Strictly speaking this is really the second part of Part 6 – Never on a Monday – but quite frankly when you reach this number of parts – who really cares! 😉
Irrespective if the fact that we’d polished off a big B&B breakfast we were decidedly peckish by early afternoon. After visiting the broch we contemplated lunch at a roadside hotel but when we pulled into the car park, I don’t know; something just didn’t feel right about the place, so we pulled back out onto the road and moved on to Callanish.
Catriona (from the Black House) was perfectly correct, the visitor centre (and café) was shut on a Monday. It seemed odd for it to be closed as there were more than half a dozen cars in the car park during our short time there, but I suppose with staff no doubt down to a minimum and the place being open on a Saturday they would need time off sometime. Given the apparent lack of places to eat, a closed visitor centre (with café) is a big blow.
We discovered a bench on the path to the stone circle and opted to raid our emergency food bag. J tackled the fruit and crisps while I tucked into another giant slab of our hosts inexhaustible flapjack, saved from yesterday’s lunch. The flapjack was proving to be a godsend. I suspect J was regretting there were no cheese and pickle sandwiches today. I wasn’t! The Fatdog eyed The Flapjack. I gave The Fatdog a hard stare!
Callanish was impressive! Older than Stonehenge…and thankfully a lot less crowded.
Mind you I did have to dodge around “the hordes” to ensure person-free photos, but the stone circle is photographic nirvana. Even a “snapper” with my low level of competence couldn’t fail to produce at least one memorable shot.
Considering that prior to their excavation the stones were buried in peat with only the tops visible, it makes what you can see today appear all the more extraordinary.
We’d now seen some ancient remains…so it was time to take The Fatdog to the beach. Uig bay was our destination for today’s coastal amble…but there was a problem.
I could see it…I just couldn’t work out how to get there! The sands at Uig, huge and impressive as they were, were proving elusive. The map wasn’t much help, the blue symbol not being entirely specific as to the location of the car park. We reached the end of a twisting single track road. I asked a local.
He pointed waaayyyy across the bay.
In a soft island accent that suggested English was not his everyday language he said…
“Do you see the white house across the bay with the red roof? Drive along the main road from the shop to the white house with the red roof. The road to the beach is on the other side of the road.”
Remember this, you may need it. As it was we were miles away from where we needed to be. This is where we needed to be!
The tide was out. Empty sand stretched all the way across the bay. In fact the sea appeared to be at least 500m away from where we were standing on the beach.
Ecstatic, The Fatdog thundered across the vast expanse rippling sand in pursuit of her ball.
I tried to photograph the empty space but I don’t think any of the photos I took do it justice…it was just an amazing place to walk. We occupied what would be at high tide a tiny island, exploring the huge granite rocks that created a natural causeway to the dunes beyond. FD and I went exploring up a small rise.
The forecast told us that today would be the last of the sunny days and so we were loathe to leave the beach, but we were getting hungry and it was time to go a-hunting for food. Before we left I checked out the facilities at the car park…again excellent…they don’t half do toilets well in this part of the world.
On the track out from the beach we pulled over to investigate a rather imposing “piece”.
The world famous Lewis Chessmen were found in a stone cist somewhere (exact location not known) in these very dunes!
As we made our retreat from Uig the setting sun blazed relentlessly down the road behind us, reflecting viciously off both “The Tank’s” big wing and rear view mirrors. A few minutes later it blazed directly in through the windscreen – after we realised we’d missed the road to take us to Gallan head and had had to turn around and head back the way we’d just come. It had been a confusing day for roads which was odd…considering there were so few of them.
After safely negotiating the narrow single track to the cliffs at Gallan Head we were disappointed, if not surprised, to find that the hotel wasn’t serving dinner tonight. We were detecting an increasingly common theme. We met someone who suggested a couple of places that would likely be open near our B&B, but warned us against stopping at a certain roadside hotel that I alluded to earlier.
“You’d be better off eating the mats” was how he put it. We were glad our “foody” sixth sense was working well.
As we drove back on the main road to Barabhas the sun finally dropped below the hills and into the sea leaving soft pinks and mauves in the rear view mirror. In front of us things were beginning to look a tad less cheerful. Lifeless mist rolled over the bleak Lewis moorland, hovering over black, peat filled, lochans before slinking into the hollows in the road. On went the headlights. Visibility was dropping quickly with the thickening murk and the onset of twilight.
Somewhere near Siabost we pulled into what looked like a private house. The sign at the roadside said it had a restaurant/bar open 7 days, all day. I peered through the windows into the dark beyond…yep, it was definitely closed…and looked as if it had been so for a while. Never on a Monday…eh!
Our back up plan for food, a trip over the empty boglands to Stornoway, was now a non-starter. Neither J nor I fancied an hour or so crawling over the deserted moor in the fog. We could only hope at least one of the remaining two possible hostelries was open. Other than that it was back to the emergency rations…I still had some flapjack left!
The big screen (visible from the car park) put us off venturing into the bar of the big hotel just east of Galson, but it would be our fallback if our final possibility fell through. We pulled out into the gloom once more.
Our last hope, the Cross Inn ,was in darkness as we pulled in and the sign clearly stated the restaurant was shut.
“Tell me why…”
“…I don’t like Mondays!”
As I reversed to turn back onto the road I glimpsed a light in my rear view mirror: there was a wee bar in an outbuilding behind the hotel. Bare floor, rickety tables and chairs but it had a cosy peat fire going and warm welcome behind the bar for hungry travellers! But were they serving food?
The barman/owner disappeared over to the main building to check with his wife.
Our luck was in and out came the menus. The Fatdog, sensing all was now well, stretched out comfortably on the floor in front of the peat flames to await the arrival of dinner.