The beaches are the best thing about Lewis (did you notice there are five people in Saturday's photograph? Gives an idea of the scale!)
But the words most often used to describe the islands are wild, bleak, harsh, unforgiving. There is nothing pretty about Lewis - the only pretty things I saw were some diminutive wind-dwarfed primroses and the new lambs. It's not that kind of place. They don't call it On The Edge for nothing,
We were in the district of Uig which is very beautiful, but I found the road from Callanish to the northernmost point - the Butt of Lewis - rather depressing. More derelict houses than you'd see in any inner city sink estate! There are the ruins of the blackhouses and beside them the ruins of the whitehouses, and beside those ruins are the ubiquitous bungalows. The latest houses are eco friendly wooden Scandinavian style which I think suit the landscape, but as and when these replace the bungalows will the bungalows too just fall into dereliction? Very bleak. Not redeemed by being turned away from Cafe Sonas at lunchtime at Port Ness because we only wanted coffee and cakes! We offered to sit outside which was empty, but no....and it was the only place to eat
We were grateful for a warmer welcome at Morven Gallery where my friends bought a beautiful print of one of David Wilson's photographs of Luskentyre Beach on Harris.
David Wilson does not shy away from the dereliction in his photographs in Peter May's book Hebrides and I can see that it has visual interest and is redolent of the tragic history of poverty and the clearances, but I still find the evidence of man's hand in this fabulous place distressing!
This great rocky windy isle with it's scant covering of soil and windburned trees and peat bogs has wonderful wildlife and scenery, must be a geologist's dream destination, is popular with super-fit cyclists and campervans - basic but well cared for and spectacularly positioned sites - not many pubs or places to eat and the culture of the present day is not really visible to the tourist. Community run shops and museums are good.
I still have two Outer Hebridean ambitions - one is to see the machair in flower (see the banner photograph on this site) and I would LOVE to swim in one of these shallow sandy bays on a hot sunny day!
Have you been to this part of the world?
What were your impressions?