The Butt of Lewis
09.09.2011 - 10.09.2011 14 °C
The Butt of Lewis is the northern most part of the isle of Lewis at 58deg north. There is a lighthouse, 50-something metres tall made from brick but not painted like most lighthouses. They only de-manned it as recently as 1998. Originally there was a lighthouse keeper and two assistant lighthouse keepers staying on site. Now the lighthouse is maintained once a year and operated from Edinburgh.
The cliffs are amazing and there are a few sea stacks, also amazing. Especially the closest one which has a cairn on it. It is a few metres away so too far to jump and I wondered how the person or people got there to construct the cairn. Perhaps they climbed down and up, or did they put a ladder across, or find some other means? One sea stack had a heap of shags perching on it. We had a short walk along the coast - the grass is very short, grazed by the sheep.
As we were leaving I spotted a sandy beach (of which there are a surprising number - pity the temps aren't 10deg warmer). As it was lunchtime we took out wraps down to the beach and sat on a rock having a picnic. As we we sat there we saw a seal in the water. It's head popped up periodically and we guessed that it was fishing. I regretted leaving the binoculars behind.
On the way home we stopped in at a pottery gallery. Most of the island is peat so the clay is likely imported. Next we stopped at a gallery. The art didn't inspire but I was impressed they had a speights poster. Turns out they go to NZ every year for several months at a time. Now that's good advertising for the home country.
Yesterday we drove to Stornoway, the main town on the island. The route is a 30 min drive or so along a one-way road, luckily dotted with copious passing bays. The town centre of Stornoway is quite small - we walked through it in about 5 minutes. We visited the museum which had an exhibition about the Chessmen of Lewis - little character pieces from a board game thought to date back to when there was Viking (Norse) settlement of the island (800-1200 AD). It's actually thought that Gaelic predates the Norse period and was revived afterwards. Another room in the museum outlined the history of Lewis (which we accidentally read in reverse order). A long time ago the island would have had a lot more tree cover but most were chopped down for building of the round houses etc. It's a sort of Easter Island story in that the resources were all used up and then all that's left is stone. Speaking of which, there are dry stone walls EVERYWHERE. Cool!
A hurricane force 12 is forecast for Monday so that'll be interesting!!