We have done a big tour of the north of Scotland, the Hebrides and Aberdeenshire to explore walks and visit accommodation where our walkers will be staying the coming season.
Our first stop was the Isle of Lewis, Eilean Leodhais in Gaelic. Lewis is the most northerly island of the Outer Hebrides or Western Isles. The Outer Hebrides are not included in our holiday programme, but we take private groups there almost every year.
Butt of Lewis coast with the Atlantic battering the coast
One of this year's private groups will hike around the Butt of Lewis and we wanted to be sure that the walk is suitable for the group and have a look at the sites of archaeological interest, since the tour will have an archaeological theme.
The Butt of Lewis, Rubha Robhanais, is the most northerly tip of Lewis and is supposed to be the windiest place in the UK. The wind was not too bad when we were there except during some blustery showers we got. It is a great walk with lots of interest. A rocky coast with cliffs, arches, stacks and some beautiful beaches. History and archaeology is also plentiful, so a perfect choice for this private archaeological tour.
We parked at Eoropaidh and started with visiting Teampall Mholuaidh, St. Molveg's Church, which dates from between the 12th and 14th century and was once one of the three main centres of Christianity in the Western Isles. The church is recorded as being a centre for pilgrimage in the 16th century when the sick and infirm came here seeking miraculous cures for their ailments, sores and insanity.
Teampall Mholuaidh, St. Molveg’s Church
We retraced our steps and followed the coast clockwise past an intriguing string of nine shielings (?) to Luchruban, a sea stack with the remains of an early Christian monastic settlement, overlying traces of a prehistoric settlement. We continued along the coast past the red-brick Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, built in 1862 and crossing a large expanse of lazy beds.
Approaching Dùn Èistean
Dùn Èistean was our next stop. This small, cliff-bound island is the site of a medieval fort. Until recently it could only be reached at low tide by climbing a steep cliff path, but you can now access the island by crossing a steel footbridge. The ruins on Dùn Èistean date to the time following the demise of Norse political control of the Hebrides in the 13th century, when Lewis underwent a period of unrest and lawlessness.
Crossing the bridge to Dùn Èistean
From here we followed a track to the road and back along the road to the minibus.
The walking is easy. It was wet underfoot, but it will be drier in the summer. Fingers crossed that it will be a nice day when we take the group there.
Looking back from Dùn Èistean to the lighthouse on the Butt of Lewis with lazy beds left of the lighthouse