Hebridean Heaven

I often recommend the islands of Lewis & Harris (they are connected) to guests, as a mini-break while staying here, and having just returned from a second visit, I am reminded why...

Flybe has direct flights from Edinburgh to Stornoway – and it only takes 65 minutes before you are descending over a white beach into island heaven. TripAdvisor has included the isles in the ‘Top 5 islands in the World’.

Perhaps you will already know of some of the ‘attractions’ – the Callanish Standing Stones, the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, The Arnol Blackhouse, The Carloway Broch… but what you can but only imagine before visiting is the sheer beauty of the ‘Butt of Lewis’ – up in the north of the island, including the port of Ness, the turquoises and jades of the crystal-clear seas – and the jaw-dropping beauty of the beaches at Luskentyre and Sacrista, Bosta beach in Lewis on the east coast at Bernera. Other delights include the ‘machair’ (moors) covered in wild flowers in May and August, the magnificent white sands along the west coast of Harris, and at Uig (where the Uig chessmen were discovered in a sand dune), the ancient churches, eg St Clements Church at Rodel in Harris, the wildlife… ah, the list is endless. Boat trips can take you to St Kilda – the last inhabitants left in the 1930s, and on tailored trips to see puffins, sea eagles and in and around the bays of the islands on wildlife tours. This visit, Philip and I attended Uig Gala Day, where we watched sheep shearing, dived into the home-baking, and were talked into taking the adrenalin-fuelled rib boat around the bays - Seatrek | Let The Adventure Begin!

You can visit the wonderful Harris Gin Distillery at Tarbert, Harris  (as Philip savoured the gin, I hopped across the parking bay to the temptations of the Harris Tweed shop), or if whisky is your thing, the island has its own distillery in Uig. Studios and artists’ galleries are dotted throughout the islands – do travel down some of the little ‘side roads’ when you see a sign – there is usually something lovely along the way as well as at the end!

Philip and I decided to stay in the newly opened Lews Castle – yes, you can have an apartment in the recently restored and magnificent castle itself, overlooking Stornoway and the sea beyond – it was incredible: Lews Castle Wedding Venue & Accommodation in Lewis | Natural Retreats – it also is home to the Museum nan Eilean, where you can immerse yourself in the culture, crofting heritage, music and traditions of the isles.

If music is your thing - head for the HebCelt, held every July - check our the website  for 2018! Live music is always guaranteed in Lewis' bars, or at the local theatre An Lanntair.

Alternatively, see the file I give you on booking – it has a long list of wonderful places to stay – from an original stone blackhouse, to the joys of 5-star gold B&B, as well as many other bits of info and recommendations for places to dine, shop, enjoy!

Happy July!