Today would be the day we had designed to explore the Isle of Lewis. Since we had already visited the Callanish stones, we allowed ourselves a leisurely morning for a change. Our trip would take us all the way back to the Callanish stones before we visited the Dun Carloway Broch.
A broch has been described as a fort, or stronghold. There are many scattered throughout the northern seashore areas of Scotland. As luck would have it, the Dun Darlowy Broch was having extensive repairs to keep it from total deterioration. We still did the walk up and enjoyed the view. Bill and I once took a long downhill hike to the Burg Eltz castle, only to find it covered with casing and scaffolding. This was not nearly the disappointment.
Up the main road was the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, a cluster of houses whose last inhabitants vacated in 1974. The site was recognized for its historical value in 1976. There are two of these thatched roof structures that are rented out tourist. We had tried to secure one for this trip but at the time, the lodgings were not made available to foreigners. One of the homes had been restored to what it may have looked like back in the day. One side was the lodging area and in the other was a large loom used for weaving tweed. Even though a tourbus had offloaded there it nearly seemed as though we had the place to ourselves. What a beautiful location the inhabitants left behind.
We made a quick stop at a shieling (smallhut) reproduction along the roadside and took in one more visit to the highland cows. They are just so stickin’ adorable!
We then went in search of Clach an Trushal or the Trushal Stone. This stone stands 15.5 feet high and is said to be the tallest standing stone in all of Scotland. It is located down a narrow secondary road in what nearly seems to be in a farmer’s field. In fact, when we turned the corner to the site there was a cow who had escape the fence and was contentedly hanging out on way truly was less green grass on the other side. Without someone standing next to the stone it is impossible to judge the height.
The last place on our list of “must-does” today was the Butt. Yes, the Butt of Lewis. We had visited the southern-most location on the Isle of Harris and the Butt was the northernmost location on the Isle of Lewis. There was a lighthouse there and very spectacular cliffs. My sister Sally truly pushed her comfort zone peering over those jagged edges. The water was so blue, the wind was blustery and cold ,but the sense of adventure really made it seem quite tolerable. (That’s Bill on the edge of the cliff with the lighthouse to the right!)
Upon returning to Stornoway we trekked up to the War Memorial. I was confused in thinking that this was in honor of the 205 servicemen lost on the HMS Iolaire returning from WWI. The boat carried soldiers home and as loved ones watched from shore on New Year’s Day 1919, it struck rocks and sank. Lost lives included 174 men from Lewis and 7 from Harris. Their names are included as war dead at the War Memorial. It is said that not a single family on both Isles escaped the pain of this loss.
We returned to town and while Sally and I shopped and wandered, Bill made friends with two lovely men from the Merchant Marines, John and Nick. After a joining them for a bit, Bill and I grabbed some genuine Scotch broth for dinner while Sally enjoyed a bowl of carrot and coriander soup. (Hers was better!). Tomorrow we head back to the mainland and (hopefully) Sally’s luggage.