Life at the end of the road

August 3, 2018

Very educational :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, food, stonework — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:49 pm

Well, that’s it, just spoke to Angus Campbell at Kilda Cruises and it looks like we’re ‘good to go’ Smile Methinks that with a westerly F4/5 forecast it’s gonna be pretty lumpy right enough but I’ve no mentioned that to the girls yet Smile St Kilda is 40 odd miles out into the Atlantic Ocean so exposed to say the least.

Orca III at Rockall Hirta

However, Angus operates two extremely fast, safe and serious craft for his trips out there. A Safehaven Wildcat 53 and Interceptor 55 both of the highest spec.

Anyway, today, unfortunately was a ‘none diving’ day spent exploring the west side of Lewis and very enjoyable it was too. By the time the rest of the team had surfaced and we’d breakfasted it was well after 10:00am and my lips were sore from biting them. Me, I like to get up early and get on with stuff, had it been up to me we’d have been finishing our first dive by that time, not just thinking of where to go Smile Still it’s their holiday as well as mine and I’ve done all this stuff before, so after reluctantly leaving the Searider behind we headed off to the broch at Dun Carloway.

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Sure, I’ve been to many brochs, there’s even one on Raasay but this one, along with Mousa on Shetland and the one at Glenelg have to be the finest. They seem to be a truly Scottish phenomenon and if the archaeologists are honest with themselves not much is known about the people that built them or the reason why they’re so similar.  Over 500 of these structures have been found throughout Scotland, predominantly in Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and around the north and west coasts. By far the best preserved being the one at Mousa off Shetland then Glenelg but Dun Carloway is pretty impressive too.


As are some of the more modern ‘black house’ nearby, no doubt built with stones from the broch, recycling on an epic scale so to speak Smile

After that we drove a few miles north west to Gearrannan black house village


Which, beyond all expectations proved to be absolutely riveting, I kid you not. I had been before and guess it must have been closed so I spent most of my time inspecting the 3 Proven/Kingspan wind turbines nearby. However today it was fully open and we must have spent a couple of hours there.

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The highlight being watching a chap weave some Harris Tweed on a century old loom. Me, I was pure fascinated by this for you had what must have been (in its time) the height of technology inserted in what was basically a mud hut in the middle of nowhere. Can you even imagine getting one of these things from Keighley in Yorkshire to Lewis 100 years ago. The thing must have cost several years wages.

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To all intents and purposes this thing was a cast iron computer and required an operator with extreme dexterity and skill, it was boodly amazing Smile

And, as if that wasn’t enough antiquarian technology our next ‘port of call’ was a Norse mill and kiln at Shawbost.

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Now this truly was a marvel and allegedly pre dates the Vikings, not at this particular site but in China where these have been in use for millennia.

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Water was directed down that channel to turn the paddles below then exited from that square hole. the image on the right is the pit from the building in the foreground where the fire was lit to dry the grain.

Next stop was the Trussel stone at Barvas and it’s guard dog.

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Apparently the tallest standing stone in Scotland and the dog had an extra claw on its hind legs too Smile 

After that it was off to Port of Ness

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and then the Butt of Lewis,

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which quite bizarrely is the best spot I’ve ever found for edible field mushrooms. Not sure if they’re St Georges shrooms, field shrooms or horse shrooms but I’ll be having them for breakfast tomorrow Smile


  1. What a lovely day and experience for your family.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — August 3, 2018 @ 11:35 pm

  2. I took the trip out to St Kilda with Angus a few years ago, the Atlantic was almost flat so a fantastic day. I cant remember the year but the Spinningdale was on the rocks at the time.

    Comment by David Butler — August 4, 2018 @ 8:38 am

  3. Looking forward to hear of your St Kildan adventure.

    Comment by SOTW — August 4, 2018 @ 3:59 pm

  4. Remember my trip St Kilda, amazing place but trapped in a cabin with many vomiting passengers began to tell on my stomach unusually. How they managed to jump to Stac Lee etc. To collect birds defeats me.

    Comment by Ron — August 4, 2018 @ 6:11 pm

  5. Seeing the Norse Mill made me remember you also have piped water running downhill on Rasaay. Perhaps you might fashion a blender for the kitchen? 🙂

    Comment by drgeo111 — August 4, 2018 @ 6:54 pm

  6. Great post mate, really enjoyed the local knowledge and information you add to your experiences. The produce of your kitchen left me feeling there is not much requirement for a blender 🙂

    Comment by Lloyd — August 7, 2018 @ 9:39 pm

  7. Re the looms coming from Keighley to Lewis, we had two Coastlines ships come into Stornoway from the Mersey, maybe Manchester Canal, every week when I was in school sixty odd years ago. There were also cargo vessels from the Clyde and the mailboat from the railheads at Mallaig and Kyle. These services had run for years before I was born. After the ferries arrived road haulage took over. Believe it or not things were not relatively more expensive to transport in the old days.

    Comment by Murdoch MacKenzie — August 22, 2018 @ 6:32 pm

    • Many thanks for that Murdoch, I remember similar stories about the mail and orders from JD Williams in Manchester. How stuff was carried for miles over the hill and even in small rowing boats to the likes of the Rona light keepers. I guess we’re not that much better connected these days, just quicker perhaps.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 23, 2018 @ 5:39 am

      • Yes, quicker and there is better material handling equipment available today. For heavier stuff like a loom, you would get word of the shipment by post. You could ask a local carrier to collect it from the warehouse and he would bring it to you in his lorry or cart. There was always enough man and woman power to help with the unloading.
        If you wanted a bike, you sent a fiver to a place in Glasgow that bought them at the lost property auctions. It was a lucky-dip, you could end up with a big roadster or a snappy racer but they were always in good condition.

        Comment by Murdoch MacKenzie — August 24, 2018 @ 8:53 am

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