2017 Holiday Season Photos.

As we approach the 2018 holiday season, with bookings already taken for many weeks in 2018, it is time to put up some photos taken in the area around Dollag's Cottage so our guests old and new can see what has been going on, and can admire the wonderful things there are to see on the West Side of Lewis. As ever it is important to note that the cottage doesn't have a full time photographer and so these are just little snaps taken while out doing other things. A lot of the time I'm going out to fish and so lochs, rivers and fishing are very over represented in the images but hopefully even if you have no interest in such things you will still enjoy getting to see the landscape. For the last few years I've done something similar and complied a little selection of photos so once you tire of the 2017 images you can have a look at some previous years here:

2014 photos

2015 photos

2016 photos

2018 photos

For a change I thought I'd start with some video. This year I shot a little bit of video in the area around the cottage and I've put together this short compliation representing the sights, and also the sounds, that a visitor will meet with on the West Side of Lewis. The audio isn't great quality as it was all recorded on the little inbuilt microphone on my point and shoot camera but it helps build a picture of the atmosphere of Lewis and includes Gaelic Psalm singing, sea scapes, bottle feeding lambs, working sheep, a stone circle, an eagle, some traditional music, a few local rivers, and even your host at Dollag's Cottage working in her peats with the cuckoo calling from the hill out the front of the cottage:

Dollag's Cottage @ 7 South Shawbost
We saw in the New Year, and welcomed 2017, with dinner at the wonderful 40 North in the nearby village of Bragar and on coming back spotted some northern lights behind a neighbour's house, this photo was taken without a tripod so it isn't very steady but you can sort of get the idea:

Northern Lights in Shawbost
Even at New Year the work with sheep doesn't stop and Rambo ram was spending some time on the croft at Dollag's Cottage having a little rest after a busy time during the autumn:

and Isle of Lewis ram
In January the moor seems quite dead but it is still nice to get out and about for a walk and to drop by the old shielings found even on the most remote areas. Although the moor can look quite dead there can also be lots to see with many of the bryophytes continuing to grow right throughout the year:

Lewis moorland in January
moss on the Lewis moorland
The work at sheep never stops and once New Year is over it doesn't seem like long before the nights are getting lighter and the thoughts turn to new lambs appearing on the croft. Lambing is always hard work with long days and there are successes and failures. In 2017 we got quite a few little lambs in a box - lambs that either came to us because we had a sheep who had lost her lamb and were given someone else's "spare" lamb or sometimes if the lamb is poorly they would be brought inside to live in their wee box by the stove for a little while until they got on their feet. This wee chap was one of triplets and his mum couldn't cope with all three so he came to us for a sheep who had lost her lamb:

A pet lamb in a box
It is great, especially when things are difficult, to see them out on the croft healthy, well and bouncing about causing trouble:

On the croft at Dollag's Cottage
The arrival of the lambs also sees the fishing season starting to get under way and it is always great to get out and about with the rod even if only for the wonderful views and the chance to walk the moor again:

Early season salmon fishing in the Hebrides
After Spring salmon on the Isle of Lewis
Catching a fish is the least important part of a day up the river but now and again a Lewis Springer does come along. Here on Lewis we fish for our salmon with trout rods as the rivers tend to be small so this spring fish, estimated around 10lb in weight, was caught on gear that in most places would be used for 1lb brown trout. He was, of course, returned to go on his way with a rather more cautious attitude towards any Silver Stoats he might see on his travels:

Isle of Lewis Spring salmon
At this time of year it is also nice to get a day or two at some trout fishing though to be honest for me most of the fun is in getting the stove going and making some tea and watching the world go by. With increasing numbers of hen harriers on the moor a cup of tea is often also an excuse to watch the harrier or, as can be seen in the video at the top of the page, the golden eagle:

Spring trout fishing on the Isle of Lewis
As well as the eagles and harriers Lewis also has an interesting, and important, population of slow worms which are not actually native to the island. It seems likely they arrived in soil that was brought to the island. In the Spring they often come out onto exposed spots to soak up the sun and this can be the best time to see them. They are not snakes but rather legless lizards:

an Isle of Lewis slow worm
Dollag's Cottage actually has an indoor shower but for the hardy there is always the option of a bath on the croft! This image was taken on the croft associated with the cottage and the bath is to providing drinking water for the sheep who are often to be found here, though it is a somewhat unusual thing to see on first glance:

On the croft associated with Dollag's Cottage
Early in the season the moor still hasn't taken on the green colours of the summer, though they are starting to show through, but even so it can still make for some excellent views and, of course, the beaches for which the area is famous are there all year round. These images were taken in May which often has dry and sunny weather and when you combine this with approaching 18 hours of daylight it is a great time to be in Dollag's Cottage and enjoying the island:

Isle of Lewis stone circle
Beach near Dollag's Cottage on the Isle of Lewis
Once there has been a long period of dry weather work starts on the peats which are dug from the moorland and then left to dry before being taken home for winter fuel. A day in the peats is always brightened up by many cups of tea and the cuckoo calling from the nearby hillside. If you take the time to stop then you can watch the cuckoo flit from rock to rock making a quick test call from each new location until he gets a spot he likes and then embarks on a long chain of calls, the recording in the video at the top of the page was made from this peat bank:

In the peats in Shawbost
The year flies past so quickly and it is not long before we are into the long summer days. Lewis is very low lying and so can get much more sun than most visitors imagine, and certainly a lot more than most of mainland Scotland so factor 50 is often a requirement even in order to get to the bottom of the croft:

Shawbost croft
And, of course, all those wild flowers and Atlantic seascapes make for great evenings on the coastline, these were taken within a few yards of your front door at Dollag's Cottage on a July evening:

Coastline beside Dollag's Cottage
Coastline beside Dollag's Cottage
Visitors staying in the cottage who would rather take to the hill for the sunset, rather than heading for the coastline, also have plenty of options and this shows the sun setting over Loch Raoinebhat. Dollag's Cottage is just out of frame to the right in this image:

Shawbost sunset from the hill above Dollag's Cottage
Of course there are plenty other sunset options, these were all taken within walking distance, or a short drive, of the cottage:

Sunset on the West Side of the Isle of Lewis
Sunset on a beach close to Dollag's Cottage
Evening light on Dalmore Beach close to Dollag's Cottage
On the coast a few yards from Dollag's Cottage
When taking a walk in the evening your host at Dollag's Cottage, Dollanna, would sometimes take a quick cast to see if she can bag a trout or salmon for her dinner, on an evening like this there isn't much chance but it is more about getting an evening out rather than the fish caught:

An evening cast for trout on the Isle of Lewis
Your host at Dollag's Cottage fishing for trout on Lewis
Even in high summer it is often possible to find a secret beach where the kids can play and even the very famous and popular beaches are rarely crowded:

Secret beach on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis
Kids playing on the beach on the Isle of Lewis
Some land and seascapes close to the little patch of sand in the images above:

Seascape taken on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis
Sheep and hills in the Uig area of Lewis
The far west coast of Lewis
You don't need to go to the coast to get decent views, this is a view taken overlooking the Lewis moorland, this disused house had a red roof on it in the past and so made a much better photo but this year the roof is gone:

Disused house overlooking the Lewis moorland
Just as the summer seems to appear almost directly after New Year so it doesn't seem like long before we are into the Autumn and the moor is starting to change colour, the fish are also looking great in their Autumn colours:

Isle of Lewis Autumn salmon
And the rivers are in excellent conditon for a day out:

Isle of Lewis salmon river
Good water for an Autumn salmon
Autumn salmon fishing on the Isle of Lewis
The main tourist season is long over and, in my view, many visitors miss out on the most interesting and dramatic periods in the life of the Lewis moorland and the Autumn is my favourite time to be on the moor as it offers dramatic views, dramatic colours and, I must confess, sometimes dramatic weather:

Autumn on the Lewis moorland
An unusual Autumnal view of the Barvas Hills
Although in Autumn we don't have the huge numbers of wild flowers that are seen in the spring and summer there are still lots of interesting plants on the moor and the moss can be just as interesting, and just as colourful:

Sphagnum on the Isle of Lewis moorland
Moss on the Isle of Lewis moorland
With the end of the fishing season approaching it is time for a last visit to a few spots. Some, especially salmon rivers, are well known and well fished but the remote moorland lochs are infrequently visited and it is possible I was the last visitor to some of these lochs, and also that I will be the next visitor when I decide to go back:

Isle of Lewis trout loch
Lunch on an Isle of Lewis trout loch
Isle of Lewis trout loch
Departing after fishing an Isle of Lewis trout loch