Isle of Lewis: Stornoway

Stornoway Town Hall
After visiting the three sites, Callanish Standing Stones, Dun Carloway Broch, and Gearrannan Blackhouse Village on Isle of Lewis, we got off the bus in Stornoway. With about two hours to wait for the ferry, we had time to shop and eat. I bought some things, like scarves, at a street fair. (I love scarves.) It was around five pm and since we didn't know anything about Stornoway we were unsure where the good restaurants were. Actually, we had a hard time finding any restaurants at that late hour, but finally found one in a hotel. The food was delicious.

Martin's Memorial Church
 Stornoway, on Isle of Lewis, is the largest town in the Western Isles of Scotland with a population of around 9000. Stornoway is the 3rd largest town in the Scottish Highlands, Inverness and Fort William being first and second.

County Hotel
 Stornoway has been an important port for many years, and was likely recognized from earliest times as having a safe harbor because of the natural landscape. Two "arms" of land jut out on either side making the waters much calmer than in the minch, the stretch of water between the islands and the mainland.

Lews Castle
Lews Castle was built between 1847 and 1852 by James Matheson who had bought Lewis in 1844. The castle was built on the site of the former Mackenzie's Seaforth Lodge (The Seaforth Lodge is said to have hosted the planners of the 1719 Jacobite Uprising.) Lews Castle was luxuriously furnished with crystal chandeliers, carved panels and tapestries. Lord Leverhulme, founder of Lever Brothers soap company, bought Lewis in 1917. In 1923, he gifted the vast estate of the Isle of Lewis to the citizens of Stornoway. It is administered by the Stornoway Trust on behalf of the townspeople.

No one knows when Stornoway was settled, but it was long before the Vikings started raiding in the ninth century. Chambered cairns nearby suggest the Stornoway area was settled before the Iron Age. In addition to the safe, natural harbor, other features no doubt valued by early inhabitants include fertile soils, shallow waters of Broad Bay for fish spawning, freshwater rivers that drew in salmon and sea-trout and safe anchorage.

Herring Girl Statue

 Stornoway is home to the Western Isles Council and other educational, sporting and media establishments. Education is important on Lewis, and our tour guide pointed out many of the newly build schools.

Stornoway Harbour

Carved Viking outside the ferry terminal
 When the Vikings rowed their longships into the bay they named the place 'Steering Bay' in the Norse tongue. And this name eventually became Stornoway. It is not known whether the Vikings killed all the native residents they found in the Stornoway area or whether they intermarried with them, or maybe a little of both. The Norse ruled Lewis for a time, until 1266 when the Treaty of Perth came into effect and the Norse were ordered to leave. All of Norway's possessions on the western seaboard were ceded to King Alexander III of Scotland. But Norse influence remains, including place names and clan names such as MacLeod, Morrison, Nicholson, and MacAulay.

The ferry terminal
 After we ate, we walked toward the ferry terminal early because we didn't want to miss the ferry, the last one for that day. We watched the ferry coming into port, and noticed several police officers heading through the terminal waiting area along with a black and white sheepdog, a Border Collie. An officer put the dog to work, sniffing each of the passengers' bags. But apparently nothing was found and no one was arrested.

Boats in Stornoway Harbour

Lewis was under the leadership of the Lord of the Isles from 1354 to 1493. By the end of the 14th century, Lewis was held by one branch of the Clan MacLeod, with Harris (which connects to Lewis) being controlled from Skye by another branch of Clan MacLeod.

You can see the Stornoway War Memorial on the hill above the town.
  In the 15th century the MacLeod clan possessed the Castle of Stornoway. It was said to resemble Kismul Castle. It was a symbol of power and status for this ruling clan. It was also a target of attacks from the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh who wanted to curb the independence of the unruly Clan MacLeod. The castle was attacked in 1506 and 1554 but survived both sieges. But it could not survive Cromwell's Commonwealth who caused the structure to be 'broken down.' Only ruins remained until 1882 when the site was demolished and overtaken by improvements to the harbor. Only a plaque remains as evidence that a castle once stood on the town's foreshore.

Leaving Isle of Lewis
On board the ferry, we found a warm comfortable place to sit inside, but I did venture outside in the icy wind a few times for some pics. Here's one of them as the sun was setting.

Thanks so much for visiting Stornoway with me! :)

Excerpt from My Daring Highlander:

Seona's horse bolted during a gale storm in the Highlands. Keegan chased after her and pulled her off the terrified horse.

He drew up beside the rocks that appeared stable enough and helped Seona slide to her feet, before he dismounted. He guided her toward the stones which blocked much of the fearsome west wind that pounded them and led Curry behind him. Keegan glanced upward, determining the stone was solid and that nothing would fall on their heads.
Immediately they were out of the wind and rain. He turned back to watch the gale rage across the moor behind them, the grasses, bushes and plants twisting and almost lying flat at times.
“There goes your horse,” he said, pointing. Seona’s mare was a distant black spot, running along the burn. The animal likely wouldn’t calm down until the gale had passed. “We’ll recapture her later.”
Following his gaze, Seona nodded.
“This is a decent shelter.” He was glad to get her out of the wind and rain.
“Aye,” she said, her breathing still elevated. Arms wrapped around herself, she shivered and her teeth chattered, though she tried to hide it.
“Come. I’ll warm you.” He took her into his arms, but he knew it wasn’t only the temperature of the chill wind that made her shiver. ’Twas also the waning of the extreme fear she must have felt taking a wild ride on that daft horse, tearing across the countryside. “’Tis all right, lass,” he murmured in her ear. “You’re safe now.”
Her body still trembled, but she nodded. He would do anything to keep her safe. Did she not know that?
His face against her cool damp hair, Keegan closed his eyes and drew in her sweet scent. She felt perfect against him, but he fought down his need to pull her even closer, to feel her body completely aligned with his.
Finally, her shivers diminished and her breathing returned to normal. Reluctantly, he removed his arms from around her and backed up a step. “Better?”
“Aye. I thank you for helping me. I don’t know what got into Juliana.”
“Juliana?” he asked.
“My mare.”
“’Tis a fancy name for a mare,” he said, unable to hide his amusement. But his main reason for smiling… he was thrilled she had not been injured.
She grinned, her dark blue eyes gleaming with happiness. Saints! He had never seen her look more beautiful.
“Did you know your eyes are the color of bluebells?” he asked.
She glanced away, but her smile widened and her cheeks turned an adorable pink, replacing the earlier paleness. She bit her lip, making him wish he could do the same.
Finally, her eyes met his again. He had the urge to tell her how incredibly beautiful she was, but he feared he might overdo it.
“You are mad to say such things,” she said. He barely heard her above the roar of the wind overhead.
He held up his hands in surrender. “I speak the truth.”
Seona felt her face burning despite the icy wind, but she forced herself to meet Keegan’s gaze. There was so much she wished to tell him, but fear held her back. He was perfect… or he would be perfect for her, at least. Simply gazing into his enchanting sky-blue eyes made her feel happy. And his grin was naught but charm and seduction. Most impressive of all, he was a strong, heroic man who didn’t fear anything.
“You are…” What should she say?
He moved his head closer to hear her better, and turned slightly so one of his ears was near her mouth.
“You are very brave and heroic. You saved my life,” she said, finding it easier to talk to him when he wasn’t looking directly into her eyes. “Twice.”
He pulled back a few inches, his lips twisting into a lopsided grin. “I thank you, m’lady,” he said. “I could never allow you to be injured.” He shook his head. “Over the past few months, I have wanted to talk to you or… dance with you but… you ken your aunt doesn’t like me.”
“Nonsense,” she said to be polite. Truth was Aunt Patience didn’t want her to go near him because she deemed him unacceptable as husband material for Seona.
“Come now, Lady Seona, you ken I speak the truth,” he said in a light tone. “Her glares are like sharp blades.”
She nodded. “My aunt is much like a guard dog.”
“Well, she has a right to be. You’re a beautiful lady and I’m…” He shrugged. “Just a guard.”
She frowned. “You are much more than that.”
’Twas obvious he was trying to maintain his pleasant expression, but a hint of sadness crept into his blue eyes that near broke her heart.
He shook his head. “Nay, I fear when it comes to you, Lady Seona, I’m naught but a knave and a rogue. I’ve hardly been able to concentrate today because of memories of that amazing kiss.” After shoving his fingers through his windblown, damp mane, he backed away and stared out at the blowing rain. “I must behave myself,” he muttered, as if to himself, but she heard it despite the roaring wind.
She could not take her eyes off him and the stunning passion in his gaze. He was right… completely and unequivocally right. He should never touch her again. She should’ve never allowed him to kiss her the night before, but she could not have stopped him any more than she could’ve stopped breathing. Speaking of which, her own breaths were now short and shallow. Her chest ached with the need to be closer to him. To touch him.
His gaze shifted to her. “Hell. Seona, don’t look at me like that.”
She pressed her eyes closed, the moisture gathering there burning. Why did she feel the urge to cry? ’Twas insanity. She was not normally a very emotional person. She should face facts now—she could never have Keegan. Even though he had owned her heart for months.
His warm, rough fingers touched her face. Her eyes popped open and she sucked in a sharp, surprised breath.

 My Daring Highlander copyright 2013 Vonda Sinclair


Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

What a lovely town. Thank you so much for visiting Scotland for us!!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks Ella! I'm glad you liked it!

Vanessa Holland said...

It is a very lovely town. The colors of the sunset are amazingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks for checking it out, Vanessa! I loved Stornoway.

Lana Williams said...

Love, love the pics! So fun to see! Thank you for sharing, Vonda!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thank you, Lana!! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Lyn Horner said...

I too love your pictures and history of Stornoway. Thank you for sharing!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Lyn, thanks!! I'm glad you liked it. I enjoy taking pics and sharing them.

Unknown said...

You did a lovely presentation on the area, Vonda. I could move into Lews castle right away if the bathrooms have been renovated! Looks like you had a wonderful trip... what one has to do in the line of research! Thanks for sharing.

Amy Jarecki said...

Gorgeous pictures. I'm so going to visit Lewis next time! Enjoyed your excerpt :-)

Vonda Sinclair said...

Gemma, thanks so much! Yes, Lews would be a beautiful place to live. I think they are working on renovations. I love research that takes me to Scotland! :)

Amy, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos and excerpt. You will love Lewis!