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

Thoughts on turning the page...to 41.

Thoughts on turning the page…To 41

 

Birthday.

That’s right!

It’s my birthday!

I’m singin’ and dancin’ that out ya’ll!

Thoughts on being 40.

I had an amazing year of being 40.

I grew by leaps and bounds.

Pressing comfort zones both physically and mentally.

It really felt like a coming into my own.

Background.

If you are new to my journey. I’m the mother of an 18-year-old, a 17-year-old, and a soon to be 15-year-old. When I chose to become a stay-at-home mom at the birth of my oldest, I gave myself fully to that role. That is not to say I didn’t feel like a failure a million times along the way or that I didn’t make a million mistakes along the way.

Cause Lord knows that I sure did.

It just means that I didn’t take the time to discover who I was outside of that role. I guess some people might say that I lost myself. I don’t really see it that way. I made choices. And my choices were of fully immersed service to others (I am heavily Virgo, so no real surprise there. If you are interested in astrology, I can tell you that I’m also strongly Leo and Libra…so again, no surprise to my personality traits).

However, I saw the horizon looming where my teenagers would spread their wings and journey away from that daily need of me being involved in their lives. It began to be time to think about the next phase of my journey. What would that look like? What were my interests?

…and so I started this blog.

As a way to discover my interests. As a way to journal the journey. All the while trying to remember to also enjoy the now. To find that beauty that resides amongst the chaos.

Discovery.

I found photography. I found travel. I found yoga…and pilates. I found concern for the environment.

I found beauty in my strength.

But I also found beauty in my weakness.

I am a human. Just one among multiple billions. I am the same. And yet I am unique.

On Turning 41.

I chose the photo of me taken during my yoga challenge on day 18.

It represents so much of who I became over the course of turning 40.

Travel.

I am on the rooftop of Princes Street Suites (remember the views that I shared from there in this post?) in Edinburgh Scotland. This was my second visit to Scotland and only 13 months after my very first overseas trip (to Amsterdam and Paris).

Yoga and Pilates.

Boat pose, or navasana, requires core strength. It is also executed in my Pilates class when coming out of the rollover. Finding a fitness regime that I enjoy has been amazing for my health. Now I feel stronger than I have ever felt in the past.

Self Confidence.

Originally, I didn’t want to take this photo. Usually, the rooftop is rather quiet. However, this night there was a large group. “Creating a scene” makes me feel uncomfortable. But, my mother, ever the extrovert that she is, convinced me to get up there and “strike my pose” anyways. There was a time in my life when no matter how much my soul cried to just go ahead and do it, I would have still declined. So while it did take a little prodding, I was also listening to my instincts which really wanted this sunset as the backdrop for one of my favorite poses.

Here’s to 41.

While some people will say that it’s all downhill after 40 (and yes, I have heard this), I say it’s only just begun.

So here’s to 41…

Let’s see what the future holds!

IMG_9613.PNG

 

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

Lately

What’s Up Lately

 

What's Up Lately

What’s Up Lately?

Life.

It’s taken all the little snippets of time that I could steal away from daily life just to pop in here and share a photo for the past few weeks. I figured it was time to fill you in with “what’s up lately.”

Missed those? You can find a Naples, Florida sunset here, Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland in this post, and a Stuart, Florida sunset in this one.

While life isn’t necessarily settling down any during the present time, I wanted to catch up a little.  The last time I sat down for a chat was at the end of July in this post.

Change.

I talked about how life had brought about some changes and that I was heading down to Florida for a week.

Currently I'm only accepting good vibes and money graffiti.

Good Vibes.

For a while I let the chaos of change get to my emotional state. My personality prefers control and order and life was just not handing me that.

However, during my time down in Florida, I began to again refocus on the good vibes. Usually, if you look for them, some can be found in every situation.

My commentary may make it sound as if I thought the changes were a bad thing. I did and do not. It just required the reworking of plans and creating of solutions. Things that I’m good at, but that are also mentally (and sometimes physically) intensive.

View this post on Instagram

I moved to Virginia 5 years ago. Before that, I spent 3 years living in this town, after a lifetime (from birth) in a city on the other coast of Florida. Naples, to be precise. All three of my children were born in Naples and yet this is the town they consider home. So much so that the oldest is moving back. It’s moments like this that I can see why. 🏠🌴🌊☀️ • • • •#sheisnotlost #beautyinthechaos #stayandwander #dreamchaser #sunset #sunsetchaser #discovermartin #itsamazingoutthere #neverstopexploring #tlpicks #natgeotravel #theskyisonfire #beautifuldestinations #roamtheplanet #darlingescapes #travelstoke #traveldiaries #doyoutravel #optoutside #wearetravelgirls #wanderfolk #thehappynow #fromwhereistand #saltlife #naturehippys #visitflorida

A post shared by Amy Lyon Smith (@amy.lyon.smith) on

Moving Time.

If you caught this post on Instagram, you may have already guessed one of the changes in my life.

Big Mr. is moving to Florida.

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you might be like “wait…what”.

Yes, my oldest child is moving back to Florida.

Dock in Downtown Stuart, Florida

Sometimes I’m asked how I feel about that.

It may be something I address in more detail in the future, but at the same time this is also one of those stories where you can read various chapters, but the story is not mine.

As for how I feel…

I will miss my son. 800 miles is a long way away.

I’m excited for him to begin this adventure into adulthood.

I’m jealous that he gets to live by the beach.

I’m proud of the fact that he found the courage to get off of the “supposed” to train and then climbed aboard the “want” to train.

(p.s.- I love this picture of him with his best friend down at the Stuart docks because that cloud looks like a Stallion rising…ready for the wild unknown).

He’s been home for a week and I have him for one more week before he moves.

First Day of School

Back to School.

I had to beeline it back home after a week down in Florida (that’s 12 hours just in drive time y’all…and I did it in one day).

Big Mr. stayed another week, but I wanted to make it home to see the other two teens off on their first day of school.

Mr. D is now a Senior in high school and Miss Sunshine started her Freshman year.

Eeek! Where does the time go?

Beginning of the bathroom remodel

Bathroom Remodel.

The upstairs bathroom remodel is ongoing.

This is a sneak peek of it in process. It’s a little further along now.

I design. The hubby executes my vision.

This means that projects take longer to get done because…ya know….he has a full-time job as well.

I’ll do an update when it’s complete.

Mr. D age 5

Birthdays.

Last Friday, Mr. D turned 17.

I still cannot believe it.

I was reminiscing over his old photos since recent ones are rare. This is from around the time when he was in Kindergarten.

And yet, I’ve just had his Senior photos taken!

The time truly does pass in an instant (even though it doesn’t feel like it when you are going through it).

Soccer day

Soccer.

Soccer mom in full effect.

Miss Sunshine started back to practice with her U16 travel team.

Last weekend they had a season opener tournament and played four games, each ending in a shutout.

Thus, they were the U16 Champions!

My weekends (and some weekdays) will be filled with soccer all the way until Thanksgiving.

Snapchat selfie

Selfie.

And in case you’ve forgotten what I look like since I’ve been in hiding (just kidding…sort of), here’s a silly selfie from my time in Florida.

I hope that you all have an amazing weekend and that brightness shines into your soul during the coming week.

Let me know what you have been up to lately.

It's okay to get lost every one in a while. Sometimes getting lost is how we find ourselves. -Robert Tew

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