Hidden away, just off the north west coast of mainland Scotland, is the Isle of Lewis. Never heard of the Isle of Lewis? I am not that surprised. I found that most people I spoke to in the UK (and pretty much the world) had no idea what I was talking about or where I was going. But this worked to my advantage as this hidden gem was pretty much all mine! Lewis is a part of the Outer Hebrides (or Western Isles) that expands down the majority of the westerly coast of Scotland. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be cruising around an island off Scotland. Lewis is pretty flat and is mainly made up of muddy moorlands but don’t let that description put you off. The flatness just means that driving around is a lot easier (note – their roads are mainly single lane with ‘Passing Places’) and quicker (watch out for the sheep – they do sometimes sleep on the road). To be honest, I have no idea what the speed limit most of the time actually was as speed signs are not exactly in abundance over there.
Stornoway is the big village on this island and it really is a humble little place. Plenty of quirky shops and the famous Harris Tweed is available for purchasing. Stornoway has the Lews Castle right in the centre. Unfortunately it is not open to the public yet but I found it interesting that a local university does utilise the space right next to the castle. May as well use the vacant space!
Some of the highlights of Lewis would be the following – the Butt of Lewis (a lighthouse at the most Northern point of the island), the Callanish Standing Stones (this is where all of my electronic equipment decided to stop working), Uig Sands (where the Lewis Cheesemen were found – Norse cheese pieces made out of walrus tusk), Carloway Broch (ancient structure), the blackhouses in Arnol and Gearannan, Iron Age village at Bostadh and St Columba”s Chapel (14th century and with a grave that (they think) depicts a Knights Templar). Of course there are others but these were some of my favourite things to see on Lewis. My first activity was a sight seeing tour that leaves Milaveig on a little boat. I did a sea eagles and birds tour but I saw a lot more than that! Other than the Arctic Terns and Sea Eagles I did see the Atlantic Grey and Common Seal and a Puffin flying away. This tour is also known to see plenty of Basking Sharks and sometimes the odd orca (which I would not like to see up that close!).
Weather wise, well um, expect wind and rain. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it was literally windy and short, lightish showers constantly. I assume those who live there actually see the sun every now and again? I never actually saw it as it was always covered by some menacing looking clouds that are constantly hovering. The wind and rain isn’t bad but just make sure that you are prepared for it! Layer it up people! I had a singlet, scevy, t-shirt, vest and then a jacket on, with sometimes a beanie, scarf or gloves to accompany.
If you want to do something off the beaten track but still has the history and views well check out the Isle of Lewis!
For more information check out visitouterhebrides.co.uk