I recently was lucky enough to visit the Isle of Lewis and Harris. I had
wanted to go for a long time and jumped at the chance when i was
invited to stay at the beautiful Lews Castle in Stornoway. The drive to
Ullapool from where I live on the west coast was stunning, good roads
that take you into the heart of the Highlands, giving dramatic views
around every corner. On arrival in Ullapool, the sight of the ferry
after the drive through rugged and mountainous scenery gave me good hope
for what would turn out to be an amazing trip... Have you ever been?
Are you planning a trip?
View from the ferry in Ullapool
accommodation for the two nights was the beautiful Lews Castle,
situated overlooking Stornoway and its harbour. This incredible
building, run by Natural Retreats, has been refurbished to a very high
standard, and my room with its sea views was nothing short of palatial
with all the things I needed to make for a very comfortable stay. The
surrounding Castle grounds were beautiful, you can walk down to the
shoreline and get a view to the harbour or walk a little further and
gain fantastic views out to the Minches. There is also a golf course
within walking distance of Lews Castle and an adjoining museum which is
really interesting, has some amazing artifacts and gives you a brilliant
insight into the varied history of Lewis and Harris.. perfect for a
rainy day alternative, as is a walk around Stornoway itself! Lews Castle
is a perfect base for exploring this stunning island and being only a
short walk from the town centre, there are lots of nice shops and cafes
to see and the live music played in some of the pubs at night is
brilliant, a great way to spend an evening and chat with the locals.
Lews Castle, Stornoway
the first evening I decided to head north from Stornoway, to reach the
most northerly point at the Butt of Lewis. The drive there was
beautiful, passing small holdings and crofts on a fairly flat moorland.
lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis is definitely worth the drive, it sits
on the cliffs and is quite unusual for a Scottish lighthouse as its
built in red brick and hasn't been painted white. Just sitting on the cliff edge here and
watching the waves crashing on the stacks is a good way to pass the
However, I had to continue on and headed down the west coast,
stopping off to look at an old Blackhouse dwelling in Arnol, was really
cool to see how the houses used to be constructed. There are loads of
interesting historical sights to stop off and visit on this route, as
well as numerous pristine beaches if you're looking for a camping or BBQ
spot for the evening.
Butt of Lewis Lighthouse
Passing some of the local lambs..
on my stop offs on the first evening was Dun Carloway Broch, an ancient
Iron Age dwelling that saw over 1000 years of continuous occupation.
Crazy to think of living in a structure like this, but judging on the
way its stood up to the test of time, it must have been not too bad! I
also had a quick stop off to see Garenin Blackhouse Village, where you
can actually stay if you want to in old style blackhouses! The 9
restored traditional thatched cottages look really good on the edge of
the bay and were the last blackhouses to be inhabited in the Western
Dun Carloway Broch, Carloway
Garenin Blackhouse Village
the highlight of the first day on Lewis was arriving at Callanish
Standing Stones just in time for sunset. This site, thought to date to
Neolithic era, is a truly mystical and powerful place. Although there
were a few people here, everyone was so quiet and just taking in the
sight of the last light of the day hitting the stones.. Experiencing
this place at sunset is highly recommended!
Callanish Standing Stones
two saw me explore Harris, setting off from Lews Castle I headed south
for Tarbert, the capital of Harris. Here you can have a look around the
distillery if the weather doesn't suit much else, or a look in some of
the nice shops and Harris Tweed outlets in the surrounding area. From
here I took the Gold Road south on the eastern coast of Harris, which
gave stunning views across to the Scottish mainland and the Isle of
Skye! The narrow, twisting road took me past small villages and coves
with lots of seals lounging around on the rocks. Plenty of nice places
to stop off on this route as well, St Clements Church in Rodel is worth a
look. This 15th century church was built for the chiefs of the Macleods
clan of Harris and is beautifully situated within the landscape.
St. Clements Church, Rodel
Lazing around on the rocks
here I continued on towards the jewel in Harris crown, Luskentyre
beach. On the way I passed the salt marshes at Northton before rounding
the corner and glistening white sand beaches came into view. The
coastline here is stunning, the turquoise water contrasts beautifully
with the dark, brooding skies and pure white sand. A day spent at the
beach here is a day well spent! Have you ever been?
Luskentyre Beach, Harris
these are some of the highlights from my trip.. there are so many
beautiful things to see on Lewis and Harris, it would be impossible to
share them all so you might just have to go see them for yourself! Lews
Castle was the perfect base for exploring and gave a truly relaxing
place to unwind after a day in the great outdoors. There is a lot of
wildlife to see on the island too, you can go on eagle tours or hop on a
fast boat for the chance to see whales and dolphins or the island from a
different angle. There are also plenty of mountains and hills to go for
a hike and trails for cycling too!
Have you been before? Have
you got any recommendations for things to do or places to see.. or are
you planning a trip to the Isle of Lewis and Harris and have something
you really want to see? Let me know..