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Day 13: Lewis and Harris

It wasn't exactly sunny when we woke up in Stornoway this morning, but it wasn't raining either. The forecast had suggested that today would be dry but cloudy, which was good enough for us. 

With planning this trip at such short notice, I hadn't fully appreciated how large the island of Lewis and Harris actually is. The guidebook explained that it's the third largest island in the British Isles (after Great Britain and Ireland). That meant that seeing the sights we wanted to see today was going to involve a fair amount of driving.

We set off around 10am and initially retraced our journey from yesterday, driving down to the town of Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. There's a famous gin distillery there and we'd wanted to visit the shop when we got off the ferry yesterday afternoon, but unfortunately it closed at 4pm and so we were just slightly too late for it.


Once we'd completed our shopping we drove further south on Harris, towards a place called Luskentyre. We initially missed the turning we were looking for, because a lot of the road signs around here only have the place names in Gaelic and I didn't immediately realise that the sign to "Losgaintir" was the one we needed to follow.

It wasn't too difficult to turn around and we knew we were heading in the right direction when we began to get views of golden sands.


This is Luskentyre beach.


It was recently voted as one of the top 25 beaches in the world in a Tripadvisor poll.


A beach like this certainly wasn't what I would have expected to find in the Outer Hebrides.


There were miles of golden sand and the sea was a beautiful turquoise shade of blue. 


If we'd had a blue sky, I think the photos would have looked quite tropical. But in reality it was a bit cold and windy xD 


It was lovely to visit though and amazing to find such a wonderful beach with so few people on it. Definitely a contrast to the pictures of Bournemouth beach which have been in the press this year!


Once we'd been for a walk on the sands, it was time to get back in the car and drive towards Lewis.


We were heading to the western side of the island, towards a region called Uig (not to be confused with Uig on the Isle of Skye!).


This part of Lewis seems really mountainous and we had some stunning views as we drove.


We were heading towards a small place called Mangersta, which turned out to be a little difficult to track down.  With the help of Google maps, we eventually found the location we were looking for and parked up by the side of the road.


Mangersta is famous for its cliffs and sea stacks and a picture of the sea stacks here features as the cover on the Bradt guide to the Outer Hebrides.


There didn't seem to be a defined path here, so we just walked across the grass towards the cliffs.


Here were the sea stacks which we recognised from the front of the guidebook :) 


They were really beautiful and the sea looked unbelievably calm again today.


The view in the opposite direction was pretty impressive too.


Sea stacks successfully located, we began to retrace our route back towards the centre of Lewis.


There were more scenic mountain views as we drove towards a place called Callanish.


We spotted more golden sands in the distance too.


Callanish is famous for its standing stones, which are one of the most visited sites on the Outer Hebrides.


The stones here are thought to have been erected around 3000 BC.


They were interesting to see but honestly, I think the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney was probably more impressive.


You could get really close to these stones though and there weren't many other people around.


They're in a really scenic area too, with nice views down towards a loch.


Normally there's a visitor centre here to explain more about the history of the place, but like many other things it is closed this year because of the pandemic.


From Callanish we drove further north, towards a place called Port of Ness.


From Port of Ness a small road leads a couple of miles further north to a place called Butt of Lewis.


There's a lighthouse here at the northernmost tip of Lewis.


The Bradt guidebook, rather bizarrely, claims that this is the most northwesterly point in Europe.


It clearly isn't, but it is the most northern point of the Outer Hebrides and as we've visited a few other "most northern" points this holiday, it was fun to visit this one too :) 


That was the end of our whistle-stop tour of Lewis and Harris. Tomorrow morning we're taking a ferry to North Uist and working our way down to the bottom of South Uist, from where we're taking a ferry back to the mainland on Saturday morning.

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