Lewis & Harris
Tarbert is situated on a narrow isthmus between West Loch Tarbert and East Loch Tarbert which links South Harris to North Harris and Lewis. Creagan overlooks the East Loch and is less than 10 minutes walk from the village centre, which has a Tourist Information Centre with a cash point machine close by, 2 grocery shops which also sell newspapers, a post office and craft/gift shops which sell a variety of products and local crafts including items made from Harris Tweed as well as books about the islands.
There is a petrol station in Tarbert and another one a few miles along the road to Stornoway at Ardhasaig (The only other filling station on Harris is in Lever burgh, South Harris). For eating out Tarbert offers bars, 2 hotels, a restaurant and a café. There is also a leisure centre with a small gym and a swimming pool. Ten minutes drive away at Bunavoneadar are what surely must be Britain’s most windswept tennis courts.
Please note: there is widespread observance of Sunday as a day of rest on Lewis and Harris and consequently shops, businesses etc are closed on Sundays. Remember to fill up with petrol and buy in essentials on Saturday. A small welcome pack of some basic items will be waiting for you on your arrival at Creagan.
Harris has a unique landscape. It has the highest hills in the Outer Hebrides. Along its West coast stretch amazing sandy beaches and lush green machair with its abundance of wildflowers. Its eastern side is rocky and boulder strewn, pitted with little inland lochs and indented with craggy bays and giving superb views of Skye and (on a clear day) the mainland of Scotland as well as the chance to see seals basking on the rocks.
North Harris is dominated by its hills, with ever changing vistas of the sea and islands, valleys and lochs. Everywhere in Harris you are conscious of “big skies”!
The charm of Harris for many is the peace and tranquillity and the opportunity to relax, unwind, take in the scenery and soak up the atmosphere. However there are plenty of activities for the more energetic:
Hillwalking: a recently upgraded network of paths has made the hills more accessible or more experienced walkers can find their own way across the hills and moors.
Bird and wildlife watching: the shores and moors are visited by many native and migratory birds such as oystercatchers, whimbrels, arctic terns, lapwings, hooded crows, redwings, buzzards and golden eagles. Seals are commonly seen in the waters around Harris, and otters and porpoises too, though you have to look harder! Red deer also can be spotted on the hills or even at the roadside.
Fishing: both sea angling and fly fishing on lochs and rivers are available.
Golf: there is a world famous 9 hole links course at Scarista.
Boat trips to see marine life and the islands: including the remote St Kilda and the Shiant Isles, both of which are famed for their wild bird populations and scenery.
Exploring local culture and history: St Clement’s church at Rodel, exhibitions at Seallam (genealogy centre), standing stones, traces of deserted villages, cultural events etc.
Lewis and Stornoway
Stornoway, the main town in the Western Isles, is only 36 miles from Tarbert. It has a variety of shops, including 2 large supermarkets, 2 chemists, bookshops with books on local and Scottish history, gift shops selling local and Scottish made items etc. Places of interest there include the museum, the arts centre and cinema at An Lanntair and the sports and leisure centre (which has a soft play area). The grounds of Lews Castle are a relaxing place to take a stroll around and to enjoy the view of Stornoway from across the harbour – which is a very good place to spot seals!
Like Harris, Lewis has some spectacular scenery – stretches of sandy beaches and rocky cliffs in particular, plus places of archaeological and historical interest. Among the “must see” places are the circles of standing stones at Callanish, Carloway Broch and the Butt of Lewis, the northern tip of the Outer Hebrides.