England and Scotland, May 2005 : Day 6
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Day 6, Tuesday: Les had promised to take me out to Harris and Lewis, islands in the Outer Hebrides (AKA The Western Isles), so on Tuesday we got up early and headed out for an overnight trip. Judy had to work and was unable to go with us, so it was just Les and myself. We drove south a little way to the A87, then took that northwest across the Highlands. This was a beautiful drive, and some of the mountains were very dramatic, painted by the early morning light and capped with snow-topped peaks.

We could not tarry on the way out because we had to catch the ferry, but we did stop a few times so I could get photos of the scenery, including some early morning photos of Eilean Donan Castle, located about where Loch Duich and Loch Alsh meet. Then on a bit further to the Isle of Skye, and across the island to Uig for the ferry. The ferry took us out Loch Snizort and across to Tarbert on Harris. There were lots of beautiful views both leaving Skye and arriving at Harris, including a fairly distant view of a lighthouse on Scalpay, a small island just off Harris (apparently connected to the main island via a bridge, but we did not go that way).

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Captain Fraser's Folly
(from 1890's)

Coast of Skye

Departing Skye

Lighthouse on Scalpay, with the
main island in the background

Arriving in East Loch Tarbert

Approaching Tarbert

Physically, Harris and Lewis consist of a single island - there is one very narrow point, obvious when looking at a map or even when driving through Tarbert, the town there, but this in fact is in the middle of Harris rather than defining the separation from Lewis. Together, this is the largest isle in the Outer Hebrides.

After landing at Tarbert, we drove northwest towards Hushinish. The roads are narrow on the island, with dramatic scenery to distract. We passed a modest tennis court (marked on the map I have of the island!), and stopped at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, now a luxury hotel.

Les' car

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle

Stream leading into the bay in
front of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle

Just past the castle

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle

Recently cut peat, left to dry

Hushinish Bay

Les used to visit these islands frequently, and once we reached the scenic Hushinish Bay, he turned right on a road not on my map, and drove us a bit further to an even more scenic beach. There we spent some time wandering around taking it all in. Across the water was Scarp, another small island off the main island. The light was excellent, and brilliant turquise water accented the beaches.

Les enjoys the scenery


Hushinish Bay again

Heading back the way we came

Before coming to the island I had done a bit of research, and one place I really wanted to visit was Gearrannan, an old Blackhouse village, based largely on a beautiful photo in a Rough Guides book. Gearrannan is a former crofting village on the west coat of Lewis, near Callanish.

To be honest, we were a bit disappointed here - while interesting, the houses, from the outside at least, looked almost new, which rather detracted, I thought. The village has been restored and is now used for self-catering rooms as well as a hostel. Perhaps when the roofs weather some more. (We same some other thatched-roof houses later which were more satisfying.) You have to pay to get into the village to look around, although it is interesting - we were given a demonstration of a working old loom, for instance.

From Gearrannan, we backtracked to Callanish and found a bed & breakfast to stay at (Loch Roag - wonderful traditional Scottish breakfast), then continued to explore the area.

First, we visited Carloway Broch, one of the better-preserved brochs. Then on to the main highlight of the area, the Callenish Stones for which the area is well-known. In fact, there are other, smaller standing stone arrangements in the area - at least three, joined by a trail. At one, I went to the side to photograph an apparently-abandoned house, and was mobbed by sheep who probably thought I would feed them. I felt quite bad about misleading them. (The photo below doesn't show most of the sheep.)


Carloway Broch

Carloway Broch

Inside Carloway Broch

Carloway Broch

Callenish Stones

Callenish Stones

Callenish Stones

Other stones

Hungry sheep

Callenish Stones seen from another standing stone site nearby

Me, at a smaller standing stone site

Me again

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