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" Outer Hebrides 2019 - 6 - Callinish & Carloway "


Date & start time:    Friday 17th May 2019.     ( NB 141 043)

Location of Start :   Bun Abhainn Eadarra, (Bunavoneader), Tarbet, Isle of Harris, UK.

Stayed at :                Number 4 Harris, self-catering for the week.

Places visited :        A drive to Callinish and Carloway.

Walk details :           A trip north in the car and local walks around some ancient sites of Lewis.

With :                         Ann and our dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                  Fine weather with a slight breeze.

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We set off in the car from Bunavoneader to travel north to see some of the ancient archeological sites of the Hebrides.

We change from "North Harris" to "The island of Lewis" but in fact these are political administrative areas not separate islands.

Still, it's a lovely morning and after only a few minutes the car is already stopped for a photo, one of many from the day.

Looking back as we start off from Bunavoneader.

Loch Marhaig and that new road opposite that we used at the start of the week.

This short side loch opens into Loch Seaforth to the left and to the open sea at East Loch Tarbet, behind the hill to the right.

When the weather varies slightly from day to day, each new viewing adds something to our enjoyment of the area.

Balallan Post Office . . . old paint on the roof yet a new satellite dish on the side.

Modern technology meets tradition at the local village shop.

North onto Lewis and, once we leave the mountains, the scenery changes to more open moorland and straighter roads.

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Ahead, Callinish is famous for its standing stones but a roadside sign points us first to Callinish II,

a smaller set of stones situated a mile outside the village . . . intrigued we stop to explore.

On a small promontory on the inner depths of Loch Roag stands what remains of an old Bronze Age stone circle.

The stone circle would be nearly 5000 years old, but the furrows in the ground are most likely to be due to more modern agriculture.

- - - o o o - - -


The two fine stones on the left presumably formed a northern entrance.


Despite these stones being fewer in number

compared to the main Callinish circle, we were not alone on our visit.

Others had the same desire for exploration as we have today.


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The open Lewis landscape allows us to look across the mile or so to the houses in the middle distance,

above which the main Callinish Stones are to be found.

They stand on the skyline and can be see for miles around . . . but you may like a little help . . .

From the same spot . . . a close up of the distant attraction.

- - - o o o - - -

We drive the short distance around and park at the relatively new Visitor Centre, where a tourist path rises up to the ancient site.

Looking down from the high ground near the stones.

The curved building below is the cafe and information centre.

A wheelchair friendly path climbs gently to the top of the slope and gives us our first close up view of the Standing Stones.

The Callanish Stones consist of a stone circle of thirteen stones with a monolith near the middle. Five rows of standing stones connect to this circle.

Two of the long rows of stones running almost parallel to each other to the north-northeast and form a kind of avenue.

The stones are all of the same rock type, namely the local Lewisian gneiss. Within the stone circle is a chambered tomb.  

Information courtesy of Wikipedia

The central group of stones, shaped like a ship's rudder, stands about fifteen feet tall and is perfectly aligned north / south.

The stones predate England’s famous Stonehenge monument and were an important place for ritual activity for at least 2,000 years. 

(Historic Scotland)

In between the inner stones are the remains of a chambered tomb.
The same central circle, viewed from the other side.

Two rows of standing stones project roughly north from the central group

forming a sort of entrance avenue, concentrating the mind on the central circle ahead.

Three other lines of stones, pointing roughly the south, west and east create the design not unlike a slightly out of line crucifix.

Casting our mind back a mere thirty one years, this was our last visit to this site. 

Our caravan was parked on the road next to the stones but the current car park is now down by the visitor centre.

Compare the area today . . . a few things have changed, the most obvious of which

is a rather in-your-face new development of a large house on the left, adding nothing to the cultural appreciation of the area !!

[ Planning regulations must be more relaxed than here in Cumbria.]

The area of the Stones has been modified over the millennia, both by nature and man.

The signboard by the gate gave us some of the background to those changes.

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After a rather nice soup at the centre we headed up the road, north towards Carloway.

There are a surprising number of houses along this north west coast of the island

considering the sparse amount of development we passed to reach here.

We arrive at the famous historic relic of  Dun Carloway

probably the best preserved example of an ancient broch, a design only found in north and west Scotland.

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Brochs like this were built around 2000 years ago

and were constructed as defensive residences for important

tribal leaders or the rich and powerful of society.

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A totally arbitrary notice at the entrance stops us visiting

the attraction together. There's no sheep about and no great throng of people.

It is too warm to leave the dogs in the car so Ann and I have to visit separately.

[ Pictures are therefore a combination of our two separate visits. ]


- - - o o o - - -

It is sited on the top of a prominent little hill a short distance from the sea.

Parts of the old broch walls still reach to 9 metres tall.  Dun Carloway was probably built in the 1st century AD.

It was constructed with two concentric walls of natural stone with a stairway or gallery within, which would have given access to the upper floors. 

A large a part of the main wall is missing, probably recycled into the black houses nearby.

In 1882, to prevent further decay, Dun Carloway became one of the first officially protected ancient monuments in Scotland.

The internal layout would include enough accommodation to house a large family groups and their animals, all within the structure.

It is thought it was actively used for over a thousand years and was even substantial enough

to be used as a hideaway in the middle ages (the 1500's),  during which time it suffered from attack and fire damage caused by inter-clan fighting.

The low entrance way would be a defensive feature.
Remember to duck your head as you come in !

A second low entrance can be seen across the floor . . .
. . . leading to stairways and storage recesses within the walls.

The first floor, supported by the protruding stones 6ft up, would allow the keeping of animals in the low room below.

The tall structure would have been finished off with a vaulted wooden roof for protection from the weather.

A commanding view of the area from the top of the remaining stairway.

Another ancient picture (circa 1988) with our car and caravan and showing the old black houses.

The site now has a new car park and small information centre alongside the road.

After two separate "dog-less" visits, we drive back over to the main road and head home.

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Spot the wildlife ?

A sideways glance and a convenient place to pull over allowed us to capture this first image.

Their unhurried nature allowed me time to change the lens for a second and third . . .

Red Deer can be found in both woodland and open terrain such as moorland and hillsides such as this.

These two must be fairly mature animals by the look of their coats and colouring.

Red deer stags shed and re-grow their antlers every year. The deer were probably a female with her mature young.

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Back south on the road to Tarbet,

and the waters of Loch Seaforth reflect the

blue skies and the improving afternoon weather.



The long a fiord-like sea loch

just cried out  for a vertical photo

to emphasise the straight passage way

towards the distant Hebridean Minch.



- - - o o o - - -

In panorama the arms of the fiord become apparent.

The hillside to the left is in fact Eilean Shiophort, a 217m island in the centre of the loch.

Back to an afternoon view of Bunavoneader and West Loch Tarbet, with Taransay in the distance.

Nearly home, passing the new eco home being built alongside the road to our cottage.

The Whaling Station chimney once again.

Number 4 Harris, our cottage for the week, is the one with the white garage door on the right.

In the late evening the moon rises above Anne and Andrew's cottage just as the light starts to fade.

The end of an interesting week . . . tomorrow we move south to explore the delights of the Uists.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix Tz60 Compact, or my Panasonic Gx8 mid-range System Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a local map and tourist leaflets to explore the area.

Go to Top . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - Outer Hebrides 2019 - 5 - Eilean Glas

A previous time in the area - nothing specific on file but a few old photos have been incorporated in the above text.

Next walkOuter Hebrides 2019 - 7 - Onward to the Uists