Greg told us that if we wanted, we could take a hike up to Lews Castle and explore its grounds. We decided this was the best option and once we cleaned up, we were on our way.
It was a beautiful walk up to the castle! We had to go through a forest of trees that seemed very mystical, a usual occurrence in Scotland!
Lews Castle was built in the years 1844-51 as a country house for Sir James Matheson. It is a Victorian style castle, as you can see below.
“In 1918, the Lewis estate including the castle was bought by industrialist Lord Leverhulme from the Matheson family. He gave the castle to the people of Stornoway parish in 1923.” – Wikipedia
The Lews Castle website tells us that the early history of the grounds date back to 1680 when Seaforth Lodge was built as a summer home for Lord Seaforth.
The castle has an extensive history having been passed down through the decades. It went from being held by the Stornoway Trust as a public building, to a hospital in World War II, to being a college to being completely vacated and unused by 2002.
By 2012, funding had been secured to restore the castle, with work commencing in 2013. Whilst we were in Stornoway in 2015, the building was unfortunately still closed for restoration, so we did not have the chance to take a peek inside. Lews Castle, along with the new museum and archive, reopened in July 2016 to visitors.
The castle grounds are quite extensive – at around 10 acres. We were literally exploring all the hidden pathways and trails while coming across beautiful views and fascinating statues! You would come to a clearing and see a view like this – looking out over the waters.
While exploring, we also came across a wonderful memorial built in honour of James Matheson by his wife. The poppies on the pillars allude to his success and profits from the opium industry. It is beautifully sculpted, although missing certain parts due to age.
As we walked down and towards the harbour, we noticed the beautiful views of Stornoway that we had also seen from above.
Stornoway was originally founded by the Vikings in the early 9th century!
“This town, and what eventually became its present-day version, grew up around a sheltered natural harbour well placed at a central point on the island, for the convenience of people from all over the island.” – Wikipedia
“At some point in the mid 1500s, the already ancient MacLeod castle in Stornoway ‘fell victim to the cannons of the Duke of Argyle’.”
It was as early as the 1600’s that Stornoway became a centre for trade because of its port location.
Today, the harbour still hosts a fishing fleet, although obviously not as large as in the past!
Our walk along the harbour and later around the city was lovely! We literally sat by the harbour and soaked in the September Scottish sunshine, whilst looking out at the beautiful water.
Stornoway is a wonderful little town full of winding streets and quaint stores. We were lucky that we got an afternoon to actually explore and enjoy it.
We definitely recommend staying in Stornoway if you are planning to travel around the Isle of Lewis. It is central and you are surrounded by amenities!
After we finished our walk, we headed back to our hostel for dinner. We had a pizza night with our entire group! What a lovely evening we had chatting with our group mates and getting to know each other. There also may or may not have been some ruthless card games with beverages on the line! All in all, it was a great way to cap off a wonderful Day 2!
What’s in store for Day 3? We’re excited just writing about it! Are you ready to be amazed by the faerie pools?! And get ready to meet some new and fashionably hairy friends! Brace yourselves for our next post!
From Vancouver with Love,
Ioana and Natalie
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