Highlights of the Hebrides
History & Heritage on the edge of the Atlantic
The Outer Hebrides are impressive all year round but when the summer ends and there are fewer people, the landscape steps up to take centre stage. Spending time here in autumn is bracing, restorative and beautiful. Whilst the summer midges are gone, the island’s wildlife is still active and with little light pollution and a clear night’s sky, there is a good chance of spotting the ‘Mirrie Dancers’ - the Aurora Borealis. Quite apart from offering an incredible landscape, the Outer Hebrides are home to a stunning array of archaeological finds, from Neolithic cairns, Iron Age houses and Norse Mills, to the more recent Blackhouses, crofting houses which appear to come from another age but are only little more than a century old. Unique among the artefacts are the spectacular Standing Stones at Callanish built according to astronomical observations at the height of the Bronze Age in 1800 BC.
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Day 1 - London – Lewis
Today we meet up at Ullapool and take an early evening, 3-hour ferry to Stornaway. On our arrival in Lewis, we will transfer to our lovely hotel.
|Hotel||Caladh Inn, Stornaway|
Day 2 - Harris
We start the day with a visit to Harris, whose mountainous environment is so different from Lewis’. Here we visit St. Clement’s Church at Rodel, built in the late 15th century for the MacLeods of Harris, including Alasdair Crotach MacLeod whose wall tomb, dating to the early 16th century, is one of the finest in Scotland. We continue with a visit to the Genealogy Centre at Northton, which explores the factors which contributed the development of the various island communities in the Hebrides. We conclude the day with a visit to the Clach Mhic Leoid, or MacLeod’s Stone, a 10-foot-tall standing stone overlooking Harris’ stunning north western shore, which may originally have been a burial cairn.
Day 3 - Lewis
This morning we venture to Great Bernera to visit the Bosta Iron Age Village, dating to the 8th-7th century BC which includes 9 interconnected buildings. We continue to the superb Standing Stones of Callanish, the most important Bronze Age standing stones in the Western Isles. In the afternoon, we visit St. Columba’s Ui church, the most intact medieval structure on Lewis, before moving onto Lewis Castle where we will explore the home of the famous Lewis Chessmen, the iconic 12th century chess pieces carved from walrus bone, possibly in Norway.
Day 4 - Lewis
The day begins with an exploration of Carloway Broch, a remarkably well preserved 1st century AD fortification which was reused in the 17th century as a stronghold under the Morrisons of Ness. We then proceed to the Blackhouses at Gearannan and Arnol, typical crofting settlements found until recently in the Western Isles, which housed humans and livestock alike. After this, we explore the Norse Mill at Shawbost, a reconstruction of an Iron Age mill powered by a local stream flowing out of Loch Roinavat, which gives us an interesting glimpse into Lewis’ Scandinavian past. Our last visit of the day is to Clach an Trushal, an imposing 6-metre-tall standing stone which is one of the tallest in Scotland.
Day 5 - Lewis
The Butt of Lewis lighthouse stands on high cliffs at the very northmost point of the island, casting a light 20 miles into the wild North Atlantic, with nothing between you and Newfoundland 2000 miles due west. Nearby at Eoropie lies the little medieval Church of St. Moluag, possibly built the by son of a Scandinavian king and which was a place of pilgrimage to those seeking healing. Nearby, we will also explore the mysterious site of Steinacleit, a possible prehistoric farmstead, revealed by peat cutting in the 1920s. The afternoon is yours to explore Stornoway.
Day 6 - Lewis - London
On our last day, we take an early morning Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool, from where we continue our independent onward journeys.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach
- Meals as per the itinerary, wine and tea or coffee with dinner
- Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
- All taxes & gratuities
- Field notes
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|26 October 2022||AHEB221026||26 October 2022 (Wednesday)||31 October 2022 (Monday)||Peter Yeoman||£1,795
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