Day 11 |
Aug 29, 2012

Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: N 58º12'24", W 006º23'07"
Weather: Overcast and rainy
Air Temperature: 10ºC
Pressure: 991 hPa
Wind: 25 knots

After a rather bumpy night, the Silver Explorer came alongside this morning in Stornoway, the capital of the Isle of Lewis. It was raining at the time, and it rained on all day.

Despite the wet conditions, many of our guests went out on the “Isle of Lewis - The Life and Times” tour. Aboard three coaches they left the city and drove across the island to the beautiful west coast and to Callanish.

Described as Scotland’s Stonehenge, the Callanish Standing Stones date from around 3000BC. There are a total of 32 stones in a circular and avenue design, cruciform to be more precise. It is thought that the site, one of several in the area was constructed for astronomical observations.

The stones stand like a petrified forest on the flat top of a peninsula which reaches out into East Loch Roag. Our guests had a chance to visit the excellent visitor centre to learn more about the site and venture out amongst the stones themselves to experience their mysterious atmosphere. Our archaeologist Colleen Batey was on hand to provide interpretation, making the site come to life.

They then left the site and continued around the west coast to the site of Dun Carloway Broch. Probably built some time in the last century BC, it would have served as an occasional defensible residence for an extended family complete with accommodation for animals at ground floor level. It would also have served as a visible statement of power and status in the local area.

After having seen this interesting archaeological site, the coaches drove north to the Black House of Arnol - a fully furnished island croft (small farm) complete with attached byre and stockyard. The house has very thick walls and a thatched roof, and a peat fire burns in the grate - crofting life as it was until only 50 years ago.

In fascinating contrast, the site is also home to a White House, furnished as it was in the 1920s and representing the world into which the Black House residents moved. The conditions at this stage had deteriorated even more and it was pouring down, pretty heavy rain and wind even for Scottish standards. Once we left the Black House of Arnol the coaches completed the circular drive as they headed back across moorland to Stornoway.

Once back on board our guests had lunch and an afternoon at leisure. Many went out to explore the town and some decided to take it easy and have a lazy afternoon and evening in the company of a good book and the warm onboard services and amenities of the Silver Explorer.