Leaving Ullapool behind us, we began the 2.5 hour sailing over to the Western Isles, AKA the Outer Hebrides, to the Isle of Lewis & Harris, home to the largest town, Stornoway…
We were sat aboard the MV Loch Seaforth, which had just departed from the small port of Ullapool. It set out into Loch Broom, from where it would join the Minch, the strait of water between the mainland and Lewis & Harris.
It was still early morning, the sun was shining high in the sky and some of the most spectacular views of our holiday in the Highlands would soon be revealing themselves.
We did have one extra passenger on our trip, a new friend we picked up the day before in Fort William. Looks like we know where the Loch Ness Monster goes on holiday!
A few miles North up Loch Broom, we passed “Rhue Lighthouse”, located where the Loch begins to give way to the Minch.
The Lighthouse was built in 1902, and stands around eleven metres high. The original lens from the Tower can now be found in the Ferry Terminal back in Ullapool, after it was replaced by a new solar powered light in 2002.
The Ferry itself was fantastic. There was lots of space, and a nice choice of places to sit, inside and out. There was free and easy access to the outside decks at all times during the voyage, which quickly became our favourite place to enjoy the journey…
Heading out into the Minch, we got just the most spectacular view back at the mainland. The peaks and troughs of the Scottish Highlands were laid out before us, and in the distance we could also possibly discern the outline of the Isle of Skye.
We had the perfect weather to make this trip, as in wet or hazy conditions the mountains would have been completely obscured.
You can stand at either end of the outside deck, and as we advanced through the crossing, we swapped to the Northward facing section of the ship. Eventually, the outline of the Western Isles themselves loomed over the horizon.
The Isles are made up of a number of islands, fifteen of which have permanent populations. The largest is Lewis & Harris, also home to the islands capital, Stornoway. The island is also the third largest of the British Isles, after Great Britain, and Ireland.
As we neared our final destination, we sailed passed the “Arnish Point Lighthouse”, designed by Alan Stevenson (1807 – 1865, Lighthouse Engineer from Edinburgh) in 1852.
Built for the Northern Lighthouse Board, which covers Scotland and the Isle of Man, it was the Boards first ever pre-fabricated Lighthouse, thanks to its new design of iron with a timber lining.
It guards the entrance to the Harbour around Stornoway, which has various rocks, beaches and outcrops which need to be navigated by incoming ships.
We soon arrived in Stornoway itself, a stunning little town which we couldn’t wait to explore…