This is our second and last full day on Lewis, having decided to spend an extra day in Harris at Flodabay Farm. The campsite at Shawbost, although rather cramped, has worked out well, having good clothes washing facilities and showers. No fewer than three washloads today!
Then we were off to visit the famous Butt of Lewis, the most northerly point in the Isles.
First of all, however, we decided to visit the Blackhouse at Arnol. This particular one was built just over 100 years ago but houses like this were a legacy of the island’s Viking past. Originally they were just called ‘houses’ but when a new type of building with lime mortar was introduced 150 years ago, they were commonly called ‘blackhouses’, while the new houses were ‘whitehouses’ just to differentiate.
The original blackhouse at Arnol is looked after by Historic Scotland and, just as with Kisimul Castle on Barra, we found our English Heritage membership meant we paid nothing. The man in the visitor centre couldn’t have been more helpful and we enjoyed watching a black and white silent film made in 1936, showing life in typical blackhouse villages across Lewis.
I have included a photo of some of the information in case it’s of interest.
This particular blackhouse was lived in as recently as 1966. All blackhouses were of the same construction and consisted of a living room, a bedroom, a barn and a byre for their animals. In other words, man and beast lived under one roof. Heating and cooking was courtesy of an open peat fire in the centre of the living room. There was no chimney. Accounts of life in a blackhouse village make it sound an idyllic lifestyle with friends and neighbours dropping in for a chat or a social evening. I’m sure life was pretty hard though.
The second house was a whitehouse which was lived in until relatively recently by a brother and sister. The interior has been preserved with the occupants’ own furniture and household accessories and is incredibly interesting.
After purchasing some books and a new hat for me (so cosy) we headed northwards to the Butt. The scenery is flat in this part of Lewis, with wide vistas and huge skies.
The lighthouse at the Butt is very impressive, built in 1862 and apparently machine-gunned by a German plane in 1940, although little damage was caused.
There was a sheer 100 foot drop off of the headland with no handrail or even a warning! People were letting their children and dogs out of their cars and allowing them just to run off – I couldn’t believe it.
Gulls were nesting in crevices in the cliffs, which were covered in lichen and wild flowers.
Amongst the rocks below, the waves were crashing in a most dramatic fashion.
We spent what was left of the day driving down the few roads we hadn’t already been down, taking photos as we went.
This house had many curiosities outside their front gate!
It was a great day and I have to say it’s definitely getting warmer!
You certainly set the tone for the magnificent, scary and dramatic coastal photographs with a glorious header photo. The blackhouses and whitehouses look incredibly interesting. I wonder if there’s a market for renting out a blackhouse as an alternative way to holiday on the island?
Another new hat – photographic evidence required.
Great capture of the gannet diving!
Ah well, with the recent sunny weather, you might have to wait a bit for the hat! Dad was pleased you liked his gannet. 🙂
The photos for this leg are absolutely lovely – particularly loved the interior shots of a fascinating house/houses. Can’t tell you how glad the sun is shining for you both.
Thanks MargareT 🙂