A Travellerspoint blog

March 2018

Travel Tips - Leòdhas (Lewis) & Na Hearadh (Harris)

sunny 8 °C
View Steòrnabhagh on IainT's travel map.

Skyscape

Skyscape

I flew to Steòrnabhagh (Stornoway) for my March visit to Leòdhas (Lewis) and Na Hearadh (Harris). It was with Loganair from Edinburgh. The cost was £169 return, which included a 20kg checked in bag (all their fares do). They use small planes with very limited cabin baggage space, so it’s a sensible policy. I booked 2-3 months ahead.

Loganair Saab 340 at Steòrnabhagh

Loganair Saab 340 at Steòrnabhagh

That price doesn’t include seat selection. I was allocated 3A on both flights. Row 3 is level with the propellors, and so there are no windows. If you want a good view during the flight, think about paying extra to be sure of the right seat.

Stornoway Airport is small, but perfectly formed. It has what you need - car rental, a cafe/bar etc - but none of the hassle of larger airports. No check-in queues. No security queues. Super quick baggage delivery. The car park (and rental cars) are 20m away.

Steòrnabhagh Arrivals

Steòrnabhagh Arrivals

I rented my car from Carhire Hebrides. They seem to be the only company with a desk in the airport terminal. The cost was £108 for 2 days, which includes £20 for the “optional” CDW insurance to bring the excess down to £200.

That price was for a category B car - a Vauxhall Corsa. It had just 3,000 miles on the clock, so it was almost brand new, and pretty good for the kind of driving I was doing. I covered 196 miles over the 2 days and the petrol cost me £27. Fuel is more expensive than on the mainland. As I had to return the car full of fuel, the rental company kindly flagged up the only filling station open on Sunday (10am to 4pm).

Standing Guard

Standing Guard

It is a wonderful place to drive. The roads are so quiet. You do have to slow down when you see sheep by the roadside - they can be unpredictable.

I spent my 2 nights in the Stornoway B&B. It was excellent, and great value at £50 per night (double room for single occupancy) - which includes a massive breakfast. I hardly needed any lunch. It is in the town centre and very handy for restaurants. I think that was a low season price, so no doubt it costs more in spring and summer.

B&B

B&B

I had dinner in a Bangladeshi restaurant on my first night - it was fine but nothing to get excited about. On the Saturday night I ate at An Lanntair, which overlooks the harbour. The food (a lamb burger with salad and chips) was excellent. So was the view.

An Lanntair

An Lanntair

I had coffee and a scone in the visitor centre at Calanais - both were excellent and it’s a lovely location to just sit and relax.

Calanais

Calanais

Coffee and cake was my treat in the coffee shop at the Museum nan Eilean - also really good, and a lovely place.

Steòrnabhagh

Steòrnabhagh

Yes... Sunday. Tradition and religious observance mean that almost everything is closed. Bavarians will feel right at home. Flights on a Sunday are a relatively new thing, and still strongly opposed by many. The airport was the only obvious place I could find to have lunch or even a coffee. It is all part of the way of life, but you should be aware of it when planning a trip. Beaches and so on are fine, but anything involving a visitor centre will most likely be shut.

Àrnol Blackhouse

Àrnol Blackhouse

On the Sunday morning the lady who was serving breakfast in my B&B invited me to help myself to whatever fruit and yoghurt I wanted to take away for my lunch. That was very considerate and sums up the locals pretty well.

You will notice that Gaelic is much more prominent than on the mainland. Most street signs are in Gaelic first with the English version in smaller letters underneath, or they may be in Gaelic only. On the the hand passenger announcements at the airport are in English only.

You will hear Gaelic spoken, but Gaelic speakers will always speak English first to someone who isn’t local.

Posted by IainT 13:37 Archived in Scotland Tagged landscapes beaches scotland transport flights lewis airlines stornoway islandlife steòrnabhagh leòdhas na_hearadh Comments (0)

Na Hearadh

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Quiet

Quiet

My final day on Leòdhas (Lewis). I had half the day (less 1 hour) on the island and was back at the airport about 14:30 for my 16:15 flight.

Losgaintir

Losgaintir

This time I drove south, out of Lewis and into Na Hearadh (Harris). I had some idea what to expect but was still amazed by the difference between the undulating moorland of Lewis and the rugged hills of North Harris. Then I had a chance to be amazed by the raw, rocky wilderness of South Harris.
I went as far as the famous beach at Losgaintir (Luskentyre) on the west coast of South Harris. It is quite something...

Calm

Calm

It was a Sunday. Tradition and religious observance mean that almost everything is closed. Flights on a Sunday are a relatively new thing, and still strongly opposed by many.

Posted by IainT 11:30 Archived in Scotland Tagged beaches lewis stornoway islandlife steòrnabhagh leòdhas na_hearadh Comments (0)

Leòdhas

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Bostadh

Bostadh

I’m so glad I went to Leòdhas (Lewis). It really is worth seeing.

On Saturday I drove north to Barabhas (Barvas) on the northwest coast of Leòdhas (Lewis), and then turned southwest to follow the coast road through Àrnol (Arnol). I stopped there to visit the Blackhouse museum. It is excellent.

Àrnol

Àrnol

My next stop was in Càrladhagh (Carloway), again to see blackhouses, but they were closed - reopening for the season the week beginning 26 March.

Càrladhagh

Càrladhagh

Calanais (Callanish) was next on the itinerary. The Bronze Age tursachan (or standing stones). They are amazing. The largest is 4.8 metres high. How? Why?

Calanais

Calanais

Then I crossed onto another island - Beàrnaraigh Mòr (Great Berneray). The beach at Bostadh needs a mention. White sand and turquoise water. Beautiful.

Bostadh

Bostadh

After that I headed back to Steòrnabhagh (Stornoway) to visit the Museum nan Eilean. It is small, but informative. The coffee shop is great too.

Museum nan Eilean

Museum nan Eilean

In the evening I had a pleasant dinner at An Lanntair - the town’s artistic hub. It overlooks the harbour so dinner comes with a view. My lamb burger was delicious.

An Lanntair

An Lanntair

Posted by IainT 23:23 Archived in Scotland Tagged beaches scotland lewis islandlife leòdhas Comments (0)

Steòrnabhagh

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View Steòrnabhagh on IainT's travel map.

I’m on another visit to the Scottish islands - my first of 2018.

This time the destination is Steòrnabhagh (Stornoway) on Leòdhas (Lewis). I had the choice between driving and taking a ferry, or flying and renting a car.

Edinburgh Departures

Edinburgh Departures

The drive/ferry option would take about 7 hours, so for a 2 night trip it just isn’t sensible. I don’t remember how the relative costs work out, to be honest.

Loganair flies from Edinburgh to Steòrnabhagh, so that helps. It’s a 75 minute journey according to the timetable. My flight was great. We left a little early and arrived 20 minutes early. They were using a Saab 340 turboprop for the service.

Ready!

Ready!

Loganair used to be a well known name in these parts, but for many years they operated Scottish flights as a British Airways franchise. Then they switched to FlyBe. Last year they decided to go it alone again, and revived the brand.

Loganair Saab 340 at Steòrnabhagh

Loganair Saab 340 at Steòrnabhagh

Using small airports like Steòrnabhagh is a breath of fresh air. By the time I’d got into the terminal and used the toilet, the bags were there to collect. Car rental took no more than 5 minutes to deal with, and the car was less than 100m from the terminal. The town is a 5 minute drive away.

Steòrnabhagh Arrivals

Steòrnabhagh Arrivals

I’m not here to see Steòrnabhagh. I was here twice before, on day trips for work. I just want to see the rest of the island.

Posted by IainT 11:22 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland transport airlines stornoway islandlife steòrnabhagh Comments (0)

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