Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Hebrides 31: Butt of Lewis

After all that airy-fairy camera waving, I though it was time for a bit of proper photography: namely, some of the birds we saw at the Butt of Lewis.  The Northernmost tip of Lewis boasts an iconic lighthouse and cliffs which are home to plenty of gulls and fulmars.  Given its location, it's also on the flight-path for gannets between St Kilda and the Scottish mainland, so is a great place to watch the birds as they come and go.

No, there aren't any birds in that first picture: it was just a test to see if you were paying attention!  I also included it to give a sense of the craggy cliffs (yet more Lewisian Gneiss) and the vegetation which grows on them.

Looking closer it was possible to see fulmars nesting in the cliffs opposite.  The constant bickering and guano-streaked surroundings were a bit of a give-away.

A few pictures of gannets, gulls (herring and greater black-backed) and fulmars as they flew around the cliffs.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I could have stayed there for hours watching these graceful creatures.

I wasn't the only one, as Harriet was in bird-watchers' heaven.

This is the Butt of Lewis lighthouse.  Not especially attractive in itself, but obviously a very welcome site for a string of cyclists as they arrived having completed the Hebridean Way: a scenic ride from Vatersay in the South to the very tip of Lewis in the North.  All uphill too...

By lunchtime the West side of Lewis was covered in a blanket of thick fog, so we drove back across the Barvas moor to Stornoway, determined to visit the town while it was open!  The two highlights were By Rosie, a shop giving a very modern twist on traditional Harris Tweed, and the Lewis Loom Centre which we'd attempted to visit on Sunday.  The home-made signs were a sight to behold, and we're still not quite sure which animal they're supposed to depict.  Sheep, presumably, but we didn't spot any mutants like these anywhere on our travels.

The Loom Centre itself looked (slightly) less derelict than it had done a week beforehand, but it was obviously doing a roaring trade.  The interior was a veritable Aladdin's Cave of Harris Tweed in all shapes, sizes and colours: a bit like a sweet shop for textile artists like Harriet.  The only problem was deciding which bits of cloth to buy, and this took a little while.  On the plus side, I now know what a "fat quarter" is.

Since we had a very early start the following morning, it was then time to head back to the house to pack everything up and load the car ready for the journey home.  Time to contemplate returning to reality, unfortunately.