Lewis and Harris Although one island, Lewis and Harris, are part of the 130 mile chain of islands the Outer Hebrides. Buffeted by the Atlantic waves, treeless and windswept, their isolation has in fact preserved their cultural identity. The Island offers an extensive choice of accommodation for the visitors to the area to enjoy a relaxing retreat for a wonderful holiday destination with great hospitality selections.
Gaelic is widely spoken and many are bilingual. The Free Church is the island's main denomination and they hold by a strict observance of the sabbath. One of the surprising features of the island is to see two fairly sizeable churches standing side by side. Landscapes. - Moorlands, glistening lochans, superb sandy beaches and crystal clear water are common features of the island's landscapes. Although joined Lewis and Harris are physically very different, The landscapes of Lewis are essentially rolling moorlands scattered with lochans. Harris is altogether more rugged and mountainous.
- Lewis and Harris Latitude 58.2° N Longitude -6.6° E
- Lewis Postcode HS2
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Peat working. - A common feature is the many peat workings lining the moorland roadsides. The blanket peat cover averaging a depth of 5ft is the universal soil. It is readily exploited as a domestic fuel. In March the peats are cut, thrown up then stacked in fours and left to dry. In summer they are bagged for collection and driven home. Nearly every house has the inevitable peat stack. Harris Tweed. - The orb trademark guarantees that this fine quality cloth is handwoven by the islanders in their homes. Weaving tweed originated in Harris but it was later commercialized in Lewis where today all processes after weaving are done in the mills of Stornoway and Shawbost. It is still common to see bundles of tweed awaiting collection at road ends. Midges, The uncommonly present midge has no common antidote.
Amol Black House - Signposted off the main A 858 is a straw thatched house shelters under one roof the sleeping area with box beds, the living area, byre and stable come barn. This type of dwelling known as the Black House, due to its open hearth, was common up until 40 to 60 years ago. Housing grants have been responsible for the conversion of many.
Callanish Standing Stones - Well signposted off the A 858 are a group of stones forms a circle with alignments radiating outwards at the compass points. The site is in fact one of a series in the vicinity and it is generally assumed they were used for astronomical observations. The site dates from the late Stone Age and early Bronze Age (3000·1500BC), making it over 4000 years old and roughly contemporary with Stonehenge. The stones were once partially buried under peat. The central cairn or burial chamber was a later addition by the Neolithic people (2500·2000BC).
Cartoway Broch - Signposted off the A 858. Although not a complete example of a broch enough remains of this structure to intrigue. Admire the skill of the stonemason as the sides swell out at the bottom. The galleried walls and entrance guard chamber are still visible.
Eye Peninsula - To the northeast of Stornoway the peninsula has some fine sandy beaches.
Leverburgh - The township of Obboe was renamed by the English soap magnate, lord leverhulme in 1923. He had acquired Harris in 1919 and Lewis later the same year and dreamed of developing the islands. None of the schemes flourished including the project to make Leverburgh an important fishing port. All was abandoned when Lord Leverhulme died in 1925.
St Clement's Church - In the township of Rodel near the southern tip of Harris is a church with, the outstanding tomb of the 16C builder, Alexander MacLeod (d 1546). Carvings decorate the arch and back of the recess above the effigy of the 8th Chief of Macleod. The Twelve Apostles are portrayed on the arch. The other carvings include the Virgin and Child, flanked by two bishops, a hunting scene, a castle and the galley emblem of the Lords of the Isles.
Shawbost Museum - This folk museum gives an insight into the life and customs of the past, many of the explanatory notices are in Gaelic.
Stornoway is the capital and only town of any size lies on a narrow neck of the Eye Peninsula the main shopping area fronts the landlocked harbour which is also overlooked by the 19C castle (now a technical college) and its wooded grounds. A good view of the town can be had from the foot of the War Memorial on the hill behind the hospital.
Stornoway makes a good excursion centre for visiting Lewis and Harris. As hotels and petrol pumps are scarce on the Islands, take a picnic lunch and keep your petrol tank filled up.