One of the joys (and I mean that with all sincerity) of Scotland is that there's no getting to any place in a hurry. Travelers are at the mercy of bus, train, and ferry schedules, and all travel requires a carefully planned-out route, best achieved by working backwards from your destination. Glasgow to Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides (Western Isles), was no exception, requiring a bus to Ullapool, then a ferry passage across to Stornoway. While we waited for the ferry in Ullapool, we ate fish and chips at the waters' edge, and fed the last of our chips to the noisy begging seagulls. They reminded me of my dogs...
We stayed 4 nights at the Heb Hostel, an independent hostel in a 180 year old house.
While there, we attended the HebCeltFest, a 15 yr old music festival held on the castle grounds, celebrating traditional and contemporary music with Celtic roots. The highlight of the festival was, without a doubt, the amazing and talented (and drop-dead fucking GORGEOUS) Imelda May. I'm still flushed...
We also visited the Callenish standing stones, erected between 2900 - 2600 BC, and the Arnol Blackhouse Museum, a restored traditional stone cottage from around 1875, on a settlement site that's at least 2000 yrs old.
|The road to Callenish|
|warm, fragrant peat fire, inside the blackhouse|
|"Dresser" of family dishes; the haze is from the ever-present peat smoke|
The blackhouse was occupied until 1966; all furnishings and personal effects are original.
Across the road is a "white house," built in the 1920s, also filled with original furnishings. The owner, a single granny, lived there until she was no longer able. Granny apparently liked her pipe, although she didn't care much for the "new" house, which she found cold and damp.
|same window, looking out|
Next up: Berneray!
From www.historic-scotland.gov.uk: Number 42 was the residence of a Hebridean crofting family and their animals, preserved almost as the family left it when they moved out in 1966. For hundreds of years it was the custom in Lewis for man and beast to be housed under the same roof. In 1966 there was a good number of Hebridean blackhouses still in use as homes; today none are left. This is why no. 42 Arnol is unique and precious. It is much more than just a thatched house – it remains the sole representative of a way of life once so common but now altogether gone.