Theme Week Outer Hebrides – Lewis and Harris

Saturday, 26 August 2023 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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Stornoway © PaulT (Gunther Tschuch)/cc-by-sa-4.0

Stornoway © PaulT (Gunther Tschuch)/cc-by-sa-4.0

Lewis and Harris (Scottish Gaelic: Leòdhas agus Na Hearadh; Scots: Lewis an Harris), or Lewis with Harris, is a single Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides, divided by mountains. It is the largest island in Scotland and the third largest in the British Isles, after Great Britain and the island of Ireland, with an area of 841 square miles (2,178 km²), which is approximately 1% of the area of Great Britain. The northern two-thirds is called [the Isle of] Lewis and the southern third [the Isle of] Harris; each is referred to as if it were a separate island and there are many cultural and linguistic differences between the two. The main town of the island and the most important town in the Outer Hebrides is Stornoway.

The boundary between Lewis and Harris runs for about six miles (10 kilometres), where the island narrows between Loch Resort (Loch Reasort, opposite Scarp) on the west and Loch Seaforth (Loch Shìophoirt) on the east This is north of the more obvious isthmus at Tarbert, which looks like it should separate North Harris from South Harris but in fact, the North Harris Estate extends much further south. Until 1975, Lewis belonged to the county of Ross and Cromarty and Harris to Inverness-shire. In practical terms, the dividing line is more clear-cut, according to National Geographic. “In a sense, the boundary line runs from Loch Resort in the west to Loch Seaforth in the east. The road between the two dips down past the shoulder of Clisham … until the A859 hits the coast”.

The entire island group is now administered by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Western Isles Council. The boundary was originally between the lands of Clan MacLeod of Harris and Clan MacLeod of Lewis, the latter selling to Colin Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Seaforth. A dispute over 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) between Alexander Hume Macleod and Francis, Lord Seaforth (respective proprietors of Harris and Lewis) led to Court of Session inquiries in 1805 and 1850 and ended with Lord Chief Justice Campbell traversing the boundary on foot. As thus determined, it runs southeast from Loch Resort up Clàr Beag to Loch Chleistir, then east along Bealach na h-Uamha to the River Langdale, then northeast through the peaks of Tom Ruisg, Mullach a’ Ruisg, and Mullach Bhìogadail, east to Amhuinn a Mhuil, and downstream to where it enters Loch Seaforth at Ath Linne under the A859, the only road connecting Lewis and Harris. Seaforth Island was considered part of both Harris and Lewis; for statistical purposes half its area was assigned to each.

Cromwell Street Quay in Stornoway © geograph.org.uk - John Haynes/cc-by-sa-2.0 Bayhead in Stornoway © geograph.org.uk - Colin Smith/cc-by-sa-2.0 Bayhead Street in Stornoway © geograph.org.uk - Stephen Branley/cc-by-sa-2.0 Stornoway Harbour © Wmck/cc-by-2.5 Lewis-Harris 'border' © geograph.org.uk - Ken Craig/cc-by-sa-2.0 Bàgh Bhorghasdail © geograph.org.uk - Anne Burgess/cc-by-sa-2.0 Lews Castle and Sea Gate Lodge in Stornoway © Virtual-Pano/cc-by-sa-4.0 Stornoway © PaulT (Gunther Tschuch)/cc-by-sa-4.0 Stornoway © PaulT (Gunther Tschuch)/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Cromwell Street Quay in Stornoway © geograph.org.uk - John Haynes/cc-by-sa-2.0
According to the Scottish government, “tourism is by far and away the mainstay industry” of the Outer Hebrides, “generating £65m in economic value for the islands, sustaining around 1000 jobs” The report adds that the “islands receive 219,000 visitors per year”. Tourism accounted for 10–15% of economic activity on the Outer Hebrides islands in 2017, according to the tourism bureau. The agency states that the “exact split between islands is not possible” when calculating the number of visits, but “the approximate split is Lewis (45%), Uist (25%), Harris (20%), Barra (10%)”.

Some visitors to Lewis and Harris are attracted by the beaches, particularly the spectacular Luskentyre, but also Seilebost, Horgabost, Scarasta and Borve. Others come for the dramatic landscapes of Harris, to experience the Gaelic traditions or the sense of history, for example at Dun Carloway or the 5,000 year old Callanish Stones.

A major industry on the island is the production of Harris tweed fabric (Clò Mór or Clò Hearach in Gaelic) which is made by hand on the island. It is the only commercially produced handwoven tweed in the world. To qualify as Harris tweed, the textile must be “handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides”, according to a British Act of Parliament. Approximately 400 islanders were working in this industry as of late 2017. The textile is popular with celebrities and Royals.

There is only one manufacturer of Scotch whisky and gin in Isle of Harris, namely the Isle of Harris Distillery, which opened in 2019 and was working to produce The Hearach single malt. The Isle of Lewis also has one, Abhainn Dearg distillery, which was built in 2008.

Modern commercial activities centre on tourism, crofting, fishing, and weaving (including the manufacture of Harris tweed). Crofting (usually defined as small-scale food production) remains popular, with over 920 active crofters, according to a 2020 report: “with crofts ranging in size from as small as a single hectare to having access to thousands of hectares through the medium of community grazing”. Crofters can apply for subsidy grants; some of these are intended to help them find other avenues to supplement their incomes.

A 2018 report stated that the fishing industry on the island primarily focused on aquaculture – fish farming. A conventional fishery still existed, “composed solely of inshore shellfish vessels targeting prawns, crabs and lobsters around the islands and throughout the Minch”.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on Wikivoyage Stornoway, Wikivoyage , Wikivoyage Harris and Wikipedia Lewis and Harris. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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