Hebridean Hop 2: Ullapool to Stornoway

Sunday 29th July 2018


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.

Hebridean Hop 1: Glasgow to Ullapool

Saturday 28th July 2018

Morefield Motel, Ullapool

So when did Scotland’s beautiful summer weather decide to break? The night before we went on holiday of course! Thunder, lightening and torrential rain – I was quite worried about flooding on the car journey ahead of us. In the end, it wasn’t too bad – stormy in parts, but we survived. Our destination was Ullapool on the northwest coast from where we would catch a ferry the following day to Stornoway on the island of Lewis.

Because we were there for such a short time, we booked a simple motel room. We arrived, had a cup of tea and set off for dinner in the beautiful Ceilidh Place.

The evening stayed dry, but when we came out of the restaurant the wind was gusting, as predicted by the weather forecast. The app for CalMac ferries warned of possible delays and disruption. Would we even get to Stornoway the next day? Read on to find out!

Ullapool and Gairloch

From Tongue, we travelled down the west coast to Gairloch via Ullapool. We’d stayed in the latter several times before both at the Ceilidh Place (above left) and the Ferry Boat Inn (above right). The town was founded by the British Fisheries Society at the height of the herring boom in 1788. It’s still an important fishing centre, as well as being the port for the ferry to Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis.

This time, we just stopped long enough for lunch and a wander before carrying on to Gairloch where we spent the final two nights of our holiday. We really liked the Myrtle Bank Inn, which was right on the shore. Continuing through the village, the road terminates at the crofting hamlet of Melvaig – the last picture in the gallery below. The road hugged the edge rather too much for my liking – I can’t imagine living in a place where that was the only route home.

The day after we arrived we spent at the beautiful Inverewe Gardens, which I’ll write about in my next post. The day after that we left for home, via beautiful Loch Maree, having had a wonderful holiday.