The Outer Hebrides 2013

We set off for our trip to the Hebrides on Saturday 29th June. We both had a busy week in the run up to the holiday with Duncan’s graduation on the Thursday and a wedding  on the Friday. This meant I was not as prepared for this trip as I would have liked. Normally I have my itinerary planned well in advance and all my campsites booked. This time, although we had booked the ferry tickets months ago, the only night we had booked was the Saturday at Bunree near Fort William.

The weather on the way up was dry but dull and the roads were fairly busy with holiday traffic but we arrived at Bunree late afternoon and spent a relaxing evening in the van. Next morning the rain poured as we packed up to head for Ullapool.

About half way to Ullapool the weather cleared and we were able to enjoy the scenery, especially along the side of Loch Ness. We stopped for lunch in Drumnadrochit but we didn’t see any sign of Nessie. Heading on up the road it wasn’t too long before we arrived in Ullapool.

As we approached Ullapool we spotted a cruise ship in the bay. On googling the name we discovered it was called the World and is a floating residence with studios starting at $600000 up to $12950000 with fees of $20000 a month. Maybe we’ll think about ir when we retire!! We spent the afternoon in Ullapool before boarding the ferry for Stornaway. The crossing was a bit rough but not too bad.

On arrival we headed off to find a spot for the night. We turned down a road that seemed to head towards the sea and came across a wee pier next to a small white sandy cove. We pitched up and spent a while playing with the dogs on the beach before calling it a night.

Our first full day in Lewis saw us heading into Stornaway. We parked up at the Harbour and headed into town to find a Post Office to post a wee parcel to Arlene. A quick stop at the Tourist Information to pick up some leaflets and we were ready to explore.

We decided to do a circular route around the centre of the Island and after a false start we found the correct road. First stop was the Callenish standing stones.There are three stone circles and we stopped en route to see the smaller ones before heading to the main site and visitors centre. The stones are about 5000 years old and although there is speculation as to their purpose no one can be sure of why they were erected in such a fashion. It is an impressive site and well worth a visit if you are in the area.

From here we headed off to the Carloway Broch. This is one of the best preserved Brochs. We had previously visited one in North Uist and probably will again but this one was a bit different. You can really see the two wall structure and some of the stairway is still there. Again no one can be sure of the true purpose of these but it is possible they were dwellings for the more important villagers in the past.

Our next stop today was the Blackhouse Village. We were amazed to discover that the inhabitants only left for council housing in 1974. The actual cottages were much more spacious inside than they looked from the exterior and some have been refurbished and can be hired as self catering accommodation. The view from the bottom of th village onto the Atlantic was spectacular and the colours in the sand and sea made you feel as though you were somewhere hot and exotic!!

Our final touristy thing of the day was to visit the whalebone arch. It is the jawbone of a blue whale and it is enormous. It must be from a time when whaling was part of Island life.

We did a bit more driving about looking for another nice spot to park up for the night but we didn’t find one we liked better that our original so we are back here again for this evening.

Tomorrow we intend to investigate the south of Lewis and maybe head in to Harris with a view to exploring Harris on Wednesday. I still want to pay a visit to a working Harris Tweed mill and pick up a few pieces from the place itself. Probably grab a Stornaway Black Pudding too before we head off to the Uists.

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