This circular route takes us to Lewis’s most famous archaeological sites.
Arnol Blackhouse, Garennin, Callanish Stones, Carloway Broch – © Mairi M. Martin
Garennin w. flowers – pixabay
From Stornoway we cross the island’s interior peat moorlands to the Atlantic coast.
Passing a number of minor stone circles, we arrive at the celebrated main Neolithic site of Callanish. Hewn from nearby rock outcrops of ancient Lewisian gneiss almost 5000 years ago, this extraordinary monument of standing stones conjures the lives and obsessions of the early farmers who settled here. A café and interpretative exhibition is housed at the visitor centre.
A little further to the north is the Broch of Carloway, a 2000-year-old drystone structure surviving to a height of more than nine metres. This spectacular circular double-walled tower house was the home and fortress of the local Iron Age chieftain, dominating the surrounding land and seacape. It was built to impress and, although a little fragile with age, it impresses us just as much today.
Next is the blackhouse village of Gearrannan, a collection of restored and reconstructed century-old thatched cottages where traditional island life is portrayed, including weaving, crofting and peat-cutting. A shop, café, museum and cultural interpretation are all available in the village.
Many other attractions and landmarks on the return route include a whalebone arch at Bragar, from the jaw bones of a giant blue whale washed ashore in the 1920s.
The Blackhouse in the village of Arnol, occupied until 1966, is a unique experience of how Hebridean life in days gone bye.