I have just returned from another fantastic week in the Outer Hebrides. It has to be one of my favourite places. The scenery is breathtaking with fantastic wildlife to observe and white sandy beaches that seem to go on forever.
In September 2016 I undertook the epic cycle ride from Barra in the south, right up to the Butt of Lewis in the far northerly tip. The 186 mile ride took me 5 days and I felt a real sense of achievement at the end of it. Since my cycle ride I have wanted to return and experience a more leisurely look at the islands. I wanted to see more of the historical gems as well as the feast of natural history it has to offer.
The village of Callanish is of course famous for the stones and provided our base for the next six days. During the time we were able to explore the cultural sites including The Blackhouse, Stornoway castle and the Callanish Stones themselves. Staying in a small farmhouse right next to the stones, we were able to see them in all sorts of light conditions at all times of the day and night. This was truly a great experience. From there is was only a short drive to the Arnol Blackhouse and museum, a fascinating insight into our not so distant past. Stornoway castle provided some wonderful vistas as you walk through the grounds. We also explored a part of the island called Uig and what a treat that was.
I thought I’d put together a little list of reasons you should visit Lewis. So below are a few of my favourite things to do and see and do.
- The BlackhouseThere are two preserved blackhouses on the island but for me the Arnol Blackhouse cannot be missed. Preserved to exactly how it was when the last families lived, this gives a real window into the past. The last families left in the 1960’s so it is really not so long ago that people were living in it. With all its original furniture and a peat burning fire it really gives you a great window into the past.
- I have visited the Stones of Callanish many times now and I still find them amazing. Speaking to someone there recently he said he found it a ‘spiritual experience’. Whatever your beliefs, you can’t fail to wonder at them and be impressed. The sheer age of them, the scale and the fact that nobody really knows what they mean, still blows my mind.
- I have been to Lewis several times and up until now had overlooked the corner of the island called Uig. This was big mistake because it is really special. The drive down to it is spectacular, with stunning vistas round every corner. At the end of whatever road you take you find exquisite, beautiful beaches. Usually there are very few people on them. It is without doubt a most beautiful part of the island and well worth a visit.
- Stornoway castle is set in extensive grounds and provides a lovely place for a walk. You have some great views over Stornoway, the bay, and further afield. The inside of the castle is really impressive and there is a museum as well.
- On the way to Uig, hang a right turn and let the road take you on a bridge over the Atlantic and onto the small island of Great Bernera. This beautiful road twists and turn and eventually brings you to Bostadh. Here you will find a stunning and quite sheltered beautiful sandy beach. There is also a tiny museum that is unmanned right next to the car park. This beautiful spot is well worth a visit.