The Outer Hebrides - The Rugged Western Isles
The Outer Hebrides stretch in a chain 130 miles long, and act as a break against Atlantic storms heading for the Inner Hebrides and the Western Highlands. The rugged landscape of moorlands, mountains, deep sea lochs, splashing rivers and huge skies is as dramatic as any on the mainland. Against this background lies a wealth of prehistoric standing stones, graves and brochs.
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Traditional tigh dubh, or black house on Lewis with 6ft thick walls and thatched roof tied down with rope and weighted with stones, now houses folk museum. Crofters' furniture includes straw-filled box beds.
Waymarked paths lead through Hebridean marsh, machair and along North Uist shoreline, offering chance to see birds such as corncrakes, red-necked phalaropes, oystercatchers and mute swans that visit and nest here.
Castle, dating from 1120 and restored in 1930s, home to the piratic MacNeils of Barra. A thou-sand species of wild flower have been identified on island.
Reuval Hill, 408ft high, gives views of whole of Benbecula, North and South Uist and neigh-bouring islands. On southern slope of hill is cave where Bonnie Prince Charlie waited for Flora MacDonald to bring suitable clothing for him to travel disguised as her maid to Skye. Good beaches at Culls though sea is cold.
Standing stones erected on Lewis about 4000 years ago. A 270ft avenue of 19 stones leads off from circle of 13 stones, with other avenues heading east, west and south. Inside the circle is a small chambered tomb. Reasons for its construction not known.
Ruined Church of St Barr and restored Chapel of St Mary once formed part of Barra's medieval monastery. Carved stone in graveyard has Celtic cross on one side and Norse runes on other.
Dun Carloway Broch
Iron Age stone fort, built on Lewis 1700 years ago, still has 30ft high walls standing. Courtyard, 25ft across, is surrounded by double walls, between which are chambers, galleries and stairs.
Island of 'love lilt' and setting of novel Whisky Galore, which was based on 1941 event when SS Politician foundered off coast with 243, 000 bottles of whisky. Pink sea convolvulus flowers supposed to have been planted by Bonnie Prince Charlie when he landed on island on way to Scotland.
Bronze Age stone circle on Lewis comprising stone slab surrounded by ring of boulders, in turn surrounded by ring of upright stone slabs; tallest is 9ft.
From pier opposite Scarp, walk leads north-east over Harris hills to beach. Inland lies Loch na Cleavag. Hushinish road passes near 19th-century Amhuinnsuidhe Castle and salmon leap at Loch Beag.
Ancient forts, ruins and standing stones are everywhere on island. Stone group 3 miles north-west of Lochmaddy is called Na Fir Breighe, 'The False Men', said to be either wife deserters turned to stone or gravestones of spies buried alive.
St Clement's Church, built on Harris 1500 and restored in 18th and 19th centuries, finest example of church architecture in Hebrides. Contains monuments to members of Macleod family.
Harris sand dunes sheltering hamlet are populated by rabbits and sea birds. Carpets of bright flowers emerge in early summer.
Shawbost Museum, housed in disused Lewis church, illustrates old methods of fishing, croft farming and weaving. Restored 19th-century water mill.
Nature reserve at Loch Druidibeg is breeding ground of greylag goose. Statue of Madonna and Child, 3Oft high, carved by Hew Lorimer in 1957. Birthplace of Flora Macdonald now just a tumble of stones near Mingary.
Lews Castle, built 1844, now a technical college surrounded by largest wooded park in Hebrides. Ruin of 14th-century Ui Chapel at Point peninsula. Gaelic culture celebrated at An Lanntair Gallery.
Harris countryside offers opportunities for walking. Otters, red deer, golden eagles and swans in area. Scenic route runs eastwards from village to Kyles Scalpay. Cairns on road to Luskentyre mark prehistoric funeral routes.
Ruins of medieval college and monastery on North Uist founded in early 13th century. Theologian Duns Scotus studied there. Beside it is Teampull Clan A'Phiocair, chapel of the MacVicars.
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