Outer Hebredes

Trip Start May 30, 2013
Trip End Aug 03, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Collected at 8.30 by our new driver/guide, Doug. He's a lot more casual than Richard, possibly a bit more suited to a younger trip, but he does have an eclectic taste in music playing local folk type music which is quite often political in content to good 60/70s music. This time in the group we have the usual Kiwis and Aussies, plus three English, two Canadians, one from Taiwan, and one from Austria.

The almost three hour sail to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis was mill pond smooth and we saw some other type of small whales, dolphin and possibly those other wee heads were seals. We sat on deck as it was such a lovely day. Our guide said it was the best ever sailing he's had.

An hour in Stornoway to look around (population 6,000) and to grab some lunch before heading off for a drive up the west coast and ending up at another beautiful beach. Tides go out a heck of a long way here, nearly as far as on the Kaipara Harbour.

The grandfather and other family members of Robert Louis Stephenson were lighthouse builders and we went to visit one built by them in 1862 at the Butt of Lewis. We did see another one a few days ago but I didn't get close to that one.

The landscape of Lewis is flat flat flat, trees were all cut out hundreds of years ago and there are only patches here and there of current modern day plantings. Peat cutting is big here,and today we got to feel some of it dried for burning and were surprised at how hard it is. There is sparse farming, sheep, a few beef cows and highland cattle.

We saw the largest standing stone in Scotland, it doesn't really look like it as it is a single stone so you don't get the size perspective you would if was with others.

There were two main influxes of Vikings here and the influence on the language is still present, plus they are a last outpost of Gaelic language. Like the Maori language they were forbidden and punished for speaking it until it almost died out.

The first bunch of Vikings were the raiders and pillagers who took men for slaves and women for breeding as they used to kill unwanted female children and suddenly found they were struggling to continue their race. There is a strong maternal genealogical link to Vikings in modern day Iceland. The second wave some 150 years later were more interested in land and cropping and eventually blended into the local population.

We had a first class three course dinner at Digby Chick and then an early night. It's still reasonably light here at 10.30pm
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