I had intended to push on with the events of Sunday afternoon and then continue on to our second day on Lewis, but reckoned it would end up too long a post. In the interests of brevity and shortening attention spans I’ve opted to use Part 5 to wind up the events of Sunday…our first day on Lewis. My apologies to those who were drooling over the teaser at the end of the last post. Have no fear, your time will come.
So what did we do next?
Well, here we are on Part 5 of our “Tail”…and it’s still Day 1 on Lewis! We’re busy little things when touring. As I recall Part 4 concluded with lunch at Port Nis overlooking the harbour and my reservations on the subject of guga hunting.
Fortunately the north-west coast of Lewis is a tourist paradise when it comes to places to visit, especially if you enjoy wandering around ancient remains. We’d done the “walking bit” for today with our amble around the headland, so now it was time for a bit of culture.
The stone circle at Steinacleit was only some 10 miles or so south of Port Nis and a short walk up a moorland path from “The Tank”. Dating back some 4000-5000 years the central part of the site it is thought to have been a chambered cairn. There is a surrounding ring of small standing stones but it is relatively indistinct.
Here at the stones we were standing on the edge of total, dun brown, bleakness. This section of coastline comprises a thin belt of crofting land adjacent to the sea, the main road, then peat bog… miles and miles of dull, dull peat bog. With the land following a gentle roll from coast to coast it’s almost impossible to catch an image to demonstrate just how bleak and unforgiving this part of the island can be. There is just a hint of it in the photo below.
(If you use Google Earth why not zoom in on the north of Lewis then zoom further by using the Street View cameras. You’ll be able to see “first hand” what I mean)
Our visit to the stone circle at Steinacleit was followed by a short car journey to the tallest standing stone in Scotland at Clach an Truiseil. At 5.8m tall and some 5000 years old it can’t help but make an impression. Like most of these ancient remains its purpose is subject to speculation, but this stone apparently formed part of a larger site – thought to be a stone circle.
What we didn’t notice at first as we walked up the track towards it was how impressively thin in section it was. I did wonder about its structural stability as we stood in its shadow, I mean how was it fixed in position? Was it like an iceberg with its bulk lurking below ground level? As we stood against the stone pillar straining our necks to see its pointed top, I was rather hoping so!
To round off the afternoon we paid a visit to another beach. This time it wasn’t a beach of sand we discovered at Barabhas (pr. Bar-vas) but a storm beach of big rounded cobbles. Beyond the wave piled stones lay Loch Mor Bharabhais set in an expanse of green tinged machar.
Once a beach, this land had been left high and dry by lowering sea levels, the high calcium content of the sand neutralising the adjacent acidic peat, creating flat fertile ground just behind the shore. The machar is a feature of the Hebrides and is to be found elsewhere on Scotland’s west coastline.
We were running out of steam by now; Day 1 on Lewis had been a busy one. The sun had had a busy day too, having put in a full shift up there in the sky since breakfast time. Knackered from all that effort it began to drop; it was time to go and eat.
The B&B dining room was wonderfully cosy. We decided that finding somewhere open for dinner on Lewis on a Sunday might just be a trifle optimistic, so we settled for whatever was on offer at the farm. Tonight it was brisket of Galloway beef. This had been supplied by a cow who no longer stayed on the farm, where once it happily munched grass in its favourite field as it gazed out across the wild Atlantic Ocean, content with its stress-free bovine existence…”sob!”
But it was rather good! The Fatdog, curled up under the dining room table, was also of the same opinion as from time to time a black hairy head with optimistic eyes would appear in our laps.
In the background a CD was quietly making a big impression. I’ll leave you with the voice that is Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu…worthy of far more than background noise to a trio of beef munching tourists.
…and the Lime Meringue Roulade was stonkingly excellent!
The next episode will contain rants…it may also contain information and photographs…who knows, if we’re really lucky it might even be interesting.