Wild & remote with moorlands and mountains, the Islands of Lewis and Harris offer outstanding beauty and I just can’t wait to go back and explore more!
Mum, Dad and I.
We drove from Edinburgh to Ullapool, then caught the CalMac ferry to Stornoway, which takes approx 2 and a half hours, weather permitting!
How long for:
We arrived in Callanish about 9:30 pm on Sunday night and left late Thursday Morning.
What did we do:
Monday – we headed to Ness, saw the Beach, Harbour and point. It was a bit blowy but, at least, the rain kept away! The beach was outstanding but couldn’t see a way down to until we passed the sign (while driving past it) and then it was too late.
On the way back from Ness we spotted two highland cows and grabbed a couple of shots of the cute and rather hairy beasts.
After that, we headed to Stornoway as it was nearly lunch time and I had read up on places to eat before leaving that morning and had bookmarked “Digby Chick“. It was a lovely meal, and Dad was impressed which was a sigh of relief!
After the meal, we strolled around Stornoway. Dad was on a mission to get a paper but due to the adverse weather the ferries were all cancelled that morning and that means no papers, so he was out of luck. While he was on his mission, Mum and I had spotted a lovely Harris Tweed shop: Harris Tweed Hebrides and decided to go in and browse. I was on the look out for some tweed to make a waistcoat for Mr C and wanted something to go with his tweed jacket that he already has. We looked a few and decided to go back with a picture of his jacket to try and get something that would appropriately go with it.
We bought a few bits and pieces from the co-op for dinner, which was roast chicken and veg!
Tuesday – It was rather wet and the wind was getting up but we didn’t let that stop that in our paths. We planned to go Harris and see the magnificent beaches and the rugged hills. It wasn’t much in the way of walking weather but I did get a few shots of the beaches on the road side but that’s how close I got to the waves! It was getting pretty wild out there and again the ferries were cancelled again as the winds were at their strongest.
For lunch, we stopped at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert. It was ok. I had fish & chips (again!!) like Monday but it wasn’t as good. I’m pretty sure due to the very wild weather the hotel kitchen was running short on things as the scallops were off the menu as were other things.
We then set off and headed for the wild mountains (and believe me, with the weather it was wild!) up past an old whaling station and then to see if any eagles were flying at the observatory. Ok, we saw the old whaling station or what left of it but we got to the start of the path to the observatory and looked at each other. The weather wasn’t the best, the clouds had lowered and it was drizzly. So that was that and I think the Eagles would have been trying to keep dry too – I wouldn’t blame them!
Because we had roast chicken and had leftover chicken, I offered to do a risotto for dinner.
Wednesday – Mum and I decided to go up to the Callanish Standing Stones, which were just a stone’s throw from our accommodation. We timed it well as there was a break in the wet weather so I was about to get a few decent shots of the stones at various spots and exposures.
After our little walk, we grabbed a shower and headed out. We stopped at the Carloway Broch and the Gearrannan Village. Both were interesting but again the weather front and a rather wet one at that came in.
One spot I wanted to get to was the Uig sands and see where the famous Uig or Lewis Chessmen were buried and found. Once again the weather was misbehaving and it was quite difficult to get a decent shot without getting my camera lens wet. The wooden figure marks the area of where the chessmen were found as there are no records of the exact spot. I wanted to explore the golden sands but it was peeing it down and I had left my camera waterproofs back at home in the burgh so wasn’t really up for getting “my precious” sodden. TOP TIP: It’s not well signposted, so when you hit Timsgearraidh, follow the brown signs and keep on the road past the big estate (don’t take that road!). You will eventually see “to the beach” sign and you know you are literally on the right track – ha ha!
Passing back through Stornoway we stopped for a few things as well as the tweed for Mr C’s waistcoat and maybe some for myself! Mum bought a couple of souvenirs too. The ladies in the Harris Tweed shop were super helpful, and we had a good chat.
Dad wanted to go back to Digby Chicks for lunch as he enjoyed Monday’s meal. It was fairly relaxed and wasn’t too busy. I didn’t got for battered fish and chips this time but went for the sesame seed pork. It was delicious! Dad went for the tasting plate which was a total bargain in our opinion as you got a lot of bang for your buck at £14.95!
Back at the Air BnB, we settled on for the night and sat in front of the tv with the wood burner crackling. We finished off the risotto from the night before with some vegetables.
Thursday – I cooked a hearty breakfast for the long journey ahead and then we all finished packing and packed up the car. We headed to Stornoway via one of the older roads from Callanish.
We got to Stornoway about lunch time and found Woodlands Café next to Lewis Castle. Mum and I popped in for coffee and we might have got a scone, to share. Dad, however, sat in the car and had a little snooze, don’t worry – he’s more than happy to do so!
Before catching the ferry, we stopped at the local Tesco for a few bits and pieces like water and sweets for the long drive down from Ullapool to Edinburgh. I’m glad Dad was driving as it is a rather long drive especially when the winds were gathering up and the roads were dark and twisty!
In Callanish at an Air BnB. It was about a 10minute walk from the Callanish Standing Stones. The house was lovely, even had decent nights sleep when the gales were roaring through the Island! MaryAnn, our host, had left a lovely welcome gift of cakes, which were home made by Belle the baker!
Things we missed:
I wish we had a bit more time or made use of it a little better. It would have been good to see the weaving of Harris Tweed live and found out a bit more about it on the Island. I’m quite chuffed I managed to get some tweed. However, one of my closest friends managed to get there and see the wool being weaved – you can read it all about here!
If money were no object and the weather was on it’s best behaviour, a trip to St Kilda would have been amazing!
Given the chance, I would definitely go back and maybe stay at the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village – it’s very idyllic!
The right time of year – yeah that would not be in January! Perhaps late spring or late summer to get down to the Beaches and feel the sand beneath my feet! Harris and lewis have some of the best beaches in the world – here’s proof!
Mind you the Winter lighting gave me some phenomenal lighting –
Some more Info:
My friend Michelle, again has lots more to talk about Lewis & Harris in these too articles: What to do & The beaches. Michelle is a Travel Photographer and has captured the islands beautifully ully in her images.
I’ll re-read this before I go again! It’s got some great tips.
There are some lovely photos and some great insight about the Islands on this blog!
Another good blog is this one, which tells you some facts about the Islands.
You will need to book tickets ahead via Cal Mac, especially in the summer months.
Last but not least, you WILL need a car! There are buses but the won’t take you to places that are really remote!
And here’s another Highland Cow – sorry couldn’t help myself!
Disclaimer: All opinions are happily my own!