Summer in Scotland: does such a thing exist? Can the rain possibly stay away for our trip? We would soon find out as August arrived and we made our way to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, off the North-West coast of Scotland.
For this trip, a car is essential. We drove from Glasgow, through Glen Coe to catch the ferry from Uig on the Isle of Skye. After a sailing of around an hour, you arrive in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris, and a further drive of an hour brings you to the Isle of Lewis. (Lewis and Harris are actually the same Island). We’d have to recommend ‘First Fruits’ as the perfect lunch stop in Tarbert, as soon as you have left the ferry.
From the car, the journey is enjoyable. Fantastic roads (much better than mainland UK) and stunning scenery makes for a pleasant drive North up the Island.
The Atlantic Longhouse – Aird Uig
We had the pleasure of staying in the ‘Atlantic Longhouse’ on the North-West of the Island and it really is the perfect place to ‘get away from it all.’ A quirky two-bedroom apartment that comes with a stove and the offer of home-made bread on arrival is situated behind a cliff with probably the most impressive breakfast view you could have. Behind the cabin there is also a path down to a private pebble beach, great for an early morning stroll.
The Perfect Escape
Breakfast with a View
Private Pebble Beach
Close to the house lies an abandoned RAF listening station. It’s great for exploring the abandoned buildings although most lie empty (and can be slightly eerie at night). It’s also a good spot for incredible sunsets.
Abandoned RAF buildings…
…and stunning sunsets!
Stornoway – The Capital
A visit to the Capital, Stornoway, is a must. Boasting the only supermarket on the island and the largest selection of facilities, it’s definitely the place to stock up before heading back out into the sticks. We’d recommend visits to Lews Castle and wandering around the grounds, having a walk around Stornoway Harbour and stopping for a coffee and cake in one of the many cafes.
On the island and especially in Stornoway, due to the Christian background, most places will be closed on a Sunday and Sunday newspapers aren’t available.
You may be familiar with the story of the Lewis Chessmen either from spotting them in the National Museum in Edinburgh or British Museum in London, or even as the subject matter for Scottish folk-singer Dougie Maclean’s song ‘Marching Mystery.’ These hand-carved Nordic chess pieces were discovered on Lewis. As well as collections in Edinburgh and London, you can also visit the Museum Nan Eilean in Stornoway to see some or else visit the beach where they were discovered (See below).
The famous Lewis Chessmen
The Scottish islands are famed for their beaches and Lewis is no different. White sands and clear blue water, add the sun to that mix and you could be in the mediterranean. Arguably the most well-known beach here is Uig Sands, the largest beach on the island. It is well known as the discovery of the Lewis Chessmen was made here. It’s also worth mentioning when you leave the ferry in Tarbert, a 20-minute diversion will allow you to visit the stunning Luskentyre beach on the Isle of Harris – definately worth a trip.
Clear Blue Waters
Life’s a beach! Fun at Crowlista Beach
The view down to Uig Sands
There are too many amazing beaches to include here so we’ve compiled a list in a seperate blog which you can find here.
Lewis on Foot
The best things to do in Lewis involve getting out on foot and exploring. With so many fantastic walks you can’t go wrong wherever you end up. Walks up to nearby radio masts, along any of the beaches or to the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse (the most Northerly point on the Island is also the windiest place in the UK) make for great days out.
Lewis on foot – the best way to discover!
Another site to visit is the famous Callanish Standing Stones (visit and wonder how this site was created as no one actually knows!) or visit the Blackhouses for a chance to see what it used to be like to live on the island many years ago.
Callanish Standing Stones
Meet the Locals!
There is plenty to see in Lewis and lots of wildlife is common. It’s not unusual to find sheep lounging in the middle of the road, to come across fields of horses, or to find Golden Eagles flying overhead.
Who needs Guard Dogs?
Our trip to the Isle of Lewis was one of the most enjoyable we’ve had. Plenty to do and see, and the scenery here is some of the best in the world. We’re already planning our next trip here!
Callanish Standing Stones
Museum Nan Eilean