It takes 1 hour 45 minutes to make the journey by ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway, capital of the Isle of Lewis and the largest town in the Western Isles. The name of the town comes from the Viking for "Steering Bay". Much of the town's architecture harks back to more prosperous times, when the harbour housed a significant herring fleet: most notably the Town Hall, which is is a grand Edwardian affair, while Lews Castle on the bank of a river feeding into the harbour mouth is in the mock-Tudor style, although it was built in the 1840s by a business magnate. Many improvements were made to the castle by another magnate, Lord Leverhulme, of Unilever, who bought the Isle of Lewis in 1918 for £143,000. The Museum Nan Eilean puts on exhibitions about the history of the Western Isles. More active pursuits on offer include golfing, go-karting and paintball, while in summer there are boat trips which leave from behind the Lifeboat Station.
One thing visitors to the Isle of Lewis may find hard to get used to is the fact that almost everything closes on a Sunday. Something which seems to be a particular bone of contention to the folks contributing to the "warts and all" Knowhere Guide website (those who object to strong language would do well to resist following the link). However, many people would probably find this aspect of life on Lewis a refreshing change from the 7-days-a-week open-all-hours mentality on the mainland. Things liven up considerably each year in July, with the Sail Stornoway Maritime Festival, which offers sailing events open to all. This year's festival has just ended, as has the Hebridean Celtic Festival, which took place at Lews Castle.
Map of the area.
© 2007 Wmck, via Wikimedia Commons