Exploring the Isle of Lewis

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

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

A later start of 9pm was much appreciated today.

Firstly we visited a Blackhouse at Carloway on the Atlantic coast of Lewis. This is a restored thatched cottage of a typical crofting township of the 1800s. One was actually lived in until the 1970s.

So glad I decided not to go in as they burn peat, no chimney and all those who went in came out stinking of peat smoke. The average age in the days when this was the normal living was 45. Not surprising as they must have smoked themselves like fish.

We visited a small Harris Tweed maker and learned about how it is made and some of the requirements to qualify to use the trade mark. The most important thing seems to be that it is made by hand, or more accurately by foot, as it is foot peddles that send the spindle flying back and forwards. Plus of course it must be made on one of the Outer Isles. Most of their wool comes from the mainland as they can't produce enough locally.

Harris Tweed is going through a resurgence at the moment and is back on the catwalks of Europe. Funnily enough it is Japan that are the biggest buyers.

We went next to Callanish Standing Stones which is "one of the most significant and important megalithic complexes in Europe". This is certainly the largest number of standing stones we've visited.

We managed to have lunch indoors today and enjoyed butternut and sweet potato soup.

After that came Carloway Broch located above Loch an Duin. A Broch in case you don't know is an Iron Age structure designed to impress and defend and were probably the homes of tribal leaders and important members of the community.

They are built with two concentric walls of stone with a stairway and a gallery within the walls of the upper floors. This one is well preserved given that it is over 2000 years old.

To finish the day off we went to visit the newest (add smallest) whiskey distillery on Lewis. It's a one man band started up last year I think it was. We had taste of the raw spirit, yuck and of the whiskey, yuck again. As you all know I hardly ever drink wine and I've never been one to say 'oh yes, you can taste that the sun was shining on the apple blossom the day the grapes were gently snipped from the vine". However I have to say that you could definitely taste the peat in this, just before the surface of your tongue burnt through.

We had a reasonably heavy shower of rain at about 6.30pm, but cleared enough for us to walk down the road for take away Chinese roast duck chow mien.
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