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Lewis and the Calanais (Callanish) stones

The Callanish Stones

There is a decent bus service from Loch Grimshader and I got a bus into town for a fact finding mission. While waiting, I took time to notice how, in the time since we had been in Moidart, the light had changed to a more golden hue. A sign of autumn in the changing light but also an indication of how far north we had come. The loch itself isn't all that picturesque and whilst an all-weather anchorage it is exposed to winds, not really a problem with our huge anchor and heavy chain. The winds and long distance to the shore means that one can be stuck on the boat for days on end.

I arrived in Stornoway on a crisp, blustery day with intermittent rain. I shed my outer water proof layer for comfort and went to explore. Stornoway is a small town with a huge ferry terminal, a decent sized fishing fleet and town basin marina. I immediately liked the small streets and quaint deserted feel. In spite of the handful of Harris tweed shops this town does not seem to cater to tourists. Firstly, I went in search of the marina, to check out the facilities, after which I went in search of op shops. I found half a dozen or more, and it being Monday, not all were open but some afforded interesting browsing. I had hoped to find more wool shops, there seems to be only one. I also found two really good fish and seafood shops, two large supermarkets, a fishermens co-op/chandlery.

Famous Stornoway kippers, perfect for kedgeree

The town is overlooked by Lews Castle, a Victorian era castle that now houses a university among other things. The castle grounds seemed to be a great place for walks or runs and definitely mushroom foraging. The big trees and green lawns providing a welcome green backdrop to an otherwise tree-less, heathery, peaty, stoney landscape. Said bold landscape is beautiful in it's own right, a wildness and raw feel that can be breathtaking, but I do love a forest. I arrived back to the boat with a big bag of scampi tails for dinner. Succulent sweet morsels in garlic butter, yum.

The main stone circle

Stone circle 2

Fuel for ritual growing in the stone circle, does that make them more magical I wonder...

Unlike NZ or Australian sheep these fellas just stare, they don't run away

The following day we took a bus to view the Callanish standing stones, an ancient stone circle that pre-dates Stonehenge and located not far from Stornoway. The aspect of the standing stones is universally impressive, and incomprehensible to imagine the effort it took the builders to make it using only wood and stone implements. The sheer thin-ness of some of the large stones is truly amazing. There are three circles in the immediate area and according to the information board, many more scattered around Lewis and Harris—obviously a hot spot for ritual!

It's so gneiss... stone dogs bowl at the visitors centre
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