A Travellerspoint blog

Arnol Blackhouse

overcast 13 °C

Today's agenda was a visit to a reconstructed blackhouse and a Norse mill. A blackhouse is a traditional house made of stone (everything here is made of stone - wood is in short supply) with a turf and thatch roof. Sounds a bit lilke a broch? Yes, except it is horizontal, not vertical. Animals were kept at one end of it or in the outer rooms. Again there was a fireplace in the middle of the main room and box beds for the family. The blackhouse is called a blackhouse because more recently the building style changed to whitehouses ie a more modern looking house that was limed on the outside giving it a white appearance.

Nearby there is a Norse mill. This one has two buildings - one had a hopper which grain was fed in to with a millstone powered by water diverted from the stream. The other building had a drying kiln.

After lunch Louise and I practised karate in the community hall. The weather is still grey and we are having a fire tonight.

My wildlife tally now includes a heron, snipe, grouse, ravens, crows, bunnies, a slow worm (looks like a snake), a curlew, a robin red-breast and a dozen rockdoves who come every day to have breakfast on the lawn.

Posted by pythagnz 10:07 Archived in Scotland Comments (2)

Broken Broch

overcast 14 °C

The weather is slowly getting greyer and the clouds look threatening though haven't really delivered much rain. But we decided to have a couple of local walks and tourist activities today. The first was to a standing stone circle called Na Dromannan. Except the standing stones weren't standing, they were flat and the thinking is that they were never placed upright. This brings up many questions like why create a standing stone circle but not complete it? Lugging the stones into place would have required quite a bit of work.

On the way back home from the circle we stopped at Dun Carloway, a broch, or stone house. These were the houses owned by prominent families in an area and were a sign of prestige. It's estimated it would have taken 20 people about a year to construct one. It has a double-skinned stone wall and there was a staircase between the walls that led to the first floor. The ground floor was occupied by animals. The roof was a turf and thatch mix and there was a fireplace in the middle of the floor. Like the standing stones, we were impressed at how the stones were put into place, especially the big stones like the lintel. And also, the relatively smooth sloping walls.

In the evening we went Dail Beag (small meadow) - a local beach. It is a beautiful sandy beach and we had a cliff top walk so we could look at a rock arch. It is a beautiful coastline.

PS: The photos are on Facebook

Posted by pythagnz 10:05 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Sunday on Suaineabhal

sunny 16 °C

Sunday is a day of rest here in the Western Isles and all kinds of work (including working in your garden or doing your washing) are frowned upon. But walking is a permitted activity and that is just fine with us as that is a favourite activity. So...

Suaineabhal is a 429m hill that looks, and is, more impressive than the height sounds. We made a day trip of climbing it beginning with a 30 minute-ish drive through the rocky scenery reminiscent of Central Otago. The walk started at a bridge and had a small waterfall and enticing looking plunge pool. Enticing, that is, if the temperatures are 30deg or so, which they weren't. But it was fairly warm for the latitude and I was comfortable in a pair of shorts all day.

A quick flat walk across some boggy ground took us to a grassy ramp where we began the climb to the summit. We followed grassy gullies through the rocky terrain and made the summit in good time. There are great views in all directions, though the landscape has a sameness to it.

A tarn on a small plateau a bit below the summit beckoned to us so we went for a closer look. A sloping slab gave a brief interlude of scrambling/climbing and then we followed our noses down a different route until we rejoined the first gully we had climbed. From here we had a slight detour to a ruined sheiling - a small stone building used in summer by fishermen or shepherds. We had views up and down a couple of lochs from here. Thirty minutes of walking took us back to the car, happy after a good day in the outdoors.

Posted by pythagnz 09:43 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Golden Moments

semi-overcast 16 °C

The agenda for today was a small walk starting (and ending) at the front gate. We weren't aiming for anything ambitious as I was still tired after the travel.

The destination was a small ben (hill) called Laimiasdair (don't ask me how to pronounce it). It only takes about 10 minutes or so to climb it from the base. A bit longer if you stop to look at the views and investigate various stone constructions. We decided to descend off the other side to make a round trip and as we did I spotted a couple of birds of prey that turned out to be Golden Eagles. They soar on the currents with wingtips spread like fingers. Magnificent birds. Later we found a gull that had been recently killed and wondered if we had disturbed the eagles - the gull had a couple of puncture marks in its body which could have been caused by the talons of the eagle.

The coastline here is magnificent. Similar to Banks Peninsula with many rocky inlets. I spotted a seal in a churning sea so I ended up with quite a good wildlife count - 2 golden eagles, a pair of crows or ravens, a seal, and a couple of peregrine along with some more common place birds like various gulls.

Posted by pythagnz 10:36 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Fly me Flybe

Getting There

semi-overcast 16 °C

I left home about 12:45 on Thursday afternoon. Almost two full days later I arrived at my final destination - the village of Borrowston on the Isle of Lewis.

It was a journey of encounters as one of my friends was on the same bus to the airport and we were able to have a quick catch-up. And then in Sydney as I was waiting to board the flight to Dubai when I saw Shelley wander past. She was on the same flight as me, sitting in the row ahead of me but on the other side of the plane. Spookily she was also heading to Glasgow but a day later than me as she was spending a night in Dubai. Even more spookily she was leaving for home on the same route as me but a day earlier.

One of the most interesting parts of the journey for me was flying over the Middle East. We flew pretty much directly over Baghdad and along the path of the Tigris River. There were good views all the way from Dubai to Europe until (predictably) leaving the Netherlands to fly across the North Sea. Then it was cloud until landing in Glasgow.

I had a 4 hour wait in Glasgow but luckily my upgraded ticket to Stornoway included access to the FlyBe VIP lounge. (FlyBe is the name of the airline that operates the domsetic flight to Stornoway). This meant a complimentary beer to celebrate the almost-completion of the long haul halfway round the world & pilfering a bag of chips to eat later.

I couldn't help but nod off for most of the trip to Stornoway. Though clouds are interesting, the land is even more interesting. Especially if it is peat lands and rugged coastline and small villages of breeze block stone houses - the descent and land landing at Stornoway had me attentive despite my sleepiness.

So, here I am. After 30+ hours in airplanes and about 43 hours of total travel time (plus a day's rest), I finally arrived. I look out the window to a sea loch, green rocky hills with a few houses and the ubiquitous UK cloud. But more on that later.

Posted by pythagnz 12:27 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

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