Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Road to the Isles (5) - Sights of interest

We had hoped to go the Butt of Lewis but by this time the mist had fallen - so low that the "white clouds" were at road level and made for uneasy driving. That, combined with a precarious single track road, the decision was made - we'd gone far enough!

So we headed south. We hadn't gone far before the brakes were on and a u-turned was made as Suzanne had, thankfully, spotted a little unit belonging to "Rarebird", the makers of some beautiful Harris Tweed products, particularly bags. We popped into their new premises and had a long and interesting chat with the owners/makers of this lovely brand. Down to the finest detail they displayed quality. Although the tweed fabrics were beautiful I coveted the handmade ceramic buttons, which adorned many of their bags. Alas, they were not for sale! Though a tad disappointed about this, I also approved that they weren't for sale, as they added something to the bags - a statement - that shouted a Rarebird product! The couple have only been in business for 4 years and already they are supplying Japan with their products! How terrific is that? There they were, just ordinary people, who had made a life-changing decision to move to a remote island to try to make a business of what they do well - she the fabrics and he the ceramics. They are doing so well that they are now extending their premises into a unit next door! I just love a success story!

Continuing south we visited an example of the Blackhouse at 42 Arnol where crofting families lived cheek by jowl with their animals with only a wall to divide them. We did the tour and here is what we saw

The house was dark and smoke-filled as you can see and I nearly passed out when I ventured into the bedroom and saw this vision lying asleep in the bedroom!

The peat fire was the centre of family life and was never allowed to go out and that tradition continues at 42 Arnol to this day.

Believe it or not this Blackhouse was occupied until 1966!

When families moved out of a Blackhouse they moved into a Whitehouse (below)

but some couldn't hack it. The owner of this house simply walked away
and left it as it is today. The calendar on the wall by the fireplace is dated 1967.

We had hoped to visit the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, which is a fully restored Blackhouse village where you can rent high standard accommodation. At the bottom of the little street there is a beach, the Atlantic and nothing else between you and the USA!

Because this is a site of interest it is only fair to the occupants that access beyond 5.30 in the evening is not allowed. We arrived too late and the gates were closed so had to grab what pics we could - shame!


  1. Hello:
    How very fascinating all of this is. You are clearly having a most enjoyable and interesting time.

  2. That last photo is just stunning - from another time and place.