By Corey Sandler
Stornoway is on an island off of an island.
Just to make things even more complicated, it has two names: Lewis and Harris. It’s just one island, but it helps confuse outsiders, which may be the point.
Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides is the largest island of Scotland and the third-largest island in the British Isles, after Britain and Ireland.
Tobermory: So Near, Yet So Far
We had expected to make a port call on 30 August at Tobermory on the Ile of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, but we ran afoul of some foul weather. We arrived at Tobermory in the early morning to find wind gusts as high as 50 knots.
Our captain attempted to find safe shelter in a cove and wait to see if the winds would subside, but even in the cove we were dragging our anchor and not safely stopped. And so we sailed away from Tobermory and headed for Stornoway where we arrived at dinnertime and overnighted at the pier.
Stornoway: The Port After the Storm
The town of Stornoway was founded by Vikings in the early 9th century, with the Old Norse name Stjórnavágr. The town grew up around a sheltered natural harbor well placed at a central point on the island.
Trade developed across the island, and onward to the mainland of Scotland and to Norse settlements elsewhere.
The two-name single island is a lovely place. I went with guests on a drive through the northern part, Lewis. Here are some scenes from today of the rolling moors, the prehistoric Standing Stones of Callanish, and an ancient broch:
Local gourmands will point you to a few specialties of the region, including Stornoway Black Pudding.
It’s not a pudding, at least in the dessert sense. It is traditionally made from beef suet, Scottish oatmeal, and pork blood. It has a firm texture and when cooked is said to be moist, not greasy and savoury, not spicy.
You might like it.
I’ll stick to butterscotch pudding.
For centuries, islanders in the Outer Hebrides have hand-weaved a distinctive woolen cloth: Harris Tweed. By tradition, Harris Tweed is hand woven on a manually-powered treadle loom at each weaver’s home.
The weaver arranges hundreds of heddles to a specified pattern before the beam of warp yarn is tied into the loom by hand. The weaver then sets up the weft threads, pulling bobbins of yarn through a series of guides to be woven into the warp threads by a flashing “rapier.”
I have no idea what that means. But I do have a nice Harris Tweed sport coat back home.
Today we visited a traditional weaver:
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