Finally, a chance to return to the Outer Hebrides this summer. Specifically the Isle of Lewis, westside, Barvas. We stayed in the fabulous Moorpark Cottages, where we looked out onto a tiny woodland where heron’s flew in and nested at night. A corncrake sang all day long in the long grass outside…but was never seen. Our view to the west, out over flat croftland meant we had big skies, a constantly changing horizon as weather fronts blew in and out again. While the mainland UK enjoyed the heatwave (or perhaps suffered) we were in a cool, drizzle – but were lucky enough to have some moments of beautiful sunshine too.
A rainy day was the perfect excuse to visit Stornoway, Lewis’s biggest town, and revisit the Bethesda Charity shop – a huge space full of everything and quite literally, anything! Then onto a new discovery Lewis Revival, which describes itself brilliantly as Vintage Prairie and Croft Decor . . . I loved it and spent a fortune 🙂
Most days were spent visiting favourite beaches, walking, beachcombing, painting, boogie boarding. So many beautiful beaches. Barvas is the most perfect place to stay to discover Lewis. With Eoropie to the North, Dalmore and Dalbeg just to the South and Bosta and Valtos a little further. The Callanish Stones and Garenin Blackhouse village always fill me with wonder, and new this year was a summer sheiling house reconstructed at Arnol and a new museum/cafe at old Cros school – Ness Historical Society. And of course, I can’t do a post without mentioning my Roobedo Peg Top Denims and Cowl tank in organic cotton jersey being the perfect combo, for a Hebridean holiday – super comfy layered with hat and scarf for chilly moments, boots or barefoot – rolled up to paddle 🙂
I was taken by the weaving sheds scattered along the roadside, and took to photographing and sketching in the evenings. Are they still used? Still standing proud, perhaps coming to life in the winter months to fill the dark hours with weaving – the Harris tweed Authority currently works with over 140 self employed weavers dotted throughout the island.
We booked a tour ‘The Story of Harris Tweed’, available every Wednesday and Friday morning in the Harris Tweed Authority offices in the Town Hall, Stornoway. Here you can try a loom – which uses leg power…no electricity allowed. My love of Harris tweed stems from childhood visits to the islands with my parents – this is the reason I use it today, and will always have a place for it in my heart.
Driving home on the last day, after a final beach trip, the island gave us the most beautiful send off. Blue skies, fluffy clouds, just a light breeze (enough to blow away any midges) and SUN!!! Incidentally, people often ask me how bad are the midges? Honestly, as long as there’s a breeze, you are not going to be bothered – and there’s usually a fine wee breeze!
Our journey home was the smoothest sail I’ve every experienced in my life with a whole 2.5 hours sitting up on deck, sailing all the way over to Ullapool, no wind and getting warmer and warmer as we sailed into the heatwave engulfing the Scottish mainland. I’ll never forget it.