Isles of Lewis and Harris

18th Nov continued

So we are on the ferry from Ullapool to Stornaway, on the isle of Lewis. We locked up and settled at a table with power and fired up the laptops to catch up on web site stuff and get the banking sorted.  Once underway it was soon time for breakfast. The ferry journey only took 2 and a half hours not 4 and a half as we had been informed!    

The time went quickly and before we knew it we were being asked to return to our vehicles. We drove off the ferry and headed for the launderette which we found on ‘search4sites' but it wasn’t suitable as there was nowhere to park the van so we carried on to the car park ///hypocrite.torso.beyond where we stayed overnight for free. We had a walk around the town and found an information centre which was very useful.     

There were some loud cars driving around until around 2am then it was quietish apart from the harbour noise. Not the best spot but we can't moan as it was free and legal and we had no trouble.


Next morning, we took our washing to the launderette in shopping bags as we couldn't park the van any closer! While the washing and drying was in progress we sat in the cafe and kept warm with some mochas and cake which we shared because it was so rich and sugary.

Later we headed off to the west side of the island of Lewis and found a site with EHU, water and waste facilities and showers £25 a night.  ///interrupt.recliner.pushing. Donald, the owner of the place met us as we parked up and said that he would turn the water back on and get the shower curtain put back up as they had shut down for the winter!

Andy filled and emptied and then got leisure battery on charge for the first time in 3 weeks. We put everything on charge to get our money's worth and then had brunch. We fancied a walk up to see a stone circle and down to the beach so off we went, coats, beanies and gloves on as the wind was fierce and icy!  The stone circle was small but the thought of how many years it had been there and how the people had lived in those times was amazing. We got some great video of the sea and the pebble beaches and we met some highland cows on the way back to the van where we had a lovely hot shower in the facilities block. 

We had a YouTube evening catching up with our favourite van life channels and a nice roast dinner before bed. The wind picked up during the night gusting at 32mph but we were getting used to it by now.  


Up at 8:30 and a cuppa. Andy got dressed for the cold and went out to get his bike ready to go to nearest ATM to get cash out to pay for the site when Donald offered to drive him there. As it was still very windy, Andy accepted and off they went to the petrol station and shop. The ATM was out of action and as the minimum spend for cash back at the till was £5 Andy had to buy a bottle of wine and a bottle of beer! Shame.

Back to the van and we paid Donald the £25 and then got the van ready to go. We set off towards the sports centre at Ness point at the top of Lewis. ///chose.lamplight.haggis.  

We got parked and went into the sports centre. We had a wander around the displays. There were some nice posters about wildlife etc. in the local area. The showers were £3 and there was a sauna if you wanted it, we didn't. The parking was free overnight and there was a small charge (£3) for water and waste. There was no EHU. 

We wrapped up with our new coats one got on the bikes and cycled to the harbour. The sea was wild and the waves were crashing against the rocks. It was invigorating. We got back to the van in the warm and watched the Las Vegas grand prix.  


Andy decided to try to repair the diesel heater as we now had the parts that we had ordered from Amazon. He decided that before changing the glow plug he would try the spare circuit board to see if that was the problem. He removed the old one and fitted the new one in its place and then reconnected the power and fired it up.....and it worked. Nice and warm again, we would not have to rely on the gas heating so much now. 

Then we emptied our tanks and set off for Butt of Lewis lighthouse. 

When we got to the lighthouse we checked the lights and we discovered that they were not working again. Damn! We had brunch after a walk along the cliff tops and then headed south to take cover from the coming wind. Gusts of 45mph plus are forecast for the next few days! 

We decided to stop at the sports centre again as it was a safe place so Andy could work on fixing the lights. He found a cable had come away at the Amber side marker lights near the step so he rewired it with terminal block and electrical tape but wasn't happy that the join would last for long as it was open to the water coming up off of the road. All good for now though. After a red hot shower we had dinner and stayed for another night.  


Back on the road this morning. We thought that we would head south and east to get shelter from the north westerly wind. We decided on Stornoway again and managed to get the van across the centre of the island on the A857 in the wind and sideways rain! Once in Stornoway we stopped at the Manor filling station when we filled water tank up and bought red diesel. (99p per litre) then we parked in the harbour car park and went for a walk to Lews castle and had a Chinese takeaway for dinner.  


A very very windy night. Gusting 50mph. This continued through the morning and we braved the weather to get to the launderette. We sat in the community cafè next door and had mochas and cakes whilst Andy charged his phone. Once washing was done we took it back to the van and set off for the Callanish standing stones which were 5000 years old. We parked just outside the car park next to a container for the night out of the wind. ///skewed.amending.riverside.  


No Sunrise today, too cloudy but it brightened later and we went for a walk to watch the tide rushing in on the Loch. Then off to Tarbert where we had mochas, venison burger and tuna sandwich in the cafè before heading south along a winding, undulating narrow road with spectacular views around every corner to find an overnight spot, overlooking the sea. ///shaky.unleashed.minerals. Absolutely spectacular views as the sun went down over the Loch and the Minch. We checked for the aurora borialis but too cloudy!  


Cold this morning so diesel heater went on at 7am whilst Andy had his first coffee. The sunrise was amazing. Andy had a look at the fuses to see what was causing the lights and dash board problem but no luck so we headed back into Tarbert car park and sat in the cafè and called Green flag. We had a couple of mochas each and some food and then walked around to the harbour. The auto electrician arrived but couldn't find the problem so we phoned Green flag again. We decided that the best option was to carry on as we were until we got back on the mainland, driving during daylight only, and then phone Green flag again. We stayed in Tarbert car park again overnight.



It was a noisy night up until about 1am. The hotel across the road had an event on and there was music and party goers until the early hours but there were no problems. We felt safe. We woke up cold so we checked the battery and put the diesel heater on and got ready to move on, south west today. We were heading for Luskentyre bay which Sue had found and researched on Search4sites and Google maps. The What3words address is ///handrail.haircuts.founding. But first, we needed clean water and Andy had a walk around to the distillery and found a tap on the outside wall so we headed there first!    

Although it wasn't as easy as we thought it would be to fill up, the tap was just too far away from the van for the hose to reach and Andy had to fill the water hog up. Then he discovered that the pump was not working so he had to decant the water into the 5 litre bottle and fill from that! However, once done we hit the road and found our park up for the night.

Luskentyre bay is beautiful. The tide was out when we got there and it had a very shallow tidal fall so the sea was miles out. We had a walk on massive beach and got lots of drone video. We walked along the road for a mile to explore and then back to the van for coffee. The Chef from cafè in Tarbert parked next to us and walked his dog on the beach.


Well the leisure battery was flat again as we have not been driving far enough to charge it so Andy started the engine so it would charge from the split charge relay then put the diesel heater on. We got the bikes out and cycled around the bay to Luskentyre beach and dunes. 


We cycled past some spectacular properties and the famous ‘cake shed’ where you leave you money in an honesty box. 

There was also a shop which was completely unattended but also had an honesty box. We parked the bikes and scaled the dunes which led to the most magnificent beach that we have ever seen. It went on for miles it seemed and with mountains as a backdrop and the beautifully blue water. We both agreed that we could live here! 

Back to the van and on to Leverburgh ferry terminal via the community shop for some (very expensive) provisions. Today’s ferry had been cancelled due to weather, it's still a bit windy. Andy phoned and booked us on tomorrow’s ferry for £44. Andy took the laptop, phones and other devices over to the deserted waiting room to charge them up whilst he read Spike Milligan. "Adolf Hitler, my part in his downfall".

We stayed in the car park overnight and it was quiet and we felt safe.


A quiet night although with a hum of generators in the back ground. Andy was awake at 6:30 and got up to make a solo coffee and watch the sunrise over the harbour. Shame a van pulled up along side and blocked the view. 

The waiting room was open so Andy used the toilet to save filling the cassette any more than necessary!  On checking the ferry service status it seemed that our ferry could be sailing as planned this morning! Good news. At around 8am other vehicles started to turn up and the harbour woke up and got noisier so we got the van ready and pulled into the queue. The ferry arrived and we boarded and went upstairs and plugged phones in to charge. 

Read about the next part of our journey at "North and south Uist"