a Harris journal : day 6 : history day

back over the col to Lewis

and back in time, too, to visit some of the island’s heritage sites. (Click on pictures to enlarge)

Gearrannan Village from up the hill

The last inhabitants of Gearrannan blackhouse village left in the 1970’s.

Gearrannan High Street

Until recently it was, in part, a youth hostel. Today, some of the buildings are available as holiday rental properties.

Gearrannan : a wee place for a sit

But it does survive as a remarkable example of a recently-vanished way of life, and its setting is both beautiful and also rather exposed.

On the Atlantic coast of Lewis, this would have been a wild place on a stormy day.

Gearrannan : Outlook Canada

Inside, however, it’s a bit cosier than the style of blockhouse living we’d seen in the Highland Village at Newtonmore (see the sequence of pictures here)

By the 1970’s, blackhouse living had come on a bit: in the rooms lined wooden walls where in earlier times had just been rubble and turf; heating from a fire in a grate, with a fireplace and enclosed chimney, replacing the open peat fire smoking away in the middle of the floor which gave the blackhouses their name

Gearrannan : blackhouse interior (1) Gearrannan : blackhouse interior (2)

Gearrannan : blackhouse interior (3) Gearrannan : blackhouse interior (4)

and the tweed loom had replacing the cattle in the back room.

From Gearrannan we moved on down the coast of Loch Rog an Ear to Tolastadh a’Chaolais


and thence to Calanais, or Callanish…


As previously remarked, the Hebridean landscape differs from that of west Highland Scotland in the omnipresence of its human habitation: and that’s as true of the very oldest human corners as anywhere else. Unlike the similarly ancient Stonehenge, Callanish is today still directly adjacent to modern houses...

Calanais - the stones and the village

… as much a part of the village today as it must have been throughout the last 3000 years

Calanais: stones, ancient and pre-modern

Calanais: stones and a fish farm

From Calanais, it’s time to head back to Harris, but the stunning light developing means there have to be a few more photo-stops before we leave Lewis for the last time (this trip, anyway…)

So here’s four pictures to mark our farewell to Lewis for 2011…

Calanais lochs

By Balallan and Loch Erisort

Toward the mouth of Loch Seaforth

Farewell to Loch Seaforth


a Harris journal : day 5 : to Lewis

and in Stornaway, the economy seems to have run aground

Stornanway street sculpture (ho, ho)

though elsewhere in Lewis the island light is as pure and as stunning as ever

Ruin by Loch Shiphoirt (1)

these abandoned homes sit above Loch Seaforth (Shiophoirt) alongside the main Harris <-> Lewis road

Ruin by Loch Shiphoirt (2)

and there’s rain in the air once again as we climb back over the pass into Harris

a Harris journal : day 1 : arrival

as we left Uig on Skye the rain seemed to sweep in and swallow it up behind us

Leaving Uig, Skye

When we reached Tarbert on Harris, the rain was horizontal

Arriving in Tarbert, Harris

No access to our cottage til later in the day, so off we head to Stornoway, where ancient fishing boats come to linger in reminiscence

Stornoway Harbour

of herring girls long-gone
.....................................................Herring Girl Statue, Stornoway

Then it’s back down to Harris, and there’s now some hope of sunshine in the afternoon air
Loch Erisort, Lewis

The boundary between Harris and Lewis seems as much a matter of geology as politics, as we cross it at the bottom of the pass over the North Harris mountains which lie between Ardhasaig and Loch Seaforth.

Loch Seaforth, Lewis, from the Harris road

Ardhasaig will be our base for the next week. We picked it for its apparent potential for stunning views of mountains, loch and ocean. For now, it’s enough to settle in as gloomy turns to gentle island gloaming

West Loch Tarbert from Ardhasaig

Some light, eh!!!