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    Tour Isle of Lewis, Hebrides

    Welcome to Lewis or Eilean Leodhas in Gaelic. 

    Tell me a little about a Tour of the Isle of Lewis

    Lewis is one of the ten populated islands comprising the Western Isles and boasts a population of over 20,000. The island has a strong Gaelic culture combined with a long history and heritage dating back to prehistoric times as manifested in such sites as the Callanish Stones, Lewis Chessmen, Black Houses, Iron-Age Broch, a Viking era Mill and a vibrant clan history (Morrison, Nicolson, etc.). In addition to many interesting historic and clan sites, Lewis offers some magnificent scenery coupled with a traditional crofting landscape which affords opportunities for photography, golf and hiking.

    Tell me more about a Tour of the Isle of Lewis 

    In common with the other Western Isles, Lewis (the name may mean ‘marshy place’) is located on the extreme western edge of the European continent and is an area of outstanding scientific interest. South Lewis together with Harris and North Uist has been designated an area of outstanding scenic value by Scottish Natural Heritage. On arrival the visitor will notice vast expanses of peat and heather which cover a major part of the island between the deep-sea water cliffs of the east and the battered, Atlantic coastline of the west with adjacent fertile machair lands. The peat (decayed vegetation) is still used as a fuel by the islanders.

    Below is provided a summary of the key sites and places to visit. However, all visitors should be aware that the islanders have a strong Presbyterian tradition and the Sabbath (Sunday) is widely respected and hence many commercial operations are closed on Sundays.

    Stornoway is the principal town with population of some 8,000. It is located on the east side of the island and has both airport and sea port. Places to see here include Lews Castle grounds, Island Museum and the Lewis Loom Centre.

    Bosta Iron Age House at Bosta Beach on the Isle of Great Bernera. Here is a reconstructed Iron-Age dwelling which is open to the public during the summer period.

    Callanish Stones. In terms of importance and grandeur, this site ranks alongside Stonehenge, Avebury and the Ring of Brodgar (Orkney). The site, which dates from about 2000BC, is very complex comprising a diminutive stone circle, a central stone, an avenue, three rows and a chambered tomb. In common with other sites close by, the stones are aligned with the setting positions of the moon. The principal site is known as Callanish I and this forms part of a larger complex of stone circles, stone rows and single standing stones which is collectively known at the Callanish Complex and embraces a complex of some 20 or more sites, all with a few miles radius of Callanish I.

    Doune Broch Centre, Carloway. This is the best preserved broch in the Western Isles and ranks alongside equivalent structures on the mainland and elsewhere. A broch is an iron-age, high status, fortified dwelling of a type unique to Scotland.

    Gearrannan Blackhouse Village. A former community which has been converted to a museum and visitor centre. Here visitors can obtain an appreciation for the traditional way of life and living accommodation which prevailed in some cases through to the 1970s. The weaving of Harris Tweed cloth by home workers was an important source of income. Superb coastal location.

    Shawbost Museum. This comprises two Scandinavian influenced, renovated buildings used in the past to convert barley grain into meal.

    Arnol Blackhouse Museum. This is a traditional, island thatched house with visitor centre featuring real fires and other effects to replicate living conditions in bygone days.

    Whalebone Arch. Located close to Bragar, the arch is comprised of the lower jaw bones of a Blue Whale dating from 1920.

    Clach an Truiseal. This is a 5.7 metre high single stone monolith located close to the shore in Ballantrushal. In the past it may have formed part of a larger prehistoric stone complex or circle.

    Steinacleit. This prehistoric site is close to Lower Shader and contains the remains of chambered cairn with upright slabs which sits within a stone oval some 269ft (82m) in diameter. The site dates from 5000BC to 3000BC.

    Ness Heritage Centre. Located at Habost, this is an excellent locally run information centre covering both local history and family history. Refreshments are also available.

    Port of Ness. A pleasant village and port situated at the northern tip of Lewis. Boasts a top class restaurant, craft shop, book shop and gallery.

    Butt of Lewis Lighthouse. A Stevenson designed structure dating from 1862 and featuring a 37 metre high tower. Great location to view the seascape and breathe the fresh, sea air!

    Abhainn Dearg Distillery. Lewis’s only whisky distillery. Visiting by appointment.

    Dun Eistean  (Sometimes Dun Eistean or Dun Uisdean).Here, located on a small islet surrounded by rocky slopes, are the remains of a historic fort which is where the Morrisons made their last stand against the MacLeods in the 16th century. As will be evident from the video clip, there exist only superficial remains of the settlement and fort. However, the site has been subject to extensive archaeological investigation by the University of Glasgow. More information can be found at Ness Heritage Centre, Habost.

    Isle of Lewis Clans

    It is believed that the original clans on Lewis comprised the Morrisons, Nicolsons and MacAulays, all of which may have shared Norse ancestry. The Macleods, who may have been descended from Harald the Black of Iceland, dominated much of the history of Lewis.

    What else can I see and do on the Isle of Lewis?

    Hiking on Lewis: For the active there is a wide range of walking routes covering most parts of the island and connecting with sites such as the Butt of Lewis, Carloway Broch, Callanish Stones, Bosta Sands, Scalaval Hill, Berie Sands, Uig Sands, Loch Langavat, Stornoway Woods, Tiumpan Head and Tolsta Head, 

    Golf on Lewis: At Stornoway.

    Fishing on Lewis: Trout and Salmon

    Bird Watching on Lewis: Sites such as Butt of Lewis, Loch Stiapavat, Loch Ordais, Carloway and Callanish, Stornoway, Steinish, Loch Branahuie and Braigh, Tiumpan Head and North Tolsta.

    Visit Harris: Harris is adjacent to Lewis. The scenery is mountainous and the area is famous for manufacture of Harris Tweed cloth.

    How can Catswhiskerstours help with a Tour of the Isle of Lewis?

    We can provide:-

    • A customised, guided tour with focus on such topics as personal ancestry, prehistory, Harris Tweed manufacture, photography or other,
    • A customised, self-drive (driving) tour with rental car, lodgings with breakfast and itinerary.

    For more information and help contact Nigel-
    T  44 (0) 141 638 5500

    We look forward to hearing from you! 

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