Tuesday 19 June 2018 Isle of Lewis

After a very windy night with rain at times we headed to Carloway Bay to the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village situated on the Atlantic coast of the Isle of Lewis (the Isle of Harris and Lewis is one island broken into Harris in the south and Lewis in the north).  It is a unique group of restored thatched cottages which portray the way of life in a typical crofting township of the last century. The cottages in this era were very basic with stone floors, no electricity or any other modern amenities. As a result of the Second World War things changed and traditional crofting declined. Weaving of Harris Tweed became important and more and more land was given over to grazing. Unfortunately, the village had not be able to retain enough of its young people and the blackhouses were occupied by ageing residents who were unable to carry out the maintenance required. The abandoned blackhouses began to deteriorate but the formation of a trust in 1989 restored and revived this now existing village. We watched an interesting video about harvesting of peat as a fuel; it is very labour-intensive exercise even today and this was followed on by a very informative video about the making of Harris Tweed which is a skill in itself. After walking through the village, we saw a live demonstration of spinning tweed. A fantastic restored piece of history.

Further along the road we stopped to visit the Norse Mill and Kiln. After walking about a kilometre on a stone track we reached a renovated pair of thatched buildings used in past times to process barley and grain into meal. The mill was powered by water from the stream from the nearby Loch Roinavat. The buildings give a glimpse into the Scandinavian past of Lewis and the surrounding area is very beautiful.

The next stop was Arnol Blackhouse which is a traditional Lewis thatched house fully furnished, complete with an attached barn, byre and stackyard. It was built in around 1880, No.42 Arnol gives a special insight into island life. This blackhouse was once the residence of a Hebridean crafting family and their animals, who moved out in 1966, and today it is preserved almost as the family left it. A furnished 1920s crofthouse is also open to view.

Next, we visited the Port of Ness a picturesque fishing village at the northern end of the Isle of Lewis. We then returned to the small village of Borve to a laundrette to do our washing and refill our water at the local store.

Last stop of the day was the ferry terminal at Stornoway for our trip on the first sailing in the morning to Ullapool.  We parked the car at the terminal and went for a walk around the town before going to bed.



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