Hosted Cruise – Cunard Queen Victoria – 12 Nights
June 7 – 19, 2020
Port of Call – Stornoway, Scotland – June 12
Located in the Western Isles of Scotland is a fascinating town called Stornoway. With a history dating back many centuries, a beautiful setting and much to please the eye, Stornoway of Lewis is well worth a visit.
Stornoway is said to have begun as a Viking settlement that progressively grew in a lovely natural harbor. The town’s name is believed to come from the word ‘Stjornavgr’, which means “Steering Bay” in Norse. Sometime in the 1100s a castle was built proudly overlooking the town by the MacNicol family. Stornoway Castle was annexed by Leod, predecessor to the MacLeods of Lewis. The Middle Ages saw much fighting amongst Scottish clans and the MacLeod family was much despised by the government in Edinburgh. King James VI attempted to remove their influence in 1597, but did not succeed. In the 1600s the castle of Stornoway was crushed by forces led by Oliver Cromwell. The town came under control of the MacKenzies.
As time progressed, Stornoway town saw the rising of buildings, a port and other developments. In 1844 the area of Lewis, including Stornoway was bought by Sir James Matheson. Matheson was responsible for the construction of Lewis Castle. Then in 1918, Lewis was sold to Lord Leverhume.
Today, Stornoway is a popular tourist destination. A busy little town with a bustling harbor, visitors to Stornoway will have a delightful adventure. The town is a doorway to the island of Lewis and its many attractions dating far back in history. Stornoway itself offers sightseers plenty to view including the Stornoway Town Hall, Lewis Castle, the arts center and Lewis Loom Center. Many streets have been made available only for use by pedestrians. Around the town center, visitors will discover pleasant stores including those which sell Harris Tweed.
Located on the castle grounds you will find Stornoway Golf Club. Interestingly, this is the only golf course in the Outer Hebrides with 18 holes.
The Narrows: Start in the centre of town and stroll these pedestrian streets. There are plenty of shops to browse here, as well as pubs, butchers, the local art gallery, and the Stornoway Town Hall. On a sunny day you could be mistaken for thinking you were somewhere more tropical, thanks to the brightly painted facades of the buildings!
Lews Castle: The Castle started life in the 1680s as Seaforth Lodge; it wasn’t until Sir James Matheson bought the land in 1840 that construction began on the building that we know today, using the fortune Matheson had amassed through his role in the opium trade. (In short, the Castle was basically built with drug money from China – how’s that for a bit of scandalous local history?)
Lord Leverhulme bought the island in 1918, modernizing the Castle further, before the building and the land surrounding it came into public ownership in the Twenties. Since then it’s been a WW II naval hospital, student accommodation, and even lain derelict. After extensive renovations, the Castle reopened this year, providing a home for the local museum, a café, shop, and the latest addition to the luxury accommodation line-up of Natural Retreats: it’s now a must-see on any visit to Stornoway.
Castle Grounds: Outside the castle, you’ll find sprawling grounds that are ideal for taking a stroll. You’ll find many people taking their dogs on woodland walks around the vast 270 hectares of trails and pathways that follow the River Creed as it winds its way down towards the mouth of the harbour. Listen for the sound of herons and if lucky, you will also spot seals in the waters.
Museum Nan Eilean: A modern extension built to the back of Lews Castle holds the Islands museum which, is funded by Western Isles Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) among others. The museum offers an interactive insight into the culture, history and diversity of life for those living on the Islands, from prehistory to present day. The museum also features artifacts from history, some of the infamous Lewis chessmen, to more the current Nike and Vivienne Westwood tweed collaborations.
Ready to dive in and join this amazing sailing through the British Isles? Reach out to the team at UNIGLOBE Carefree Travel Group in Saskatoon at 306-242-TRIP today!