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Harbour at Ness, Isle of Lewis

Quick tour guide to days out in Lewis and Harris.

These are suggestions for trips away and places to visit.  It isn’t a full guide by any stretch of the imagination, but throughout the site, there are links with further information for you to plan your own itinerary.

The Circular Tour:

This tour can take a morning, or an entire day (or more) depending on how long you stay at each venue. If you travelled the entire route without stopping it would take about two hours from the cottage, so should you decide to take your time, you could always finish it on another day!  It also starts at Garynahine turn off, so doesn’t include Great Bernera.

Starting at Garynahine road end and travelling to Callanish, the first stop is –

Callanish Stones

They have stood for 4000 years on the headland overlooking Loch Roag, 53 pale grey stones of Lewisian Gneiss. Older than Stonehenge they rank second in importance.  There are several stone circles, and many standing stones on Lewis, a further guide and map can be found at the Callanish Visitors Centre, there is even a ‘flat’ circle.  This is a great stop for both adults and children, full of mystery as nobody really knows the full meaning of the circle although theories abound.  One person you mustn’t miss when visiting the Callanish Stones is:

Cailleach na Mointeach

Local people call her “Sleeping Beauty” in English or “Cailleach na Mointeach” in Gaelic – which translates as “The Old Woman of the Moors” a recumbent landscape Goddess. Sadly many visitors to Callanish miss her completely as they focus on the stones, neglecting to look at the contour of the skyline behind them.

Further Information:
Callanish Visitor Centre
The Megalithic Portal
Stones of Wonder

Dun Carloway, or Dun Charlabhaigh (The Broch)

The Broch is a Scottish Hill Fort, or some describe it as a fortified farmhouse, whatever, it is a remarkably well preserved – on the east side parts of the old wall still reaches to 9 metres tall. In place,s there are also more modern repairs to the east wall. Dun Carloway was probably built some time in the 1st century BC, and radiocarbon dating evidence from remains found in the broch show that it was last occupied around 1300 AD.  It is a place to explore as you climb up the hill to access the Broch its advantage point stands out as you can see for miles. On approach there is a very low entrance, kids love it, adults watch your head! But once inside the steps, tunnels and architecture are fascinating.

Further Information.

Undiscovered Scotland
Photos of Dun Carloway broch on the Ancient Scotland site
Dun Carloway broch on the Megalithic Portal
Panoramas of Carloway Broc

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

The last inhabitants of Gearrannan Village moved out in 1974 and it was left almost like a ‘Ghost Town’ for almost a decade. Now painstakingly restored it plays host to visitors from all over the world, giving each a glimpse into the history and past lifestyle of the Islanders.  The village can trace its history back 300 years and thanks to the dedicated people of Garenin Trust, who saved it from total ruin, you can now step back in time and compare Beach Bay Cottage with the original Blackhouses ‘in situ’.

Gearrannan Village

Great Bernera

The Bridge Over the Atlantic

Great Bernera, or simply Bernera, famous for its bridge across the Atlantic is well worth visiting.  The turnoff tor Bernera is midway between Garynahine and Uig, it’s a good place to spend an afternoon, or a day if you’re not in a hurry!

More information can be found –
Great Bernera
Undiscovered Scotland – Bernera

Near Stornoway

Ui Church  Burial place of the Lewis MacLeod Clan Chiefs.  Ui Church is a stunning ruin set in its own ancient cemetery and located a short drive from Stornoway, close to the airport.

Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln

It’s a bit of a walk (3/4 mile) from the car park to reach this ancient Mill, but the path is good and eventually, you reach two traditionally constructed and thatched stone buildings that are set into a small river valley. Both the mill and the kiln here were in operation until the late 1930’s. The mill was powered by the Allt nam Breac (which literally means “trout stream”), which is a small river that flows out of Loch Roinavat.

Review with further info:

Shawbost Museum

Whalebone Arch Bragar

The Whalebone Arch, erected by the former village postmaster Murdo Morrison, was formed from the jaw bones of a giant whale which beached itself and died in Bragar Bay after been harpooned by hunters. The whalebone was said to be the largest on record. It is over 20 feet high and 40 feet across.

The full story by Mary Macauley

Arnol Black House Museum:

The Blackhouse Museum at Arnol will be of particular interest to visitors at Beach Bay Cottage, taking the outside design and overall look and eco features into consideration, inside will be a case of ‘Spot the Difference’!

Arnol Black House Museum:

Once you leave Arnol the road will continue to Barvas, turn left for Ness, or right to get to Stornoway to continue the circular you could come back across the Pentland Road, alternatively the main road as depicted in our ‘Directions’ page.


Visit the Isle of Harris:

The Islands of Lewis and Harris are land linked so by going over the ‘Clisham’ you will get to visit the Isle of Harris.  Harris offers very different scenery and like Lewis has a magic of its own. It takes approximately an hour to drive to the ferry port of Tarbert, but go beyond and visit the many small villages and stunning beaches, yet still be home for tea!

Below are just a very small selection of the places to might like to visit in Harris.

Holmasaig Studio Gallery 
Ardbuidhe Art Gallery

Scarista Studio, S.W. Harris 
Skoon Art Café, Geocrab, Harris

Harris Tweed and Knitwear
Seallam Visitor Centre

St. Kilda:

St Kilda (Gaelic: Hiort) is an isolated archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean. It contains the westernmost islands of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  The largest island is Hirta, whose sea cliffs are the highest in the United Kingdom.

The entire archipelago is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It became one of Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites in 1986 and is one of the few in the world to hold joint status for its natural and cultural qualities. The islands are a breeding ground for many important seabird species including Northern Gannets, Atlantic Puffins, and Northern Fulmars. The St Kilda Wren and St Kilda Field Mouse are endemic subspecies. Parties of volunteers work on the islands in the summer to restore the many ruined buildings the native St Kildans left behind. They share the island with a small military base established in 1957.

Source Wikimedia

Further Info:

National Trust for Scotland – St Kilda

 Boat trips from Lewis with day trips to St. Kilda.

Sea Trek is a short drive from the cottage.  They offer a range of excursions and opportunities to enjoy the spectacular scenery and wildlife the Outer Hebrides has to offer.
Island Cruising – based on the Isle of Lewis.
Kilda Cruises – From the Isle of Harris. Weather permitting, Angus Campbell will take you from Leverburgh for the day, but booking is essential.
Sea Harris -Daily trips if the weather permits, from the Isle of Harris to St Kilda. Seumas Morrison will take you across for the day and again book in advance.

Photo – right
Stac an Armin with Boreray behind and Stac Li in the distance.
Photo courtesy of Sea Trek.