Isle Of Lewis
Anchored in the North Atlantic waters to the West of mainland Scotland is the Isle of Lewis, the largest isle of the Outer Hebrides and a place I have wanted to visit for a very long time. Over the years we have been working our way up the Western coastline of Scotland and its many islands during the half term holidays but felt we would need a few more days for this trip. So a holiday cottage was booked in Barvas (Barabhas) on the Western side of the island for ten days, giving us a couple of days each side to break up the drive with the wee man.
Our first day was one of rain and wind but the evening made up for it.
After our arrival on the island we were greeted with the well known winds and a full day of rain. Normally we would be in a camper or perched on top of our old Landrover in a roof tent waiting it out but this time and for the first time in nearly ten years we sat in comfort in our lovely cottage relaxing and quickly letting the stresses of the real world fade away. As the afternoon turned into evening the winds dropped ever so slightly and the glimmer of a sunset was promised.
Our first day was to set a president for the rest of our stay where a few hours of sunshine could quite easily be followed with a few hours of rain and wind that could cut you in half. Actually the wind never really left us for the whole holiday, it just varied in how much it would beat us and left us guessing continually to what weather it may bring with it.
You would have to be pretty hardy to live out in these conditions all year round.
My preconceptions of Lewis were a little off as in my head it was completely surrounded by white sandy beaches, rugged but beautiful mountains and areas of peat bog. Although it has all these fine attributes, my ratios were a slightly out. The North of Lewis is relatively flat and mainly made up of rugged coastlines with beautiful beaches and coves, inland it is a huge peat covered plateau. The South of Lewis has an amazing amount of fresh water lochs and this really helps shape this amazing landscape before then heading in to Harris where the land mass changes to a more rugged mountainous area.
A cyclist battling through the weather heading South on the Hebridean way.
We spent most of our time exploring Lewis with only one day down as far as Harris (that was so I could have an excuse to buy some of the new but already famous Harris Gin). On Lewis alone there is plenty to see and do, with evidence of human habitation dating back nearly 8000 years and archaeological remains dating back as far as 5000 years it is steeped in history, myths and legends. There are many amazing sights to be seen including the Callanish stones, an Iron Age house, the famous Black Houses and Norse Mills are just a few to get your teeth stuck into.
The one thing that really struck me on this trip was just how many ruins and reminders of past life and cultures there are scattered all over the island. The newer White houses with no roofs or windows, the standing walls of old Black houses and their remains of barns and walled areas in which they would keep their animals. Buses, cars and the like left for the sea winds and island to reclaim over time.
The beaches were as amazing as I hoped
The rugged coastline and cliffs were equally as amazing.
Islands are often all about the sea, beaches and hidden coves and Lewis certainly did not disappoint on any level. Each section of coastline had its own charm, beauty and ruggedness in spectacular quantities. We spent hours walking the quiet sandy beaches, building sand castles and walking in the dunes. Equally we spent as much time driving the remote island roads to rugged cliffs and coastlines, looking for ruins of past inhabitants and picking our way through the imposing rocky landscape.
For some, holidays like this offer nothing. The lure of sun, cocktail bars and crowded beaches seems far more appealing. For me the Isle Of Lewis offers everything and more, so much so I am already planning my next visit. I would love to cycle the Hebridean Way, hike in the mountains on Harris and sleep wild in any of the remote but beautiful locations it has to offer. As I write this these are things to do on my own but soon Harri will be old enough to also enjoy this with me.