Travel Journal March 25, 1999
Lewis and Harris: Boat ride to another planet.

Port Rígh, Isle of Skye

One way or another, I was determined to get to Lewis and see the Callanrish stones - according to the "Let's Go" guide, they are "nearly as impressive as Stonehenge, and a thousand times less visited."

The days started interestingly enough. At the B&B, I was joined for breakfast by two lovely and intelligent young film students, and we had a delightful conversation. Since the ferry wasn't until 3:00 pm, I decided to kill some time by going to the Aros center again, where I met my breakfast companions who then proceeded to invite me to have tea with them, whereupon we had another interesting conversation, during which a peculiar phenomena was observed: Outside one window of the centre it was raining, while outside the opposite window it was dry!

After that, I decided to drive to Uig, where the ferry terminal is, a journey of about 10 miles or so.

Uig, Isle of Skye

Here's a little more of the Skye landscape, shot while dawdling about waiting for the ferry.

I had been trying to take some pictures of sheep for a while ("Scotland has a LOT of sheep!" observed Allison Hershey, and she's right), but the opportunity never quite came until now. Here was one curious bunch.

I bought a ferry ticket to Lewis. Unfortunately, the only ferry coming back would depart at 7:00 the next morning, and that would be the last ferry to run for several days! (The Lewis ferries don't run on the weekend, apparently). This meant that unless I wanted to be stranded on the Isle of Lewis for several days, I would have at most two or three hours of daylight in which to sightsee. I was determined to make the most of it. The ferry was also expensive, costing on the order of fifty pounds for a return ticket for me and the rental car.

The vehicle bay.

The green car exactly in the center of the frame is the one I'm driving.

Here's some shots of Skye, taken from the ferry.


And here are some shots of Harris (which is connected to Lewis). I was experimenting with the "panorama mode" of the camera, which doesn't really make the view wider, it just cuts out useless sky and ground pixels from the top and bottom. Unfortunately, you can't activate this mode unless you have the power-hungry LCD viewfinder turned on.


Tairbert, Isle of Harris

I simply cannot believe this landscape. It looks like Mars with moss on it. I have never seen landscape less suitable for farming. It's like someone took sandpaper and magnified it. It's really hard to get the sense of the land from a few photos, but the overall impression is stunning, and well worth the trip by itself.



Most of the roads are single-lane, and quite bumpy. Lewis is much less dramatic, not quite so rocky as Harris, almost like Skye but not quite.

Callanish, Isle of Lewis

By driving like a madman, I was able to get to the stones before it got too dark. As with Long Meg, I was the only one there. The visitor center was closed, which was fine as far as I was concerned.


These stones are truly awe-inspiring. I'm really glad I came to see them.



Later that night I went looking for the fabled B&B mentioned by Richard. I managed to get my car stuck in a drainage ditch (one rear wheel was actually hanging in mid-air) because of a misjudged turn while backing up, but with a little bit of thought I was able to plot a sequence of maneuvers which freed the car with little apparent damage and much mud-spattering of every outer surface of the car.

I did eventually find Baille-na-cille, which was of course (here it comes!) closed for the winter.

I finally made it back to the ferry port with little more than a thimbleful of petrol in the tank, or so it seemed (not many filling stations on Lewis, you see.)