Hebridean Hop 2: Ullapool to Stornoway

Sunday 29th July 2018

Ullapool

I woke up at 4am to the sound of torrential rain and howling gales. No ferry would run in this and, sure enough, by 7am the CalMac app was filled with doom. The 8am ferry would not leave Stornoway in Lewis until at least 10, so the 11:30 return leg on which we were booked would be severely delayed.

Strangely, it turned into a beautiful morning in Ullapool, albeit with a stiff breeze as the horizontal bunting in the picture above attests. However, no such luck in Stornoway where the ferry’s departure got later and later. We spent our time revisiting the Ceilidh Place for coffee, shopping for waterproof trousers – essential items which we realised we’d left at home – and generally enjoying the pretty views.

Eventually, the ferry left Stornoway at 12 noon and, it seemed, everyone in Ullapool turned out to greet its arrival at 14:30. By 15:30 we were onboard and on our way, arriving in Lewis at 6pm, a mere four hours late.

Lewis is a Sabbatarian island and in the past it would not have been possible to arrive on a Sunday because no ferries ran. This has now changed, but most restaurants still close on Sundays, including the one in our hotel. I’d taken the precaution of advance-booking somewhere that was open, about twenty minutes walk away. First, we watched our ferry depart for Ullapool again, then we wandered off to dinner admiring various pieces of sculpture and street art on the way there and back.

And so to bed, hopefully to sleep better than I had the night before.

64 Comments »

  1. Well, the delay didn’t seem to cause too much of a headache (more anticipatory stress than bad things happening stress) and you were treated to a lovely day in Ullapool. Glad you arrived safely with reservations. Hope that the evening was a restful one.

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  2. I’m quite envious that you got to explore the islands and I didn’t! That’ll teach me for being lazy and not researching or booking anything at all! Nevermind, I will eventually get there. Love the photos 🙂

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  3. Hi Anabel – thanks for the warning re Sunday opening … not something I’d have thought about in this day and age. But glad things worked out … it looks a stunning area – and you’ve given us some great photos (or John has!) … cheers Hilary

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  4. That’s quite an adventure so far! Have heard the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool is worth a visit. Not yet been to Stornoway or any of the Outer Hebrides but dearly want to, particularly on a Sunday.

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    • Thanks Donna! I guess, we had no choice but to be flexible, but I did worry a bit about what we would do if the ferry was cancelled altogether and all the potential passengers needed to stay overnight in Ullapool. I had visions of sleeping in the car, I’m quite good at making up these ridiculous situations. We would just have driven to Inverness which is not far and has loads of hotels, as John pointed out. But a worrier will worry!

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    • Age and experience helps in the planning! Since I wrote this a friend told me of a time she and her partner went youth hosteling. A young man arrived on a Sunday and asked where he could shop for food. He had nothing! Fortunately, my friend was able to feed him dinner and breakfast before he stomped off back to the mainland in disgust.

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