lews castle, stornoway, isle of lewis For a bit of luxury on the Isle of Lewis then look no further than Lews Castle.

I headed to Stornoway after a few days photographing on the beaches of Harris. After several days outside on the beach making the most of some good decent weather on the outer Hebrides, we arrived in Stornoway ready for the treat that I had booked for myself and my two boys  – two days in Lews Castle. And it definitely did not disappoint!

This Gothic revival style castle has recently been fully restored and opened for guests. The elegant surroundings and their sympathetic restoration, along with the newness of the freshly decorated rooms makes a fabulous first impression as we are shown around our suite by Marcus, the castle’s manager.

Lews castle stornoway

The history of the castle is interesting – Originally commissioned by Sir James Matheson in 1847 and taking seven years to complete, the castle was later sold to Lord Leverhulme along with the rest of Lewis. In 1923 Leverhulme gifted the Parish of Stornoway and the castle to the community. During World War II the castle was converted to a hospital and then in the fifties it became a residential school before finally falling into disuse in the nineties. 

Everything about the castle reinforces you are staying in a tranquil, luxurious, country hideaway, and you would never guess you are just minutes away from the bustling town of Stornoway. 

Entering the castle through the grand archway and then on through the heavy wooden doors leads you into the most spectacular hallway with an ornate ceiling dotted with stars.

Our suite is impressive and my two boys run about from room to room excitedly when we arrive. A beautiful corridor adjoins our three large rooms; all with high ceilings, old style with a contemporary twist – modern clean and fresh. The main bedroom has an antique roll top bath by the large sash windows. For me this is the deciding factor on absolutely having to return here again. It is so far removed from my normal home life, where I can barely squeeze a chair into my bedroom never mind a bath.

I have to admit I’m less inclined to get out and about than I should be. I’m torn between visiting the Callanish Stones and the Blackhouses at Arnol, amongst other things on my list, and just staying in the castle and lapping up every minute of its soothing atmosphere. We  did in fact chose the latter for one of our days….

We did however, on this lazy day indoors, visit to see the Uig chessmen exhibit which returned to lewis last year when the museum opened just downstairs in the castle itself. I am intrigued by the story and remember in my early years my Grandma talking about the chessmen after her own visit to the Western Isles many years ago, so the exhibit was enjoyable. 

Whilst in Stornoway we decided to have two things we wanted to do; one was visit the Callanish stones and the other to eat at Digby chick. Digby Chick is part of the Outer Hebrides Food Trails and well known for its food, so book early to avoid going hungry. I’ll be posting a more in depth review of the restaurant soon! 

After two days at the castle I feel totally pampered and relaxed. There is something about the sheer space in the rooms and the quiet contemporary furnishings in this building full of history that relaxes me and makes me feel peaceful. I definitely leave much more chilled than when I arrived. I suspect another trip is going to be in my diary very soon.

Follow:

Great night last week viewing the new The Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year in Edinburgh. So delighted to have my commended image of Loch Ness hung at the exhibition. Even more delighted to be in volume 3 of the book. I will post photos as soon as I get hold of a copy. Rumour has it my image is also on the back cover so looking forward to seeing that. It is so nice to see so much talent and some fabulous images of Scotland on display.

Follow:

The road is getting smaller and more remote, on one side a few traditional cottages and the other small boats lie sporadically in the blue waters and there’s a wild, stormy sky above me as I drive towards borrisdale. I keep stopping in awe of the landscape, to take pictures of another stunning landscape after another. I love the fact that Harris has so many landscapes all different and all wild and unique. I’m heading towards Borrisdale to a pop up shop I was told about whilst at Talla Na Mara that morning. Borrisdale is a tiny place and there are no signs to tell me when I am going.  I am simply told to head towards the Sound of Harris accomodation. As I arrive into borrisdale, there has to be no other option than the stunning building which sits on the edge of a clifftop close to Renish Point.
The gates are closed, but only to keep the sheep out. I meet with rob English owner of the Sound of Harris and the tweed shop. and go in to have a look at this tiny but beautifully laid out shop.

Carol Graham and Rob English were awarded the 2016 Outer Hebrides Design Award for the development of the new textiles business and pop-up shop. The couple have sourced a new Griffith double width loom and warping mill to enable them to operate as independent Harris Tweed weavers.  Until their own weaving comes on stream, products are being offered in single width Tweed from local independent weavers (Toabh Tuath and Luskentyre), with many designs being exclusively commissioned.

Having just moved home, I have been looking for cushions and throws for my new home, so I’m in heaven. I choose a tweed which is a soft beige and take home some cushions with me. I realise that it looks strikingly like sand which might explain the reason I love it. I’m going to order a sea blue bed throw and then my Harris sea bedroom will be complete.
If you are in Harris it’s worth a trip out to borrisdale. If you are confused as to where to go here are some directions;
Travel all the way south of Harris following the main road which goes towards rodel. Turn right at Leverburgh, heading towards the ferry and the anchorage restaurant but before you get there there is a left turn signed towards Borrisdale. Turn left and keep going till you get into Borrisdale and see you the property on your right hand side.

www.borrisdale.co.uk

@Borrisdale (Twitter, Facebook)

01859 520208

Open daily Mon-Sat 10-6pm (please email if you are coming down specially and we’ll make sure we’re available)

 

 

Follow:

I had just pulled up and was unpacking my gear at Scarista beach, Isle of Harris last week when I heard someone shout ”Margaret”. Coincidentally, Mo Thomson from MoThomson Digital media happened to have had the same idea and was getting ready to fly his drone. Scarista was looking suitably moody with gorgeous changeable light – from sunshine to threatening rain within minutes. The perfect conditions to for me to photograph in. What were the chances of us randomly meeting up on a deserted beach on the Outer Hebrides and producing this amazing footage of me working. Watch the video below to see the beauty of Scarista.

 

Follow:

 

Nestled in the wild landscape of the North West Highlands, just an hour down the road from my new home is Inverlochy Castle.

I had a magnificent stay during an unseasonably warm few days in March this year. The awe-inspiring backdrop of Ben Nevis just behind the 19th century castle makes for a very impressive morning view that invites you to relax and enjoy.

Driving through the carefully manicured gardens to the statuesque castle you arrive at a huge archway and quickly realise that everything is going to be handled for you in the most unassuming manner. My luggage was swiftly removed from the car and the car parked before I could even think about it. I immediately felt welcome and that I belonged here.

Amongst my favourite experiences during my stay at Inverlochy was my bathroom.

I soothed all my aches, pains and troubles away in the most amazing relaxing bath while I marveled in the tastefully chosen décor of the impressively large bathroom. I have never felt the need to take so many baths in such a short period of time; it was the most magical room.

The other outstanding experience was most definitely the mouthwatering food. The model Roux 5 star restaurant serves a 6 course-tasting menu, which changes every night. Each of the 6 courses was a show stopping delight.

The handmade Mallaig Lobster and brown shrimp ravioli with celeriac, apple and sauce bisque started off the procession of delights, which just kept coming, each one a sensory marvel between taste, touch, smell, and vision. The heavenly descriptions from the server completed the sensory tour and enhanced the overall experience of each of these dishes.

After rising early the first morning I opened my curtains to the most perfect landscape photography weather. A low rolling mist clinging onto the distant mountains, the morning sun just starting to rise in the clear sky and a perfect reflection in the loch close to the gardens. I had to capture it.

Knowing time was limited before this picturesque view would be lost forever, I did a mad dash downstairs to try and get out on the water before the wind picked up and all was lost. I quickly untied the hotel’s little rowing boat from its boat shed and paddled out onto the still water.

The reflection of the castle appeared just as the last wisps of low-lying mist on the water began to lift while the sun rose above. Ben Nevis framed the castle perfectly in the background. The unflawed light, composition, timing and improvised boating abilities allowed me to capture that perfect moment before it disappeared forever.

I loved every magical second I spent at the castle and will definitely return!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow: