The Outer Hebrides or Western Isles are located off the West Coast of Scotland. Lewis is part of the largest island and is separated from Harris by a chain of rocky mountains. The 2 are referred to as the Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Harris respectively, yet they occupy the same landmass.
If you arrive on the ferry from Ullapool, Stornoway is likely to be the first place you visit on the island. It is the largest settlement in the Western Isles. Perhaps not as picturesque as the other parts of the island, Stornoway has more home comforts, including shopping, a museum and an Art Centre, which also happens to be one of the best places to get WiFi with your drink and meal.
Butt of Lewis
Found at the northernmost tip of Lewis, an information board on site explains that the lighthouse appeared in the Guinness Book of Records some years ago, as the windiest place in the UK. It appears that other places have laid claim to that title, but there is still abundant wind on Lewis, so take care when walking near the cliff edge!
One of the best places to surf in the Outer Hebrides. The surfers were still going strong late into the evening, when this photo was taken. I think this was the busiest beach I came across on my trip. Do you have a favourite surfing beach in the UK?
At Gearannan, a derelict crofters' village in a scenic position on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, has been restored. It is now possible to stay in the blackhouses which are authentic outside, but inside offer more up to date amenities to residents, than the original occupants enjoyed.
Dating to the 1st century BC, Dùn Carloway is the best preserved broch in the Western Isles. Archaeologists disagree on the function of these round towers. The theory proposed at the site is that it was a display of power by the local chieftain. Do you have a theory as to why these brochs were built?
Callanish standing stones
The most popular visitor attraction in the Western Isles, Callanish standing stones comprise an avenue and rows of stones erected around a circle to form a cruciform. Construction started 5,000 years ago with the 13 metre diameter circle, the rows of stones were added in later years, finally a burial tomb was built in the circle. The site fell out of use 3,000 years ago and the area site was farmed until peat enveloped the site. Then in the 1857 the peat was cleared to allow the stones full height to be appreciated.There is a visitor centre with a tea room at the site.
Bosta, Great Bernera
The island of Great Bernera is an island that has been connected to Lewis since the construction of the world’s pre-stressed concrete bridge in 1953. Bosta is a perfect site for a picnic. It is also the site of an Iron Age village exposed by a storm in 1993. You can visit a reconstructed Iron Age house on the site. It is also one of the sites for a Time and Tide bell, although it did not ring at high tide when I was there. Does anyone know if it still sounds?
Highland coo, Lewis
A Scottish photo essay without a Highland cow? Sorry, I couldn't resist. This is just a taster of what to expect when you visit Lewis. Of course the Outer Hebrides has lots more to visit including Harris, the Uists and Barra.
All photographs by John Williams. Read more blog posts about stone circles and coastal beauty: Things you didn’t know about…Stonehenge, Hiking England’s Jurassic Coast or The Antrim Coast: Mythical Giants and incredible geology.