What?Given the treacherous waters around Butt of Lewis, it is only natural there is a lighthouse there, but it's less usual for Scotland to put up a red brick lighthouse instead of white as most others areHistoryThe Butt of Lewis Lighthouse is 121ft high and was built between 1859 and 1862 by David and Thomas Stevenson, for a price of GBP 4,900 in...more
What?The Butt of Lewis is the northernmost point of the Western Isles. Next stop to the West is North America, next stop to the North is the Arctic. The Butt of Lewis itself comprises rocks and cliffs of 60 to 80 feet high - the attached picture is waves crashing upon the cliffs, shot from above.Aside from the photographers, ornithologists would...more
You'll find Lemreway in Lochs - South West Lewis. Its a tiny crofting village with an ever depleting population - the demographic shift! If you are a tourist or have a family of restless children, don't go there. If you are a traveller who loves to see picturesque hill sides, lochs, sheep(!), and one of the most beautiful bays in the world, this is...more
Just south of Port Nis, in the far north of Lewis, the village of Eoropaidh holds a tiny stone church set in the middle of a field. A narrow path between pastures leads up to this 12th-century structure, which is definitely worth a look. It's still in use today for occasional services.The history of this church is detailed in a pamphlet that's...more
The rocky eastern coast of South Harris is the more populated side of the island, although the land here is quite barren and harsh--parts of it resemble the moon! Many rural residents of Harris were forced to move here after being evicted from the more fertile areas to make room for sheep grazing. These days, the impossibly windy road that runs...more
It's not easy to reach the Uig Sands--you'll have to drive over single-track roads for about 45 minutes to get there from the main part of Lewis--but it's well worth a visit. The landscape is truly amazing, with rocky hills overlooking a massive area of sand flats. The flats are essentially a huge tidal pool, and you can watch the whole area slowly...more
Life in rural Scotland, from feudal times all the way through the mid-20th century, often meant residing in "blackhouses." These are long, low structures made of stone, thatch, and sod. Near the town of Carloway, the settlement of Gearrannan has a restored village of nine blackhouses that you can visit to get an idea of what life was like in...more
This prehistoric ruin, thought to date to 3000-1500 BC, features a circular pattern of almost 50 upright monoliths. If nobody's around, you can sneak off the marked path and wander among the huge stones.Just out of view of the stone circle, there's a fairly hideous visitor center and museum about the site. I'd recommend skipping this part--there...more
The interior landscape of the northern part of the Isle of Lewis is some of the most desolate I've ever seen outside a desert. This is a very empty island for the most part, and the word that comes to mind is "bleak." Nevertheless, there are still people living in in the most barren and isolated places. This tiny stone house (on the right side of...more
At the northern end of the island, the amusingly named Butt of Lewis holds a lighthouse that pokes up above a lovely cliffside landscape. This is a fantastic place to do some birdwatching--bring the binoculars! The winds and the topography of the high cliffs create a mixture of air currents that act as a huge playground for all kinds of sea birds....more
This restaurant, in the middle of nowhere near Timsgearraidh, is housed in a former RAF station along with a small B&B and hostel. If you're staying in this area, Bonaventure is one of the only options for a meal, and luckily, it's quite good! The menu combines local ingredients with French-inspired preparation, along with other influences. There is a fine wine list.
If you're going to eat here, plan ahead. Reservations are essential.
If you're driving around Lewis and Harris, you won't find traffic jams, but you will be challenged by the ubiquitous single-track roads. Most of the roads here are reasonably well paved, but many of them are only wide enough to let a single car pass. Every few hundred meters, there's a wider spot in the road where cars can pull out and wait for an oncoming vehicle to pass by. The etiquette of who keeps moving and who has to stop and wait takes a bit of time to learn. An essential part of the process is the little wave you give to the other driver as your cars pass each other!
This part of Scotland is strongly religious, following the precepts of the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). As a result, unlike many other areas in the UK, it can be pretty hard to find a pub in Lewis and Harris. It's also difficult to find open businesses, including restaurants, on Sundays. If you'll be here on a Sunday, be sure to plan ahead so that you won't be caught starving!