Wednesday, 8 August 2012

From Hampshire, To Glasgow To Stornoway To Calbost and Back Again...

Pictures from our trip to return Alistair to his childhood home... The first picture just has to be of the blue sky and fluffy white clouds. Even scary cat me had to look!! My dad always used to say, 'It's nice going away, but even nicer coming home again...' and even nicer to no longer smell like a peat bog! Shame, my only picture of a sheep, didn't come out... but then, when you've seen one sheep...This ‘Baile Phàil’ Croft 12 in Calbost, Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland (seen on a few guild book covers) when we last visited, nearly 22 years ago... not a lot has changed, only it now has a shower! The windows and doors are now white PVC double glazing (Can't image that that would be allowed if it was here in Hampshire) and the chimneys now have a fresh lick of white paint. There is electricity and water but no phone signal, no internet and no tv! At the top of the track is one new street light!! In this first picture of the Croft, you can just make out Emma when she was about 9 or 10 playing in the burn (stream)
In the next pictures you can see the new windows and doors and the new white washed chimneys. A peat fire burns all day, every day, when anyone is staying. We arrived in a white mini-bus, this red van is owned by 'The Germans', a mother and daughter, who now live in the croft above to the right...
which can just be seen in this next picture... I've written on it, so you can see. They have quite a long walk, and there's not even a proper path! Imagine that when it's snowing!!
This next picture is Loch Dubh(Doo) and the sea, with more ruins, which once would have been home to two or even three families!! John is actually fishing off the rocks in this picture! Zoom in...he's in the middle, wearing a dark jacket and cream shorts!
I walked up to the 'main road' to take this picture of the croft and the 'road' that runs past it. This leads to a house you can just see in the far distance...
...walking through the land that surrounds that house, leads to those rocks, here we caught some fish. You can just make out John, and Alistair's brothers on the far rock, fishing.
Walking on round the top of the hill/cliff on my own, through some gates, I passed a few more ruins... and wondered who lived here a hundred years or more ago.
I wanted to get down onto the beach, but there didn't seem to be a safe way down.
There was a great view of the sea from the top of the cliff though.Further round the cove is this old fisherman's hut. Still not easy to get down to, and not very wise to try on your own. Honestly, you could be there for years before anyone finds you!!I go back and later in the afternoon, here's John sitting on the rocks while I figure how to get down onto the beach. I wanted to take back a stone last time we were here and didn't, and was determined to get one this time! Later the next day, John came with me along the cliff top and after fighting our way down the hill side, over these rocks, the marshy gullies, more ruins, and through bracken higher than us...
we managed to get to the beach from the other side, where, still watching out for the boggy bits (yes, I rolled in it!) and slippery sea-weedy clumps, you can get back to the rocks where we fished. I brought back one of those large stripy stones! Well, a 'little' one! It was very heavy!Looking back the other way, you can just see the Croft and Loch Dubh. When the sea comes in, it never quite reaches the Loch, but it gets very marshy!
We climbed back up on the other side over the heather. (Better a roll with Heather, than Pete in the bog!) You may think the tyres were just thrown there, but they were a very good way of tracing your way back though the marshy bits.
This picture was taken by John about 9 in the morning. He's sitting high on the 'Rock of Destiny' showing how it really is, in the middle of nowhere. You're not woken by songbirds, maybe the odd craw from a huge raven type bird or a baa from a sheep. The sheep, these days don't appear to run free as they did when we stayed before, but moved round to different fenced off areas each day.
This is the 'main road.'. ( single track with passing places) Stornoway is about a 60mile round trip the other way!
John favourite sign he found in Stornoway was outside a pub! Actually, there really isn't anywhere to 'shop' on Stornoway, just a Tesco's and a Co-op for groceries. Everything closes Sunday. When we were down before doing anything on a Sunday was forbidden! Even hanging out washing, cooking... and if you walked anywhere or drove, it had to be to or from church! Not so bad now. Pubs, restaurants and the museum were open!
Not forgetting why we went... this is the burn where Alistair and his brothers and sisters played and fished as children, it leads to Lock Dubh. This is where we scattered his ashes. About seventeen of us including his Scottish family turned up on his birthday (4th August) to drink a dram and say a few words.

John-Roddy, Alistair's brother had a stone made, which we left on a rock by the tumbling water, with a small dram of whisky.Google Maps


  1. Awesome pictures Spyder. I am glad you made it up there in one piece and of sane mind ! :-) The scenery is just amazing and that Croft - well, I can't imagine being there in the winter. It looks fabulous now but how desolate and cut off it must be in bad weather. The view John took from the 'Rock of Destiny' is just gobsmacking. Also I LUV that pub sign... LMAO.
    Good to have you back.
    Ike xxx

  2. Hi Lyn, I wept at this lovely post for Alistair - beautiful honey!

    What's shaken me is that my Aunt came from Stornaway, from a little croft as well. It's such a small place - could we be related, albeit by marriage?!

    Thank you for sharing, and RIP Alistair. You did him proud!

    Hugs, and now hopefully you can move on a bit.

    Di xxx

  3. Beautiful pictures am so glad it went successfully - I have some of those stripy stones on my windowsill :0)

  4. Lovely pictures Lyn! Such a perfectly peaceful place to be 'laid to rest'.
    The whole area looks like a rough place to live 'these days' but it must have been so much more so in Alistair's childhood days. But I bet they were happy, carefree days, (on the whole).
    I hope you enjoyed the good clean air and 'come again soon' :0)

  5. Stunning photo's Lyn, what a beautiful part of the world? Hubby loves Stornaway black pudding, did you sample some?

    We went to Skye and Loch Ness for our honeymoon, it was truly fantastic. We stayed at the famous Three Chimneys for a night and watched minky whales off the coast amongst other things. Scotland is wonderful!

    The stone and dram where a lovely idea and l can't think of anywhere nicer to have your ashes scattered.

    TFS xx

  6. Love your pictures. Looks like a nice to place have scattered Alistair's ashes.

  7. Love the Husband Creche...may just set one up in Aberdeen!

  8. Wow! Ruggedly beautiful countryside! Thank you for sharing the pictures!

  9. That looks like a beautiful place to visit. Take care and when you get back home, come visit my blog. I have something to show you.


  10. gorgeous photos Lyn, that husband sign cracked me up!! :)

  11. What a beautiful place and you got some great photos, how lovely for Alistair to have that plaque. Love the Husband Creche!

    Cazzy x

  12. Thank you for sharing these lovely pics and for giving us an insight of your trip. I am pleased that all went well and Alistair is back there where he had many a lovely day. The stone is lovely Lyn.
    I thought the photos were wonderful.I am not familiar with the area and so it was nice to see and hear about it all.I too wondered about that ruin and who lived there, if you find out l would love an update.
    Enjoy your evening...
    Susan x
    susan x

  13. I finally got to read your post. Love the photos. It was beautiful there. Made me wish I was there to do some painting. Sounds like you had a good time. thanks for sharing. Edwina Brown

  14. I enjoyed your trip to Scotland. I love hearing stories and seeing pictures of everyone's holidays. Never been to Europe and probably never will, so this is my International holiday. RIP Alistair, I am sure you were pleased with your loving family.


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