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Showing posts from May, 2018

Ullapool

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On the shores of coastal Loch Broom in the Northwest Highlands, this pocket-sized fishing town is dwarfed by the car ferries which dock here from Stornoway. For many visitors (and residents) Ullapool is an unexceptional but useful place: not only is it a gateway to the Outer Hebrides, but it has the region's largest supermarket, scores of places to stay and superb hill walks within easy driving distance. On rainy days (which number over 200 each year) you can retreat along with everyone else to the interesting town museum, or visit the waterfall at Corrieshalloch Gorge. Some of the restaurants have become overpriced tourist traps - particularly since the creation of the North Coast 500 driving route which calls here - so check online reviews carefully.


📌 Ullapool ★★☆☆☆
Location: G.R.: NH 128940 ///routines.lads.actual


Within walking distance

>> Ullapool Museum★★☆☆☆



Nearby

>> Rhue Lighthouse & headland★★★☆☆ (3 miles away)


Stornoway

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Stornoway is the capital of Lewis, capital of the Western Isles and by far the largest settlement on this beautiful chain of islands. Your feeling about the place is likely to be influenced by where you approach it from. Arrive here from elsewhere on the island and the town feels like a real metropolis, with exotic sights such as roundabouts (!), chain shops (!) and trees (!). Arrive direct from the mainland ferry and the settlement's "normal" feel may be underwhelming. Whatever your first impression, Stornoway makes a great base to explore Lewis (but not Harris), boasting accommodation and eateries to suit all preferences and budgets. The nearby Lews Castle grounds are also a key draw with good walking trails, an excellent museum and the castle itself.


📌Stornoway ★★☆☆☆
Location: G.R.: NB 423327 ///apart.boardroom.history
Anything else? Some parking has a charge, but there are plenty of free spaces too.


Within walking distance

>> Museum nan Eilean★★★☆☆
>> Walk:…

Lewis War Memorial

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Spend any time around Stornoway and you'll soon notice a large monument on a hill north of the town. This 85-foot stone tower is the Lewis War Memorial, completed in 1924 in the Scots Baronial style to commemorate fallen soldiers from World War I. Visitors to the monument used to be able to climb to the top, but in recent decades you have to be content with the view from the base: the panorama over this part of the island is excellent even from ground level.


📌Lewis War Memorial ★★☆☆☆
Location: Uphill from the top of Slighe Stiubhairt, a mile north of Stornoway town centre, G.R.: NB 417343 ///factored.mainly.personal
Anything else? Park at the top of Slighe Stiubhairt, from which it's a 5-min uphill walk to the memorial on a surfaced path.



Museum nan Eilean

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The Museum nan Eilean (island museum) opened in 2016 and gives a superb introduction to the unique culture, history and scenery of the Western Isles. Rich in both artefacts and information, displays are split across just a couple of large rooms and cover everything from individual island lives to the large-scale drowned landscapes of the Uists. Highlights include the fascinating Lewis Chessman (on long-term loan here), and the rocket fired to Scarp in an experimental attempt to deliver mail. There was also a fairly interesting temporary exhibition about silver on our visit. The high-tech displays contrast with the Victorian grandeur of Lews Castle - the impressive building to which the museum is attached. The castle itself is now mostly given over to luxury accommodation, but you can still wander the ground floor corridors, peer into a few public rooms and visit the cafe. The whole place is very smart indeed: this is possibly the best place on Lewis to be if it's raining, though …

Walk: Lews Castle grounds - Hebridean oasis

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The grounds of Lews Castle cover 270 hectares, providing a lush oasis of coastal woodland on the outskirts of Stornoway which is unrivalled on Lewis. The grounds were originally laid out in 1850 by the merchant James Matheson (you can visit his memorial, commissioned by his wife), who built the castle at the park's centre; the grounds are now under community ownership. Exploring the landscape along with the castle and museum makes for an enjoyable, easygoing half day, with a cafe at the castle if you need refreshment. The views of Stornoway from the coastal stretch of the walk - and also from the summit of Cnoc na Croich - are exceptional on a clear day, but watch out for mountain bikers on the route up.


📌 Walk: Lews Castle grounds - Hebridean oasis ★★★☆☆
▶ 5 km / 3 miles | ▲ 190 metres | ⌚ Short walk
Main summits: Cnoc na Croich (66 metres)
Points of interest: Lews Castle grounds & coastline; Matheson memorial; Lews Castle & Museum nan Eilean
Start / finish: Car park at Àir…

Walk: An Cliseam - peak Harris

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An Cliseam (or just Clisham) is the loftiest hill in the Outer Hebrides: a bulky mass forming a natural barrier between Lewis and most of Harris. It's a popular half-day walk from the roadside layby only two miles distant, but we reckon this direct route is a dull slog, and a lot of effort for a single summit. Look west, though, and you can string together the horseshoe of peaks around Gleann Sgaladail to fashion an island epic. Exhilarating ridge walking and easy scrambling, boulderfields and rough heather, burnside meadows and frustrating bog: there's a bit of everything in this first-rate round. There's surely no better place to survey the whole of the Long Island from a single point, and the contrast between the flat northern and rugged southern panoramas is remarkable. So come prepared for a full day with a variety of terrain types, with paths in short supply while bog certainly isn't. But wet feet are temporary, whereas memories last...


📌 Walk: An Cliseam - peak…