunshine in the afternoon.

This morning I stayed around Stornoway in the rain, I went up to Lews Castle which also has an interesting museum about the Gaelic language, culture and lifestyle.

Lews Castle

In the afternoon it brightened up so shortly after 1 I got in the car and got on the road. My first stop was the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, at the Northernmost top of the Isle of Lewis (and therefre the most Northern point of the Outer Hebrides).

With nothing between there and Canada to the West, and the Arctic to the North, the Butt of Lewis is further North than Moscow, and it is the windiest place in the UK. Today, it was calm.

A long way down!
Butt of Lewis Lighthouse
The skies looking brighter than this morning

I then moved on to The Blackhouse at Arnol, the traditional style of house where people and animals would live in the same building.

The structure itself is closed for repair work to be carried out at the moment, but there are some ruins of a similar house to look at, as well as a cottage from the 1920s to look inside – and with the structure being closed, entry to the lot was free today.

The Blackhouse, Arnol

Next it was on to the Calanais Standing Stones and Visitor Centre. By this time BBC Radio Scotland’s Newsdrive orogramme had started and I still hadn’t had any lunch, so I took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat (just a sandwich and a slice of cake really).

There is small exhibition there too, which talks about the history and significance of the stones; the exhibition costs a couple of pounds if you choose to go in, but the stones themselves are free to visit.

The 5000 year old Calanais Standing Stones – Scotland’s answer to Stonehenge

My last stop before returning to Stornoway was to drive over to Great Bernera, an island linked to Lewis by the bridge over the Atlantic. The bridge was built in 1953 after the islanders threatened to blow up the cliffs and create their own causeway if a bridge wasn’t built.

On Great Bernera I drove to the beach at Bostadh (Bosta), where for the first time this week I was able to sit on the beach without my coat and jumper on!

Traigh Bhostadh (Bosta Beach)
I drove over the Atlantic Ocean
Standing on the bridge over the Atlantic
Some road signs here are in Gaelic only and not in English – This one reads Welcome to the Island of Great Bernera.

Although I squeezed a lot in to yesteray, had the weather been better I’d have gone out in the morning and done a lot more – I didn’t see any of what I wanted to see on the Isle of Harris, further South.

Realistically its a bit far to do after breakfast tomorrow, with maybe around an hour or so in each direction to get to some of the places I want to go to and a ferry to catch in the afternoon. (Unless I leave straight away after breakfast… could be an option).

But certainly a return trip is needed here as I quite like the slower pace of life on the islands and the roads have been great to drive on.

I arrived back in Stornoway just as the evening ferry arrived.

Later this afternoon I’ll be going on the ferry shown above, returning to the mainland at Ullapool. I’ll then start the long journey South and will stop overnight in Perth.

This is a change to my original plan – not as far to drive but as I don’t have the pressure of trying to get all the way back to Gloucestershire on Sunday I don’t have the need to cover so many miles this evening. It is still a fair drive to Perth from Ullapool though!


Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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