Isle of Harris

Harris (or in the Gaelic “Na Hearadh” from the old Norse “High island”) lies in the centre of the Western Isles, the 130 mile-long chain otherwise known as the Outer Hebrides. The islands have a rich and intriguing history and a landscape untouched by time.

The Hebrides is the heartland of many famous clans. By the sixteenth century Harris belonged to the Clan MacLeod of Harris and Dunvegan, with their main religious centre at Roghadal. St.Clement's Church at Roghadal is a magnificent medieval building and one of the main tourist attractions of Harris. It was built in the early 1500s by Alexander MacLeod.

Harris is a beautiful island of mountains, beaches, lochs, tranquil bays, rock and heather. Although referred to as an island it is in fact attached to the Isle of Lewis, separated by mountains. The Clisham (at 799 metres) being the highest mountain in the whole of the Hebrides. The spectacular pure white deserted beaches of the west coast (Luskentyre and Huisinish to name but two) are in stark contrast to the high hills and rocky “lunar” landscape of the east coast.

Harris is famous worldwide for its “Harris Tweed”. The fabric is made from 100% pure wool, spun and woven from the sheep of the Island. Much of the weaving is still done on looms at crofters' homes, including Donald Mackay, Luskentyre Harris Tweed Company; Rebecca Hutton, taobh tuath tweeds, Northton.

Tarbert (from the Norse “tairbeart”, meaning draw-boat) was established as a fishing village around 1780 and is the main centre of Harris. There are various shops including: grocery stores, post office, craft shop, tea room and the essential bank and petrol station.

Whilst in Tarbert don't miss out on visiting the Harris Tweed shop (next to the harbour) for bags, hats, caps, jackets and more. Also, close by, why not call in to Isle of Harris Distillery.

St Kilda is a World Heritage Site. Enjoy a day's cruise to the islands (leaving from Leverburgh), it is not to be missed. The volcanic islands are home to many breeding sea birds. The cruise company is owned by Angus Campbell, who was born in Harris and has been a fisherman around Harris and St Kilda for many years. Visit the Kilda Cruises website for more details. Other trips, including to Shiant Isles, are available through Isle of Harris Sea Tours.

The Seallam visitor centre at Northton has an exhibition about the people and landscape of the Hebrides and is well worth a visit. It has a genealogy research service for tracing ancestors from the Western Isles.

Isle of Lewis

Stornoway, the only town in the Outer Hebrides, is less than 1hrs drive away. We are only 1hr 20min drive from the spectacular 5,000 year old Standing Stones of Callanish.

Other places of historic interest on Lewis:

  • Dun Carloway Broch is the best preserved broch in the Western Isles
  • Gearrannan blackhouse village, near Carloway, are beautifully restored thatched cottages.
  • Arnol Blackhouse Museum – a unique insight into traditional island life.
  • Bosta Iron Age House – magnificent reconstruction of houses discovered nearby.