To the Ends of the World: The Isle of Lewis and Harris

Ceapabhal, Isle of Harris.

Beneath the light of candle, I am sitting with my hands on my knees, staring in front of me. And I keep turning over in my mind the thought that I am at the end of the earth, in a place which you do not know and which your whole lives through you will never visit.

~ Shusaku Endo, ‘Silence’

There’s nothing quite like visiting a remote, windswept place to stir the soul or calm an anxious one. The sheer isolation of these places give them a timeless quality. And if they have an aura of mystique, like the feeling that they could have been once the abode of dragons and hobbits, so much the better.

The Isle of Lewis and Harris is such a place. Located in the Outer Hebrides off northwest Scotland, Lewis and Harris covers an area of  841 square miles (2,178 square km), making it the largest island in Scotland. The northern two-thirds is called the Isle of Lewis, and the southern third, the Isle of Harris although they are commonly frequently to as though they were island islands. Lewis is comparatively flat. The highest peak (Ben More) only reaches 571 m or 1,874 feet. It is home to the Calanais Standing Stones, an extraordinary cross-shaped setting of stones erected 5,000 years ago that predate England’s famous Stonehenge monument. The precise purpose of Calanais is unknown although it is commonly believed to have been used for ritual or observatory activities for at least 2,000 years. Meanwhile, Harris in the south boasts some of the best beaches in Scotland, and is as sparsely inhabited as its northern neighbour.

Huisinis, Isle of Harris
Sunset over the Uig hills, Isle of Lewis
Uig Hills on the western side of the Isle of Lewis
Highland cow, Isle of Lewis
Stag in velvet, Isle of Lewis
Crimson sunset, Isle of Lewis
Scottish black-face sheep
Calanais standing stones, Isle of Lewis
Light in the east, Isle of Lewis
Tràigh na Beirigh, Isle of Lewis
A sheiling (hut) on Pentland Road, Isle of Lewis
The village of Timsgearraidh, Isle of Lewis
An abstract image taken along the Golden Road, Isle of Harris, a stunning part of the island with a strange moon-like rocky landscape that’s covered lots of small lochs and crashing sea waves.

All photos by John Blair except the last which is taken by Joseph Kirkman.

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