Scottish Roadtrip Days 4 and 5: Isle of Lewis

Carnish beach

Day four started with a lie in then a crofters breakfast (fry up) at our hotel (The Royal Hotel in Stornoway); we’re on holiday, it would be rude not to! After breakfast we jumped in the car to go to the Butt of Lewis, the most northerly point on the island, but somehow ended up driving to the lighthouse at the end of the Eye Peninsula, the most easterly point! We had been planning on going there anyway, so it wasn’t too much of a problem, we just headed back to Stornoway and started again, this time finding the A857 over the moors to the west coast, then up to the Butt of Lewis. Stornoway reminded me a bit of Reykjavik and the villages on the way up the coast reminded me of these remote arctic villages you sometimes see on TV, but I guess they aren’t too far off that, being remote themselves. The lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis was suitably impressive, as were the cliffs, we had a wonder around, took some photos and headed back down the coast to pick up the A858 to take the long way back to Stornoway.

The A858 is another great driving road, quite tight and twisty is places, generally well sighted but with lochs right next to the road with no crash barriers to give you a reality check! The traffic was next to non-existent so we were able to keep a good pace, but still slow down to check out the tourist signs, early afternoon the rain even stopped so we could get the roof down! The two main sights to see on the route are the Carloway Broch and the Callanish standing stones. We initially drove past Carloway and went straight to the Callanish Stones visitor centre, where we saw a familiar looking coach, it turned out that we weren’t the only people from Warwickshire on the island. As seemingly the main visitor attraction on the island, the visitor centre was suitably impressive, with cafe, shop and audio visual guide to the history of the stones and other sights on the island, including what we had driven past in Carloway (it hadn’t clicked that the Broch signposted was the one that we’d seen a picture of at lunchtime). We walked up the smalls hill to the standing stones, which we were free to walk around before heading back up the road to see the Broch, I actually thought this was more impressive than the standing stones, even if it was only the remains of someone’s (albeit impressive) house, rather than of spiritual importance. We were able to climb all over the ruins of the Broch, which I’m sure would be a health and safety inspectors nightmare. With the sightseeing done, we pointed the little Mazda back down the A858 towards Stornoway and after a walk around the town had a great dinner in the hotel.

Day 5 started much the same as day 4, but the rain was heavier! Our only plan for the day was to drive to Carnish, which according to Google would have only taken us an hour, so we decided to explore the grounds of Stornoway Castle. Unfortunately we couldn’t visit the castle as it is being refurbished, so we got absolutely soaked walking through the woods and admiring the view over the town, eventually ending up in the cafe for a nice warm drink.

Rather than heading straight to Carnish we went via the Ravenspoint centre, just off the A859, which is the road to Tarbert, we’ll be going that way tomorrow, but probably will not have time for sightseeing as we’ll have a ferry to catch. The road was much like the A858, so it will good to drive again! The Ravenspoint centre is a small community run shop/museum/cafe next to Loch Eireasort, we had a nice lunch and I took some photos over the loch.

To get to Carnish we had to head back up the A859, back along the A858, although not quite as far a Callanish then down the B8011, which seemed to switch between a new/old road surface and single track/two lane road, which made for an interesting drive. At around Miavaig we saw a sign for “Circular sightseeing route”, which of course we had to take, it was well worth the 20 minute detour to get a taste of the lovely beaches this area has to offer. The best beach however, is the massive one at Uig, which dominates the view out of our bedroom window at Auberge Carnish, a great recommendation by Rachel! Almost as soon as we had checked in we walked straight down to the beach, only to find that we were cut off from the main expanse of it by a river, so had to settle for the smaller, but equally beautiful Carnish beach (in the photo), which we had all to ourselves!

The day ended with a great Scottish/French fusion meal at the hotel, certainly one of the best I’ve had!

Mileage so far: 737