What to see with one day on the Isle of Lewis. Outer Hebrides, Scotland

What to see with one day on Isle of Lewis

Isle of Lewis.

What can you see with only one day on the Isle of Lewis?

As it turns out, quite a bit!

Outer Hebrides.

The Isle of Lewis is at the northernmost end of a chain of islands known as the Outer Hebrides.

The Outer Hebrides are located on the Western side of Scotland.

When my mother and I traveled to Scotland in May, our itinerary was jam-packed. Seeing the Callanish (Calanais) standing stones was at the top of our “must-see” list. We both felt quite drawn to them. In order to accomplish this, we planned a one-day trip over to the Outer Hebrides.

Obviously, this isn’t near enough time to see all that there is to offer, but we knew that if we kept our focus to the Isle of Lewis, we’d be able to squeeze in quite a few sights.

Getting to the Isle of Lewis.

The Highlands portion of our travels was based out of Inverness, which we had flown into from London.

Our original plan was to use public forms of transportation over the duration of our trip since neither of us had any experience driving on the opposite side of the road. This meant that driving a car to catch the ferry in Ullapool wasn’t an original option.

Flight to Stornoway.

While not the most economical solution, we were determined to visit the Isle of Lewis and decided to take a flight with LoganAir roundtrip from Inverness to Stornoway. We booked a 7:00 a.m. flight with a return time of 5:00 p.m. There is still one later return flight, but our thought process was that if on some off chance that we missed our flight, there might still be an option to make it back to Inverness.

Car Hire (Rental).

Under the original plan, we were going to rely on the bus system on the Isle of Lewis to see as many sights as possible. Ultimately, we wanted the flexibility to move around at our own pace and my mom said she’d drive and I could navigate. We ended up booking a car through CarHire Hebrides. Given that I anticipated it would be stressful enough, we opted for an automatic (even though we are both capable of driving a manual).

Packing.

While we could have brought more luggage since we had a car, we traveled under the original scenario of a bag with our camera gear and essentials. We knew that our timeline would likely be tight and many parts of the Isle are secluded so we brought plenty of snacks in case we ended up taking a late lunch (which we actually never took).

Itinerary.

So on with the tour…

We caught the 5:25 a.m. bus from the Inverness Bus Station to the Inverness Airport. You might think we were the only ones waiting there that early in the morning, but there was actually a gentleman and his son there as well. They had arrived in town the night before…from… guess where? Stornoway! They lived there and were heading to the airport to catch a flight down to London.

The flight to Stornoway is only 45 minutes so we would have an early start to our day. After picking up the rental car, we were on our way!

I’ve included a google map of our route. Our original itinerary was somewhat flexible, but these were our ultimate stopping points. We knew that we would start with the Callanish standing stones because it was likely that by arriving that early in the morning, the tour buses wouldn’t have yet arrived.

Callanish (Calanais) Standing Stones.

The first stop was the Callanish standing stones.

The standing stones were built around 3,000 B.C. and predate Stonehenge by about 2,000 years. You can walk up to and around all of the stones.

If you read about the stones, there are actually multiple locations.

We visited Callanish I, II, and III.

I will be doing future posts where I detail more of my experience at many of the sights that I visited on the Isle of Lewis.

For today, I share my first view as I came up the entry pathway and turned the corner for my glimpse of the stones.

Dun Carloway.

Our next stop was Dun Carloway.

Dun Carloway is a broch, which, according to the signage at the location, are among Scotland’s most impressive prehistoric buildings.

They are stone roundhouses that date from about 2,300 to 1,900 years ago and are found mainly in north and west Scotland. They were primarily dwelling places for the principal family in the area.

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village.

This is a restored blackhouse village located along the Atlantic, which gives a view into the lives of the crofters and fishermen who would have lived there.

Our visit here was actually due to a miscommunication between my mother and me. She thought that I really wanted to see it and I thought that she really wanted to see it and so we went.

I will be doing a post on this stop in the future as well, but my key tip here is to get there early. The parking area was full and congested. We eventually got a spot when someone pulled out. My preferential sites are usually focused on nature and the outdoors and this stop used up quite a bit of our time.

It’s fascinating, just time-consuming.

Had our time not been limited, I would have taken the coastal walk, which can be accessed from the Blackhouse Village, to our next destination.

Dalbeg Beach.

I perused many a blog and website sharing the splendors of the hidden and not so hidden beaches found on the Outer Hebrides.

It was likely that we would only have time to visit one or two (it turned out to be one) so I settled on Dalbeg Beach.

The views here were just as stunning as I expected.

I shared a closer look of the pebble bed (located on the left side of this photo) leading to the sea in this post.

Whalebone Arch.

After Dalbeg Beach, we began our drive toward the northernmost end of the Isle of Lewis.

We had a few sites that were on our “if we have time and if we see them and can find a place to park” list.

The one that we were able to manage was the Whalebone Arch.

The tale behind the Whalebone Arch is that in 1920, the corpse of an 80 ft long blue whale drifted into Bragar Bay.  It had a harpoon in its head. The villagers had to deal with the whale as it decomposed. The postmaster decided that the jawbone would make a nice addition to his gate. He also had the harpoon, which detonated as it was being cleaned and painted. Luckily, no one was hurt. The jawbone was raised, where it still stands today, 25 feet tall and weighing 4 tons, the harpoon located at its peak.

Port of Ness.

After that quick stop, we made our way to the Port of Ness.

The photos that I had seen of this harbor made we want to add it to the stops.

And the views did not disappoint.

According to the tourism website, this harbor sees local seamen off on their traditional annual journey to the island of Sula Sgeir where locals are licensed to catch gannet for food following in their ancestors’ traditional footsteps.

I loved the blues of the water at Port of Ness and will be sharing more photographs from there, but you can see another of the photos that I shared from that stop in this post.

 Butt of Lewis Lighthouse.

Finally, we arrived at the Butt of Lewis.

The Butt of Lewis is mentioned as the windiest place in the UK. I can attest to the fact that is was extremely windy. The lighthouse stands 121 ft high and is constructed of red brick and unpainted. We walked along the cliffs (not close to the edge!!), some of which rise to 80 feet.

Returning to Stornoway.

After the Butt of Lewis, it was time to return to Stornoway. We did run into a little rain on the drive back. This is why you always take the time to learn where the switches are when you rent a car. Which we had. Whew!

Looking back at the map that I shared, you can see that the return trip did not make us come back exactly from whence we came. Taking A857 from near Barvas to head toward Stornoway cuts down the return time.

Camerons Chip Shop.

As I mentioned, we did not eat lunch during the day. I’m not sure what restaurants we may have passed because we only turned off the main roads occasionally and a lunch stop would have had to be pre-planned to know where we might go.

I knew that I wanted to get fish and chips at Camerons Chip Shop in Stornoway because they had excellent reviews on Tripadvisor.

Driving into Stornoway was a little terrifying due to my opposite side of the road mixed with traffic fears. We got parked, paid the meter, found the local public bathrooms and then made our way back over to Camerons. We thought that we’d eat there, but as we reassessed our time and the fact that we need to get gas on the return to the airport, we decided that we should get it to go. They gave us a sample taste of Irn-Bru “Scotland’s other national drink”, but given that I almost never drink soda, it was too sweet for me.

Back to the Airport.

We got gas, made it back to the airport and returned the car. We thought that we’d go through security and eat on the other side. Then it occurred to us that our drinks we over the size limit.  And could you take unsealed food through security? And what about my vinegar on the fish? Liquid? There wasn’t anyone to ask in security without actually being in line for security.

The airport at Stornoway is very small. I overheard a gentleman say to someone that he didn’t expect to smell fish at the airport. Well, the reality was that I didn’t either. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience to be starving, stuffing as much food in as you could before you had to rush to security, and not getting to enjoy this meal you’d purchased with the full intention of savoring the fact that you were eating fish in a town that is… on… the… Ocean.

Hello! Can we say fresh fish?!

Future Tips.

We definitely packed a lot into what was essentially 7-ish hours.

However, if I were to return, I’d want to spend more than one day. Accommodations have to be booked well in advance. I can’t recall if there were even rooms available when we were planning this trip.

Also, there is a difference between taking photographs while you travel and taking a photography trip. Lighting was not in my favor at many of stops. With more time, I could have aligned some photography with the golden and blue hours.

There were other places that I would have liked to have stopped. Other standing stones to have seen. Other beaches to have admired. I would have wanted to visit the Isle of Harris as well and to have been able to take my time strolling through each stop. To have meandered along some of the trails and smelled the ocean air.

All in all, it was an amazing day and one that I’ll not forget.

Be sure to check back for more posts from the day on the Isle of Lewis, but also from the rest my time in the UK.

She always had that about her, that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world. -Joanne Harris

Let your light shine!

Amy

What's Up Lately Episode 005

What’s Up Lately Episode 005

What’s Up Lately.

Episode 005.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I was here with my last update.

That update coincided with my husband’s birthday.

Smith Mountain Lake.

We decided to rent a boat and spend part of the day cruising around Smith Mountain Lake.

The lake is the largest man-made lake in the state of Virginia.

It has 500 miles of shoreline.

So while we did lots of exploring, we were only seeing a tiny portion of all there is to see.

We decided to anchor in a cove to see how cold the water was. If you know me, you know the cold and I do not get along AT ALL. Even the Atlantic down in Florida is often too cold for my liking. I jumped in once but quickly climbed back out. It wasn’t the cold, but the eerie feeling that some lake monster might be hiding in the depths ready to eat me.

The average depth of the lake is 55 ft with a maximum depth of 250 ft. I’m a Florida girl and lakes mean alligators.

My rational brain said it was much too cold for that, but the irrational part said there were still unknown large animals down there. I got in once more and swam out to my husband. The water was very cold, but I could have acclimated. The depth and unknown still freaked me out and so I climbed back aboard the boat and basked in the sunlight on the bow.

I think I could get used to the scary waters. It’ll just take some time.

Do you ever frequent lakes? What’s your take on them?

Soccer Tournament.

The following weekend, Miss Sunshine had a soccer tournament in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach is about a 5-hour drive from Roanoke. It’s the farthest that we typically travel for a tournament. However, we always stay oceanfront so it’s a fun time.

Miss Sunshine and her team won the championship. That was despite being down a few girls who couldn’t make it and then down a few more due to injuries sustained during the weekend.

Since it is such a long drive home and there was school the next day, the team didn’t stay for the medaling ceremony (that would have added many more hours to the day).

There were plans to get their medals at practice that Wednesday.

However, rain canceled practice.

Flash Floods.

On Thursday, Hurricane Michael made its way to Roanoke.

I’ve shown you all the dry creek in my yard before. Any time it rains heavily, the creek runs with the water draining down the mountain. If you look into the background of the photo, you will see the row of Evergreens that we planted a few years ago. There is a road behind them. That road is covered is flash flooding water. The road to my driveway was covered in flash flood water.

You may have seen photos on the news of Roanoke covered in flooded water.

This photo is early into the flooding. Shortly after this, I was pacing the floor. Mr. D has early release for Seniors. I didn’t know if his Mustang would make it on our street. At the time, I had no clue what the rest of the county looked like.

About 15 minutes after the early release Seniors left school, I received a call that they were immediately releasing the schools due to increased flooding.

Mr. D made it to our neighborhood entrance, but then could tell that he would not make it any farther. He turned around and called me to pick him up at a nearby office parking lot. I took out the Jeep. Leaving our neighborhood, rocks had been pushed across the road and a car had been pushed to the side as well. The jeep had no problem making it across the rocks.

I picked up Mr. D and then had to make my way to the high school to get Miss Sunshine and Mr. D’s girlfriend. Many of the roads that we would have normally taken were closed due to flooding. Even the one that Mr. D had made it through 20 minutes earlier had a car submerged to its headlights. We finally made it to the girls and slowly made our way back through traffic. What normally is 20ish minutes round trip was over an hour and a half.

When I left, I didn’t know if the flooding would continue to get worse. However, the rain slowed and had receded from many roads by the time we made it home.

It was a mentally taxing afternoon, to say the least.

GoFest.

The Roanoke Go Outside Festival was this weekend.

After all the craziness, I was ready to go walk around, listen to music and drink a few beers with my husband.

It was a good ending to the week.

How has your week been?

Part of her mystery is how she is calm in the storm and anxious in the quiet. -jmstorm quote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Tuesday Truth Quote of the Day

Tuesday Truth #3

Tuesday Truth Quote of the Day

Some of you may have already had an inkling that this would be today’s truth.

I found this quote in my archives (like way, way, back when I didn’t know many things archives) and planned to rework the photoquote.

Somehow it sent out an email of the old post (probably operator error…probably mine).

So if you received that email…here again, is food for thought.

If you didn’t receive it, here is food for thought this Tuesday.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

For past Tuesday Truths:

Tuesday Truth #1

Tuesday Truth #2

Friday Faves Edition 67

Friday Faves Edition 67

Friday Faves.

Say what?!

Here on a Friday…and with faves?

It can’t be!

Edition 67.

It’s true!

Recently, you’ve noticed that I’ve been doing more “what’s up lately” posts. That was because I didn’t necessarily have any faves to share, just some conversations that invited you to take a peek into my life.

While I don’t have tons of “faves” this week, I do have a few to share.

Eggplant Parmesan.

I hadn’t made any meals for a while that took effort required prep. This week I decided to make eggplant parmesan.

I had a recipe that my father-in-law gave me ages ago.

The recipe technically originated with my husband’s college roommate who was an Italian guy from New York.

I was extremely pleased with the tasty outcome.

Sadly, I woke up in the night in pain around the diaphragm region of my digestive system. It wasn’t the type of pain that any medicine I know can fix, so I just suffered through. Possible suspects are mozzarella cheese or eggplant (nightshade). I don’t think it was the parmesan cheese or the tomatoes because I eat those more often. Then again, maybe it wasn’t either because I ate some leftovers at lunch and think I was fine.

I will be making it again. However, if I have a repeat scenario, then I will truly need to determine if one of those foods need to be removed from my diet.

Do you eat eggplant? If so, what’s your favorite dish that includes it?

Mama’s Birthday.

If you missed it on Instagram, my mother’s birthday was Wednesday. Last year, I wrote about the genealogy portion of our first trip to Scotland . The year before that I wrote her a poem. This year I shared this photo of us at the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye in Scotland along with how much she teaches me about personal growth. It also reminded me that I still have so many photos and tales to share from our UK journey.

Photography.

I’ve been working a little more on editing my photos, but still haven’t fully settled back into my routines. I would like to make more forward progress on learning Lightroom and need to move it to “priority” status.

Grammarly.

I told you in my last “what’s up lately” post that I’d been working on Pinterest and old posts. Well, I finally decided to get Grammarly. I know some of you are thinking “hallelujah!” Actually, as I’m going through old posts (and I still have tons to go), there aren’t that many errors, but there are definitely some that slipped passed me.

It’s a massive pet peeve of mine when they slip past me too. I catch most errors in books that I read and wonder how a bestseller made it through the editor with an error. Now I know. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I publicly and sincerely apologize to all those editors I’ve judged in my mind.

Blog Traffic.

I’m also cleaning up some of the SEO because when I started this blog I had no knowledge about the inner working of the internet. I only knew how to spill my thoughts through my fingertips onto a keyboard. I’ve learned a lot since then, but I still don’t get that much traffic. Some days I’m okay with that. Other days I wonder if it’s me. Some days I think I don’t have a clue about marketing. Other days I think it’s because I don’t self-host.

Do you self-host? Do you have a way that you market your blog?

Reading Challenge.

While I was going through some old posts I came across the one about reading challenge that I did.

In it, I shared a 2018 reading challenge that I was going to participate in. To be honest, I kind of forgot about it. I have done lots of reading since then, it’s just that most didn’t qualify for the topics. I’ve decided to renew my efforts and finish it out before the end of the year.

In case you’ve forgotten about the challenge, here it is along with my reading so far.

The Details.

  • A classic you’ve been meaning to read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • A book recommended by someone with great taste The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood 
  • A book in translation –The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • A book nominated for an award in 2018 – The Power by Naomi Alderman (after The Alchemist)
  • A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection
  • A book you can read in a dayThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A book that’s more than 500 pages – Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés Ph.D.
  • A book by a favorite author
  • A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller
  • A banned bookThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • A memoir, biography, or work of creative nonfiction The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion other than your own.  – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (next up)

I’m currently finishing Women Who Run With the Wolves which was recommended to me. Have you read it?

The Alchemist has been on my list for quite some time. I stumbled across Paulo Coelho once while looking for quotes. I almost bought a book of his poetry while at Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

Have you read anything good lately?

Exercise.

As I mentioned before, I’m settling back into my Pilates classes. Somebody mentioned to me that they needed to take something like that to relax (or something similar with the implication of it being mellow). And it probably is compared to the workouts they do.

However, I don’t find anything mellow about the class.

It is not cardio and so perhaps that is what lends to the perceived “mellow”.

For me, Pilates has transformed my entire body. Am I where I want to be? No. But I’m a heck of a lot stronger than I’ve ever been. And when I’m doing arm work, with my little three pound weights focusing on form and quality of movement, in front of the mirror, I am in awe of the muscle definition that wasn’t there just two years ago.

And it feels nice to be in awe and admire something about my body because I constantly fight with my own body image issues.

I do need to add in more cardio. I stopped running when I got busy…and I don’t love running. Sorry to all you runners out there, but I just don’t. However, I do like hiking. The rain appears to be finally leaving (at least for now) so I’m hoping to get out and hike over the weekend. We have also discussed going kayaking on the lake. Or taking the paddleboard if the water isn’t too cold.

What is your favorite form of exercise?

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Husband’s Birthday.

No matter what we end up doing over the weekend, I’m sure it’ll be fun because I’ll be spending time with my husband.

September is a big month for birthdays in our family and today is his.

Last year I shared a post about Houseboats of Amsterdam  as his gift. He’s still trying to convince me to live on a boat at some point. Most recently it was a sailboat! We’ve owned a small sailboat before, but we didn’t go far offshore. I told him that we should probably take a sailing cruise first to make sure I don’t get seasick!

How about you? Do you like boating? Sailing? Cruises?

How do you plan to spend your weekend?

I hope it’s filled with lots of laughter and fresh air.

And even though I’ve shared this quote recently, in light of my upcoming reading of Coelho, I share it again.

Plus, I absolutely love its message.

Sometimes I get confused on this journey and try to be what I think everyone thinks I should be, but there is great freedom in becoming who you were always meant to be.

Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. -Paulo Coelho

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

What's Up Lately episode 004

What’s Up Lately Episode 004

What’s Up Lately.

Episode 004.

I can’t believe it’s already Monday morning!

I got out of bed at dark thirty (technically, dark fifteen). Miss Sunshine takes her math and engineering electives at a different school. They are on block scheduling, so every other day I must drive her to her high school where she catches a bus to other high school. That high school starts an hour earlier than the standard high schools.

Did I mention that I am not a morning person? So I’m definitely not an even earlier morning person.

Fall.

I have noticed that the sun is rising later each morning. Now on those days, we leave while it is still dark. Anyone else live where they are beginning to notice that happening?

Saturday was the first official day of fall.

Yay for crisper weather and lovely autumn colors.

Boo for shorter days.

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Rain.

Last time we talked about what’s up lately, I was expecting rain.

The rains came.

And came.

And came.

School was canceled last Monday due to possible flash flooding from Hurricane Florence. The hurricane shifted farther westward so we did not get as much rain as we originally anticipated.

It’s been a very wet season in Southwest Virginia. This summer has reminded me of living in Florida, without the perks of a beach.

Travel.

Big Mr. (my oldest) was planning a trip back to Virginia from Florida. He had to wait until the storm fully passed. He began his drive on Wednesday. The GPS routed him away from the roads that were closed, but he did say that you could see water covering and flowing across side roads.

It will be quite some time before the Carolinas fully recover.

Migraines.

If you happened to see my Instagram stories, then you already know that I spent Wednesday and Thursday dealing with migraines.

My migraines are the type that begins with an aura.

Or that is how its officially described.

To me, it’s like a kaleidoscope or that haze that gas fumes create swirling in my peripheral vision. Over the course of 20 minutes, it will make its way across more of my visual field. If possible, I prefer to sit with my eyes closed during the process because otherwise, my eyes will try really hard to focus and will lead to a leftover feeling of eye strain.

I’m lucky in that at the first hint of visual disturbance, I can take ibuprofen and stave off most of the pain that would occur afterward. While I do have a feeling of heaviness or brain fog afterward, I don’t have to go into a dark room and lay down. However, each of those days I had two instances of the visual disturbances, leading to a feeling of low-grade nausea.

I don’t know my triggers. I definitely think anxiety plays a part, but I don’t think it works alone. It’s quite possible that it is affected by something in the air. Yesterday, I felt some pain in my ear (usually a sign for me of allergy issues) and this morning can feel a sinus pressure.

Pinterest and Posts.

Between the migraines and a variety of mentally tasking other things happening in surrounding life, photo editing was not on the table for the week.

Instead, I worked on creating new boards on my Pinterest page. I was pinning travel to one board and it was becoming rather large. I’m slowly breaking it down into regions of the world. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll be able to find the itineraries and ideas that I’m looking for more readily.

I’m also looking through some of my older posts (mostly travel posts) to see if there are changes that I’d like to make to them that makes more reader-friendly. Part of the growth process in my writing is that I’ve developed an understanding of how I like a post flow as I read it and am trying to implement that into my own work.

Creating photoquotes is a process that I really enjoy. While I often include them at the end of my posts, you may have noticed that on Tuesday I shared one as a standalone post. I’m considering making this a regular thing since this creative endeavour brings me happiness.

Soccer.

Miss Sunshine is still busy with soccer.

She had a home game on Saturday morning.

Her team maintained its undefeated record.

More Rain.

Her away game on Sunday was canceled due to more rain across the region.

We were under flash flood warnings Saturday evening. The creek that runs across our property is dry unless it rains or as the snow melts in the winter.

It was rushing so heavily through that on this upper end, it was overflowing the banks a little.

Full Moon.

Have you seen the moon getting brighter and brighter in the night sky?

Given that today is a full moon, I thought I’d leave you with this quote for the day.

There’s just something about it that I love.

I hope you have a beautiful Monday. I’ll be heading to Pilates shortly.

Tell me what’s up lately in your life. Hopefully lots of amazing things!

 

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Let your light shine!

Amy