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Friday, 11 November 2011

Exploring northwards

There was thunder during the night and in the morning it was “blowing a hooligan”.  During the day there was sleet, hailstones, sun, rain….. and always the wind….. but at least we didn’t have snow!

I decided to head northwards again, past Arnol and Barvas and turned onto a side road to see the Truseil stone, apparently the tallest standing stone in Scotland.  the trussal stoneThe reasons for these standing stones have pretty much got lost in the mists of time. Though local legends have it that it commemorates a local battle, archaeologists believe it to be much older -  around 3 to 4 thousand years old, in fact.  The wind was so strong and the weather so squally that I didn’t even get out of the car to photograph it.  Even winding down the window was a dangerous prospect!

rough seas cunndal Nearby there were views out to sea, and you can see how stormy it looks.  The sign points the way to a monument erected to the memory of 12 local fishermen who were lost along with their two boats in a terrible storm in 1885.  You can read about it here.   It was too stormy to go exploring so rough seas cunndal2 I took the sea photos and headed back to the main road to continue my journey to the northernmost point of the island where  I took a look at Port of Ness and some of the other small settlements in the Ness area.ness harbour2

   The little harbour was very calm and sheltered from the wild sea beyond.ness waves2 

ness waves

 

 

 

These waves were a good 10 feet high as they rolled towards the beach.  Port of Ness is very pretty with its houses much closer together than in most of the other villages I had seen.  I should think it’s because this wasn’t so much a crofting township as a fishing village.  ness houses This type of house with outside stairs reminds me of the likes of Newhaven on the river Forth, where fishing gear was stored downstairs while the family lived above.

A narrow road led from the village to the most northerly point of the Western Isles at the Butt of Lewis, a point reputed to be the windiest place in the country.  I’ll buy that!  butt of lewis2 The wind was so strong it was pretty hard to stand upright, and sea foam was being blown up over the tops of the 80 foot cliffs, as the waves lashed them! It was pretty impressive, but not a day to get out and explore.  I managed one quick photo before hot footing it back to the car.  butt of lewis lighthouse Even getting a photo of the lighthouse meant hanging on to a signpost to stop being blown over.  In fact as I was about to start the car again, I realised my door wasn’t closed properly.  Never thinking, I began to open it a little way, with the intention of banging it shut, but an inch was all it took for the wind to yank the door open and nearly off its hinges, with me still hanging on to the handle!  Half in, half out of the car, if I let go then, I would fall out, and I wasn’t going to let go in case the wind did indeed take the door off!  Left hand holding the steering wheel, right hand hanging onto the door handle I tried to pull the door closed – not easy when you’re lying horizontally in thin air, hanging on to a wobbling steering wheel with one hand!  However, I managed to get the door closed somehow, and sat there in the car realising that I had wrenched my shoulder – only the one I had been having physio on for the few weeks before, due to the muscles not being too strong and not doing the job they are meant to do!  They must have responded in some way to the exercises I had been doing, for me to eventually get the door closed – only now my shoulder felt as bad as ever it had!  I could still drive though so that was fine. (When I got home and saw the physiotherapist she immediately recommended a steroid injection into the muscle before I did any more exercises – so that’s where I am now, waiting to see if the injection is going to work and I can get back to my strengthening exercises!)

butt of lewis oystercatchers So, slightly shaken, I returned slowly to Ness village, stopping to take a photo of some oyster catchers and a plover grazing on some grassland in a more sheltered spot. 

The weather wasn’t getting any better so I gave up plans to do some coastal walking, and made my way instead down the road to Stornoway, the only town on Lewis.   There was a nice looking tea room not far from the car park where I was very lucky to find a space, so I sheltered there for half an hour, before venturing out into the rain again. It seems a much nicer town than than I remember it last time I was there – a good number of years ago now – and I quite enjoyed having a look around. stornoway fishgutterKnowing I’d be back there later in the week I didn’t take many photos that day.  Lewis Castle could wait for brighter skies, but I took this one of a lifesize model of a herring gutter, in Perceval Square.  There’s another similar model at the edge of the carpark which I photographed a few days later.stornoway on a wet day 

There weren’t too many people around – they obviously had more sense – but I enjoyed the quiet streets, stopping to look in shop windows and to admire the larger than life posters made by Lewis school children in honour of the Mod!  stornoway failte poster “Failte!” said one – Welcome! I do like that ladies choir!

latha math carloway school

Another showed what a good day on the island (by Carloway school children) could be like – mod2011 posternote the musical notes coming from the blackhouses at Garenin, and the sheep choir in the truck being pulled by tractor in the direction of the Mod!  Nothing happening up at the broch (top left) though!

This one was a simple statement!  “Mod 2011”  - lots of musical notes and a treble clef.  That about says what it’s all about!

Well it was all going on at that moment, and we would have our turn soon enough.

Talk again soon.

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