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Sabin’s on the Sea 2023 - Day # 22 - Stornoway, Isle of St. Lewis, Scotland

by Nina Sabin - Travel Blog

It was a little tough getting up this morning due to the ship rocking and rolling last night.

We have been so spoiled with smooth waters, that we weren’t used to feeling the movement of the ship.

By the time we woke up this morning it was back to being calm waters.

Today we anchored by 9:30 am and all aboard was at 7:30 pm. This was another small port so we had to tender in.

Another thing we have been grateful for is the weather. Up to today we have had gorgeous weather. Part of today was raining and the other part just a bit overcast. The temperature was about low to mid 60s all day.

Stornoway is the main town of the Western Isles and the capital of Lewis and Harris in Scotland. The town's population is around 6,953, making it by far the largest town in the Outer Hebrides, as well as the third largest island town in Scotland after Kirkwall in Orkney and Lerwick in Shetland.

John made arrangements with Stornoway Car Hire to have a rental car ready for us at the port. It was a very easy process to get the car.

It took some adjustment to drive on the opposite side of the road. John kept thinking, keep the wheel to the center near the line.

I am glad he was driving and not me because that spatial awareness of the passenger’s side being on the left of the car is challenging.

Our Australia friends joined us on journey around Stornoway and the surrounding countryside.

Soon after we got in the car it began to rain. This was a perfect day to be driving and not walking.

The driving route John put together from his research on the internet. We drove about 80 miles in about four and a half hours. It was a circular passage starting from Stornoway to the historic famous sites of the Isle of Lewis.

Our first stop was Callanish Standing Stones.

These ancient stones are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are one of the most popular tourist attractions. This henge, in the shape of a Celtic cross, is the island’s most dramatic prehistoric ruins and dates from 1500 BC.

It was raining pretty hard while we were at Callanish so we didn’t stay long to admire the stones. We took as many pictures as we could under the circumstances. There is a nice cafe and gift shop at the entrance to the stones. After feeling like a wet dog, it was nice go inside, have a coffee, and dry off.

On next stop on our John Sabin driving tour was the remote coastal settlement of Gearrannan. This village is an example of typical ‘black houses’ along the edge of the coast. It’s like a journey back in time. Built out of pear moss, these homes were where folks lived together with their animals until as late as the 1970s.

One of the Scottish gentleman, who oversaw the museum of Gearrrannan, sang a traditional song for the tourists.

There were trails to explore around the black houses. One led to the coast and the other up the mountain to access amazing views of the sea, wind turbines, and surrounding areas.

At this point the rain had let up and it was a nice walk on the trails. However, just as we made it back down the rain came again.

Once again I have to say I was thrilled this was a driving and not walking tour. It was fantastic to be able to get back in a warm and dry car.

As we drove some the rural countryside of the Isles of Lewis we observed lots of sheep and small towns; no trees but lots of pastures with purple heather and sheep.

An unplanned stop that our Australian passengers found on the map was the Whale Bone Arch on the town of Bragar.

In September of 1920 a corpse of an 80-foot long blue whale drifted onto Geodha Nam Muc, Bragar Bay. The Villagers called the whaling to come and retrieve the corpse, but no one came. So the Villagers had to deal with the whale. The arch is made from the jawbone and stands 25 feet tall and about 4 tons. The harpoon that killed the whale is suspended from the top of the arch.

The weather continued to rain on and off as we headed back to Stornoway. Once we returned we were supposed to leave the car to be returned at the ferry terminal parking lot.

It was so crowded due to the ferry arriving that we contact the company and we drone the car to them and the employee gave us a lift to a local restaurant.

By this time the weather was clearing up and were able to walk and explore Stornoway.

Lunch was delicious. We enjoyed delicious burgers and pizza. I was thrilled that they were able to accommodate me with gluten free crust and lactose free cheese. We also couldn’t enjoy our lunch in Scotland with our a pint, John had a local beer, our friend had a Guinness, and I had a Kiwi and Lime Cider. A perfect lunch after a long, wet drive.

We ate at a place called the Crown Inn. The pub is know for it’s history. In 1963, 14 year old Prince Charles walked into the pub and ordered a Cherry Brandy. This caused a major incident for allowing underage drinking.

Since it was Saturday, the town of Stornoway was filled with people. This is the only town in the whole country that has a market and stores.

There was also a festival going on for the locals with fair rides and local groups performing.

After lunch we walked to the Lews Castle from the 1800s and currently can be used for parties and events.

Next to the castle is the Stornoway Golf Course. A group of passengers set up a tee time at the golf course. Hopefully, they still could play due to the weather. We didn’t see them again so we don’t know. I know I don’t enjoy golfing in the rain but it would have been cool to golf in Scotland.

There are many shops In Stornoway including a liquor store. Lots of great choices but none we wanted to bring back with us.

We finished our time in Isle of Lewis by waking along Tolstoy Pier, enjoying the sights of ships and the town.

Tomorrow is another Sea Day through the North Atlantic to our next port, Djipivogur, Iceland. Hopefully, the seas will remain calm.

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