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About Stornoway

Stornoway is the main town on the Isle of Lewis, in Scotland's Outer Hebrides - an area renowned for its unspoilt natural beauty and stunning scenery of mountains, moorland and golden beaches. The history of Lewis dates back thousands of years and around the island lie myriad ancient stone circles and standing stones, including the famous Carloway broch - a round Iron Age fortification.

Located on the east coast, Stornoway is a phonetic translation of 'Steering Bay' - a name given by Vikings first visiting this natural sheltered harbour. This attractive, bustling town was built on traditional trades including fishing, Harris Tweed and farming, and today you can enjoy fascinating insights into these industries in the local museum and the Lewis Loom Centre.

Just west of the town lies the neo gothic Lews Castle. Built between 1847-57 as a country house for Sir James Matheson - who purchased the island a few years previously - it was funded by his Chinese Opium fortune.

 

Shore excursions in Stornoway

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Bostadh Iron Age Settlement

Activity medium

Duration: 3 hours

Enjoy a beautiful, remote area of North Lewis with superb views and a unique chance to visit a reconstructed old Iron Age House.

Travel to the Island of Great Bernera, which is joined to the main island by a narrow bridge. It is a rocky island, dotted with lochans, fringed by a few small lobster-fishing settlements, owned by the Queen’s former herald.

Arriving near the deserted village of Bostadh, you will come upon an entire Iron Age settlement perched above a precious little bay of golden sand. The settlement was only discovered here in the early 90’s when gale-force winds revealed it. One of the ancient dwellings has now been completely restored: the Iron Age House. Enjoy a visit inside where you can absorb the warm gloom and sharp smell from the real peat fire, whilst a local guide describes the way of life of the ancient folk who lived here. Afterwards, there will be a chance to explore the small graveyard nearby and go for a stroll on the wide beach of fine white sand with its gorgeous views out to the turquoise-blue Atlantic.

On your return journey, you will be able to admire the beautiful scenery and views of Carloway Broch to the north.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour involves walking on grass pathways and sand. There will be approximately 1 hour spent at the settlement. At Bostadh, the tour will be split into smaller groups to allow entrance inside the house.

Breathtaking Harris

Activity low

Duration: 4¾ hours

Enjoy the beauty and diversity of Harris, with its rugged countryside, lush mountain passes, barren moorland and sandy beaches.

This panoramic tour takes you to picturesque Harris, famous for its Harris Tweed, a hand-woven cloth made from pure new Scottish wool, dyed using indigenous plants.

Admire the diverse scenery as you pass the fjord-like sea lochs of Loch Erisort and Loch Seaforth, before travelling through a mountain pass with excellent views of the rugged countryside and the majestic Clisham, which at 2,625 feet is the highest mountain in the Outer Isles. Powerful forces of ice and sea in the distant past have carved and polished an impressive landscape of stark sea-cliffs, sweeping beaches and heather uplands. The rocks discovered here are said to be the oldest in the world.

Watch as the old, pre-First World War whaling station of Banamhuinneader and the vivid lunar landscape of rocks dotted with tiny lochans pass by, before stopping for some free time in the quaint fishing village of Tarbert, which overlooks Loch Tarbert.

Leaving Tarbert, you’ll travel the vast expanse of Luskentyre Bay, heading for Horgabost Beach. Enjoy free time here to admire the bleached white sand that enticingly fills the entire bay, washed by turquoise sea and backed by steep dunes. All this is set against the backdrop of the mountains to the north and the beautiful, uninhabited island of Taransay, where the BBC Television series Castaway 2000 was recorded.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. There will be 45 minutes of free time in Tarbert and 30 minutes at Horgabost Beach. Any walking is at the passengers’ own discretion.Passengers must be able to negotiate steps on to and off the coach.

Hebridean RIB Adventure

Activity medium

Duration: 4 hours

An exciting and unique way to experience the natural beauty of the coastline of the Hebrides.

Leaving Stornoway, a scenic transfer across the Isle of Lewis will take you to Uig, located on the island’s rugged Atlantic coast. Here, you’ll step aboard a RIB and take an exhilarating ride along the coastline of the Hebrides.

Heading out of Loch Roag, you’ll pass the village of Reef and into Little Loch Roag, where you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an Otter or Sea Eagle. You’ll continue towards the islands of Siaram and Pabbay Mor, slowing down to view the sea caves. Around the northern end of Pabbay you’ll see the natural arch at Geodha na Sgarbh and enter the breathtaking Pabbay Lagoon, surrounded by white beaches and turquoise waters.

Throughout the journey, keep an eye out for wildlife such seals, basking sharks, dolphins and a variety of seabirds. On return to Miavaig harbour, a dram of whisky and a hot drink will await you.

After your RIB experience, sit back and relax as you take the return drive to Stornoway.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and rigid inflatable boat.The transfer to Uig is around 1 hour and there will be no commentary, however a local guide will accompany the group. The RIB is not suitable for those with injuries or conditions, which may be affected by the bumpy ride. This tour carries a weight restriction of 20 stone. Pregnant women and children under the age of 5 cannot participate. You will be provided with a life jacket and wet weather gear, however it is recommended to also wear warm clothing. Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed. There is no storage for bags on the RIB. The route taken by the boat will be dependent on local weather conditions.

Lewis and Arnol Blackhouse

Activity low

Duration: 3¼ hours

Enjoy the stunning, unspoilt scenery of the Isle of Lewis before visiting some of the most important prehistoric sites in Scotland.

The Isle of Lewis is the heartland of Gaelic culture with long-standing traditions and relics, where people’s lives are still dominated by traditional pursuits like crofting, fishing and weaving.

Travel towards the striking west coast and the village of Callanish, site of the dramatic prehistoric ruins of the Callanish Standing Stones, rated as the most important in Britain after Stonehenge. A guided tour will be given of the stones which date from 2900-2600 BC and are laid out in the form of a cross with a circle in the centre. They were aligned with the moon and the stars to provide the seasonal cycle on which the early Neolithic farmers were so dependent.

Afterwards, travel northwards to Arnol, with its remains of abandoned blackhouses. These were built as a combined byre, barn and home in the tradition of ancient "long-houses", where the poor lived together with their animals. Visit the Blackhouse Museum, which is a restored blackhouse. Step back in time and imagine what it would have been like to live within its thick walls and thatched roof, with its homely furnishings and burning peat fire.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. This tour contains some uneven paths, low entrances and grass terrain. Any walking is at the passengers’ own discretion. Passengers must be able to negotiate steps on to and off the coach.

Lewis and Blackhouse Village

Activity medium

Duration: 3¾ hours

Capture the unspoilt scenery of the Isle of Lewis, and discover the coastal settlement of Gearrannan Blackhouse Village.

The Isle of Lewis retains its traditional Gaelic culture and offers a striking scenic coastline.

Travel towards the village of Callanish, site of the dramatic prehistoric Standing Stones that date from 1500 BC. The stone ruins are rated as the most important in Britain after Stonehenge. During a guided tour, learn the importance of the formation of the stones and the connection with the moon and the stars.

You can continue to admire the surrounding scenery as you head along the Atlantic coastal road, before arriving at the beautifully remote coastal settlement of Gearrannan Blackhouse Village. The restored village of typical blackhouses on the edge of the ocean will take you on a journey back in time. A local guide will provide an insight into the history of the village and the island and you can also enjoy a weaving demonstration. There will also be an opportunity to discover more in the resource centre and to take a stroll along the pathways through the village.

From here the tour return drive will head back inland, crossing eerie open moorlands before reaching Stornoway.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour involves around 1½ hours of walking over some rough and uneven ground including steps. Flat, comfortable shoes recommended.

 

A selection of cruises to Stornoway

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