… and Harris… and Beàrnaraigh Mòr.
Three islands in 4 days. Well, kind of. Read on…
Beàrnaraigh Mòr (Great Bernera if you prefer the Anglicised name) is an island in its own right. It is connected to Lewis by a small bridge, but it is still a bona fide island. It is small – population 252. I visited it on my last trip to Lewis, but it hosts one of my favourite beaches and I decided to renew the acquaintance. Nothing has changed. It is still beautiful.
Lewis and Harris share the single island known as Lewis and Harris. Someone somewhere must know why one island has two names and two halves, but it is not I. Lewis occupies the northern half.
To avoid allegations of favouritism, I visited both. Purely out of convenience, my accommodation was in Lewis – a settlement called Bac (Back in English) just north of Stornoway.
I had a few objectives in mind for my trip. Seeing places I missed the last time was one of them. Box ticked. On my only full day I drove south through Na Bàigh (The Bays) on South Harris’ east coast. It is quite jaw dropping. Desolate. Almost uninhabited, but with tiny communities hanging onto the rocky shores. Beautiful too.
After that I drove north on the west coast of South Harris – white sand beaches and turquoise water. More beauty.
That evening (sunset was about 22:00 at the end of May) I went to the most northerly point in Lewis – Rubha Robhanais (Butt of Lewis in English). The landscape there is different again to what you find in Harris. Still beautiful, of course.
Another objective was to eat well. I had dinner in my bed and breakfast one night – I really enjoyed it and it was great quality. Being “at home” meant I could have a couple of glasses of wine with it. The other night I went to HS-1 in Stornoway. It falls into the casual dining category, but I loved it. Relaxed and relaxing, plus top quality and great value for money.
My 5 star bed and breakfast produced 5 star breakfasts. This limited my lunch options.
Having said that, I had my best sandwich for a long time from Loomshed Deli in Tarbert. Fresh and quality ingredients – goat’s cheese, chutney and rocket on a wholemeal roll. I sat in the sun and ate it while looking out over the village. The other lunchtime I got more good quality light stuff at The Storehouse, which is part of the Lews Castle Museum and a very pleasant place indeed.
In all these places the service was friendly and professional, and that professionalism included their pandemic hygiene arrangements.
Another box ticked.
My final objective – apart from enjoying myself which is kind of self-evident – was to get as far away from home as possible, and not just in the geographic sense. I already knew Lewis and Harris would get me to that objective. It is like another world compared to central Scotland.
That was my 4th visit, but the first two were day trips to Stornoway for work. I would go back, without a doubt. A little research has indicated that I could have a few days just hiking now that I have used the car to explore most corners of the island(s).
ⓒ iain taylor, 2021