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

The Cosmic Call. A sunset photo.

The Cosmic Call

The Comic Call. A sunset photo

The Cosmic Call.

Sunset. Gulf of Mexico. Naples, Florida.

Sunset at the pier along the Gulf of Mexico in Naples, Florida

Sunset is a cosmic call to us all to give a break to the rush of life so as to realise the gorgeousness of the existence!
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

If you love sunsets be sure to check out these other posts:

Sunset over the St. Lucie River

Aruba Sunset

Series of the Sunset

Peaceful Horizon

 

Doors of London II

Doors of London II

London.

I know.

I know.

It’s been a while since I’ve been back to share some scenery from my time in London.

If you’re a regular to my blog, then you know that shortly after I returned from the United Kingdom, my oldest teen graduated from high school.  Then the youngest and I traveled to Florida for three weeks. Of course, upon return, much mothering and household responsibilities consumed (and are still consuming) my time.

Here and there I’ve had a chance to catch up on a few blogs. So when I saw that Norm will be taking a two-week break from hosting Thursday Doors, I quickly rounded up one of my sets of doors from London to share.

Doors of London II.

My first set of doors was from Belgravia.

If you missed that series, you can find those here.

After grabbing a bite to eat at the Duke of York Square Food Market in Chelsea (no, I haven’t forgotten that I have a funny story to share from there), we got on the Underground at the Sloane Square station.

Notting Hill.

One of my goals during my brief time in London was to see color.

Colored buildings….colored doors.

Color, color, color!

And I had read that Notting Hill was the place to find it.

Directions.

We took the Underground to Notting Hill Gate station.

Google maps was one of my best friends while touring London. Or touring the U.K. for that matter. I put Portobello Road Market in as our ultimate destination. There are also signs around that say “you are here” and the way to Portobello Road Market, but I still like the comfort of having it on my phone.

It started lightly raining while we were still in Chelsea. We had rain coats but didn’t want to go all the back to the hotel for umbrellas. As such, I didn’t pull out the camera as often as I would have liked. Trust me when I say that Portobello Road has some amazing finds. So many, that even the few that I managed to capture can’t be shared in one post.

Where to begin?

Well, I suppose at the beginning.

 

Portobello Road.

It was a Saturday, so we knew that we wanted to check out the famous Portobello Road Market.

But first, I had to stop and admire some of the doors along the way.

 

#12 Portobello Road.

As we rounded the first corner of Portobello Road, the doors and entries were quite fabulous.

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#14 Portobello Road.

Located beside #12, #14 was quite fabulous as well.

So many people were stopping to snap a photo of #14 that I thought perhaps somebody famous lived here or that it was showcased in a movie. I didn’t find anything of the sort when I tried to search. While it is quite spectacular and I love the addition of the topiaries, of the two, I was partial to #12.

Which of these two doors do you prefer?

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#24 Portobello Road.

Moving along, we come to #24 in its vibrant shade of pink.

I tried to look up shades of pink to be able to offer a name to the color.

Fuchsia? Magenta?

What would YOU call this color?

 

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#28 Portobello Road.

To me, #28 is an interesting combination of color.

I’m partial to the building color. I love a pastel pink. It reminds me of the color that I painted Miss Sunshine’s room when I found out that I was going to have a girl. And would you believe that she has never cared for pink! As a toddler, her favorite color was red. It quickly evolved and has remained in the blue family, in shades of aqua and teal.

What do you think of the blue/pink combo of #28?

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#44 Portobello Road.

#44 is a pop of bold!

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#46 Portobello Road.

Compared to its neighbor, #46 looks almost demure. However, while the door chooses to be understated, you can see that building color does all the speaking.

 

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#58 Portobello Road.

We close out this segment of the Portobello Road series with #58.

I didn’t take the shot of door from directly in front because I wanted to be able to share the plethora of greenery found surrounding it.

Since my maiden name is Lyon, I am also drawn to the door knocker and statue.

#58 opted to have the door in the same shade of eggplant as the building and tone down the darkness by having a cream-colored trim. I think it works nicely.

What do you think?

To be continued.

I do have more photos as we near Portobello Road Market that I’ll share in the future.

Which door was your favorite in this series?

So much of who we are is where we have been. -William Langewiesche

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Seaside Chat

Seaside Chat

Friday.

It’s technically Friday, although I struggle to keep track of the days.

I suppose this is sort of like a Friday Faves, but as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, it’s more like a seaside chat.

Seaside Chat.

Miss Sunshine and I moved into our little cottage last Friday. We are some blocks from the beach, but I’ve timed it and it’s about a 7 minute walk.

Sunset.

I’ve been able to get down there most nights for sunset. The two that I’ve missed were due to rain, not laziness on my part.

The colors in the sky are always spectacular, even on the less than stellar sunset nights.

Dinner and Dancing.

My aunt that traveled to Scotland with us last year has joined some social groups and on Wednesday they go to a restaurant that has a live DJ/singer and dancing. She invited Miss Sunshine and I and my mother to join her. The singer was crazy good. I had to do a double take to make sure that he wasn’t just playing music.

Miss Sunshine declined to join us in dancing, but the three of us got out there and “shook our groove thang”.

You might be wondering about that spectacular bruise on my arm. If not, I’m gonna tell you about it anyway. While traveling down, Miss Sunshine and I stopped for gas and a bathroom break. The door to the stall was somewhat unwieldy and as I turned to close it, the purse hook scraped my arm.

It was enough that I thought I’d bruise since I bruise so easily. However, the scrape covered less than a dime sized spot. I did not expect a bruise so large. It’s so glaring that every single family member has asked what happened AND I’ve gotten to sport that monstrosity at the beach for a week. It’s fading, but it’ll still be a while.

Biking.

The cottage has two bikes so Miss Sunshine and I have done some exploring on them.

Paddleboard.

We brought our paddleboard down with us. The Gulf is pretty calm at this time of year so it’s been fun to take that out.

When we were down on Wednesday, a manatee came swimming along the coastline and later we could see a dolphin out frolicking and heading toward the pier to catch the fish that congregate there.

Shopping.

Yesterday, Miss Sunshine and I did a little shopping for her school clothes. Then we met my mom and sister-in-law for lunch. Later, we went to both of my aunt’s house to visit. Today, we will go visit my grandfather and tonight will be meeting one of my aunt’s at the beach to watch the sunset.

It sounds like go,go,go…and sort of is, but there are moments of relaxation as well. I’m still finishing up my month of writing and just realized July is almost upon me.

Time to figure out my challenge for that month. Any suggestions?

Upcoming.

Along with more family visiting, we have some upcoming fun times in the works. We are supposed to go to an Escape Room. We have a family dinner out planned with my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two nephews. We’ll be celebrating the 4th of July. How and where is still in determination mode. We are also taking a day trip to Busch Gardens to seek out some thrilling roller coasters. I’m sure I’m leaving things out, but we will also stop once again in Gainesville on the return home and I will see my grandparents and my cousin that I couldn’t catch on the way down.

I’ll also be making sure that I try to catch as many sunsets at the beach as I possibly can!

As I mentioned before I began this trip and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am slow on my replies and making it by to read what many of you have been up to. Most of my evening downtime is spent chatting or playing board games with Miss Sunshine. I will get through my emails and comments, just bear with me in the process.

I hope that you all are having a beautiful Friday!

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Let your light shine!

Amy