The Outer Hebrides is a very special place, that has to be visited to fully appreciate it’s unique beauty. Two weeks at least is needed to fully explore all its nooks and crannies, probably more actually.
On arriving at the port at Stornoway, the first thing that’s hits you is that there appears to be a lot of trees. These outer Islands have a lot of things going for them, but trees is not usually one of them.
If you have been to Orkney, another very northern Scottish Island, which we did last year you will realise that in these sort of places trees are quite a rare and unusual adornment to the countryside. In fact when you come across a decent one or even possibly a few together if you are very lucky, you pull over get out of the car and have a good look at them, pretty much the same as if you spotted a rare orchid or such like.
I digress, anyway there were trees! We soon learned that they were attached to the Lews Castle Estate and is in fact the largest ‘wood’ on the Islands. The next thing we realised is that staying in a place near Stornoway, for us personally meant at least a 45 minute drive to get to any of the places we wanted to visit.
For us West is best for Lewis, the coast and beaches were beautiful on that side and the ‘Golden Road’ on the east of Harris is one that has to be done. If you like wild camping that is the place to be, but only if you have a sturdy tent that can withstand the almost constant wind that is the norm here.
By the second week we had driven around most of the Island and visited nearly all the tourist attractions, Callanish Stones, Brochs, Great Bernera. But we had not seen a Golden or Sea Eagle, which we had hoped for, we did hear of Corncrakes in the area but we didn’t come across one. Dave still got a few nice pictures though.
On our list was the Blackhouses village, which is a museum village on the coast, I really enjoyed learning about the history of the houses and the way of life for these people. It seems it was not an easy one but they seemed content enough with it apparently.
It was not busy when we visited and a few folk were looking around the houses. We wandered around the little Blackhouse and came face to face with Robson Green off the telly. Apparently he’s filming a new series for ITV, he was just wandering around the site chatting to folk at that point, not filming. He very kindly agreed to have a photo taken with me, I have to say a great one of him but a terrible one of me. I weigh 8 stone honestly!
On the last day we had a look at the exhibition centre ‘An Lanntair’ in Stornaway and just setting up his latest exhibition was the photographer Ian Lawson, who produced a fantastic book called ‘From The Land Comes Cloth’ which is documenting the Harris Tweed story with the most amazing photographs, Dave bought me the book for Xmas. So another posing photo opportunity was had for us both, he also seemed a very nice chap and happily chatted to us.
We also saw some weaving nearby of the famous tweed, the guy doing it in his garage was an ex banker from Scotland. They have to pedal the machine in their home premises for it to qualify for the Harris Tweed seal apparently.
All in all a great holiday and one I suggest you try for yourself soon.