We spent a night on Lewis, for a spot of stone circle spotting at Callanais and taking in the sights. We took the car over on another ferry from the top of the island at Uig to Tarbert.
I had thought Skye was rugged and dramatic, but nothing prepared us for Harris. I had heard it described as lunar, which did the moon a bit of a disservice. The only things which seemed to grow were rocks and electricity poles on the mountains. Lewis on the other hand, was less mountainous but still little in the way of vegetation. Much of the soil was peat and you could see where it had been dug from the ground.
Another thing we noticed, was that the further west we travelled in Scotland, the signs were increasingly in Gaelic. The English was in somewhat smaller text, almost as an afterthought. In some cases, the igns were completely in Gaelic. A lot of new buildings in tiny villages were Sgeoils or schools, where there appeared to be a concerted effort being made to keep Gaelic alive as a language. Mr BG also noted Gaelic spoken in cafes and in the local library in Stornaway, the main town (I always seemed to be in the loo at the time).
The standing stones at Callanais were breathtaking, so beautiful we visited them twice! The second time we were there, we noticed someone had left an offering. A couple were there with their daughter and a couple of friends- they were getting married at the stones.
Callanais is a complex of approximately 10 circles and configurations, of which we visited 4. The last couple involved tramping across cowpat-ridden fields, which did bring to mind my last tramp to find ancient monuments in Orkney. That time in 2001, it was raining, my feet were wet and shoes covered in shit and I truly hated the man who led me here, my fiance and the future Mr BG. At least this time, the sun was shining, and had reached the balmy temperature of 16 degrees. With the sun and no wind, it felt warm- I must be becoming acclimatised to the Scottish summers!
With a few hours to fill in before our ferry trip back on p the second day not only did we visit Callainais again but a broch which the kids climbed all over. We also tracked down a 6 metre singular standing stone and bumped into an older couple who commiserated with us on the paucity of signs to the monument and how the wife was accompanying them purely to take a photo of the husband beside the stone. Mr BG joked this would be us in 20 years’ time. Sadly I think this will be the case!
We stayed at an inn at Loch Erisport, run by a former Rugby League player who use to play for Huddersfield down south in England. Many of of the other guests were on driving holidays, with a couple of cyclists as well. Cyclists were quite numerous on the roads, which were relatively free of traffic, not to mention more interesting to ride with bends and steep hills. It was so comfortable that Master BG’s toy dog Woof Woof decided to stay on in his bed. We realised he had stayed behind as we were getting ready for bed back on Skye that night. Woof woof will be flying back to London courtesy of Royal Mail to my brother Andrew.