Wednesday 8th September
Trip to Callanish
When we wake, we find that the midges are out in full force – amplified by the warm, damp conditions. We get ready quickly and decide to have breakfast back on the white sandy beach – we cannot resist its pull for a return visit! Plus, we have to get away from these midges!
On the beach, we are not entirely alone as a few walkers are taking their dogs for early morning exercise. The bay seems even better, with one continuous curving wave flowing in at timed intervals. It seems to be free from plastic and debris too as we only find one plastic bottle.
After a morning of exploration, we return to the campsite for a late lunch and then search the map for somewhere else to visit.
In addition to our old-school paper map, we purchased the Ordnance Survey app, which is priced at £4.99 per month. Would thoroughly recommend it as it provides a series of scaled maps, covering the whole of the UK (except Northern Ireland). Plus, it shows your exact location with a red arrow.
From the app, we discover there are a series of ancient stone circles nearby and drive south to Callanish. Finding its exact spot off the map, we walk over to the smallest group, which contains 5 standing stones. Another group on higher ground contains 12 stones. From both locations, you can also observe in the distance the main body of stones.
You may think a stone is just a stone, but these have been standing for a jaw dropping 5,000 years – predating Stonehenge – and were a focus for ritual activity in the Bronze Age. The larger of the three sites is truly remarkable. It’s formed in the shape of a Celtic cross with an inner circle. Within this is a central spot, leading up from the northern end, is a long avenue of stones and as a light mist descends, the whole site becomes eerily alive.
Whatever these ancient people’s beliefs were, you cannot help but be inspired by how neat and precise the main structure is. You can marvel at how they have put it together and be amazed that such stones are still standing today. It begs the question, how much of today’s surroundings will still be here in a similar time frame?
We head back to the campsite, but on the way notice a brown road sign, pointing to Blackhouse Village and decide to investigate. The long, narrow village buildings date back to the 1850s and are examples of traditional houses used by Harris Tweed weavers. Built on a sloping hill, the houses would have a weaver’s workshop at one end, then a small pantry area before a living room with a large double bed and a smaller bedroom attached for the children. As you walk through, the floors are not level as the slope of the hill corresponds with the slope of the floor. There are very few windows and no upstairs rooms either.
By the 1950s, there were only a few ageing residents who were unable to carry out the essential maintenance and by 1974, these residents were rehoused in Council houses nearby. The abandoned blackhouses began to deteriorate quickly but their importance was recognised, leading to the formation of a trust in 1989 to restore nine of the buildings.
By now it’s 5.30pm and we head off for the campsite. But when we arrive, we’re greeted by another barrage of midges.