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Sunday, 30 June 2013

Outer Hebrides, Scotland - Page 3

Written by Eleanor Bowen-Jones
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One of our main reasons for coming to the Outer Hebrides had been to see some of the wildlife. At £190 per person, an excursion to St Kilda was a bit expensive for us, so we opted for a 3 hour RIB cruise with Sea Trek, which cost £45 each. Setting off from Miavaig on the west coast of Lewis, the cruise took us through Loch Roag, past the islands of Pabbay and Little Bernera, to Gannan Head. We caught sight of a minke whale, some curious seals, two puffins and a host of other sea birds, but the main excitement was caused by a large shoal of basking sharks, who were thoroughly unperturbed by our presence.


Returning to Stornoway the day before our filght home, we had more time to look around than when we arrived. The town is much quieter and smaller than I had expected, with an almost industrial feel.  For dinner, there are a couple of hotel restaurants and a place called Digby Chick which had been recommended to us but, given the frequent taxi trips, was a little outside our depleted holiday budget.  Instead, we found a very decent Indian restaurant called Bangla Spice on Church Street, which seems to be the world cuisine area of Stornoway, where Turkish, Thai and Chinese restaurants can also be found.

Five days was only enough for a taste of what the islands have to offer. If I go back, top of my to do list will be a trip a to St Kilda or the Shiants to see the puffins, and just maybe a killer whale; a visit to the prehistoric Callanish stones in Lewis;  windsurfing in the Uists; Golden Eagle-spotting at the North Harris Eagle Observatory; and ceilidh dancing in Barra.

A place of light in the summer, I suspect the islands would be pretty bleak in the winter with the sun rising late and setting early and wind speeds averaging 18 mph. Despite this, I’m sure there would be a certain dramatic beauty, and if you’re lucky the darkness offers a great opportunity to see the Northern Lights. Cultural life in the Western Isles is very different from places that thrive on the energy and vibrancy of many people brought together, but if you’re looking for solitude, space and wilderness, the Outer Hebrides are intriguing, beautiful islands to explore.


©Eleanor Bowen-Jones




(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Monday, 01 July 2013

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