2018 Holiday Season Photos.

With the main 2018 holiday season over it is time to put together a few photos and even a short video to let you see what we got up to around Dollag's Cottage over this past year. Due to circumstances, the cottage doesn't have a full time photographer, there aren't as many photos this year as there simply wasn't time and it is also the case that almost all the photos were taken when fishing as it was then that I had time to snap a picture or two. With this in mind it is worthwhile to take a look at the photos taken in the area last year, and on previous years, to get a better view of some of the things that might interest you:

2014 photos

2015 photos

2016 photos

2017 photos

Last year I included a little bit of video on this page and it was quite popular with visitors so I'm going to do something similar this year. The video is about four and a half minutes long and, as with the photos, was mostly shot while fishing so it doesn't include much in the way of the more popular tourist destinations on the island. Also due to time constraints most of it was shot outside the main holiday season, quite a lot was shot in January with the majority of the rest being shot in April or October. So, here's what is in the video: Waves at Dalmore Beach, view of the cottage, Dalmore beach, A view of the cottage and coastline from Shawbost Beach, Dollanna on Shawbost beach in January, some January views of the hills and lochs around the village, The Norse Mill and its stream, Dalbeg Beach, a surfer at Dalmore and views of the coastline, some fishing on local rivers and lochs with views of the lochs and a salmon being returned, some walking to fishing on a nearby loch, a few birds spotted while out and about including the eagle and divers, some local rivers and heather by a loch, Dalbeg Beach and coastline, walking on Dalbeg beach, and finally walking on Shawbost Beach with Dollag's Cottage in the background.

Dollag's Cottage @ 7 South Shawbost
In January I spent some time having a wee walk along the line of hills that reach out into the moor from the village. This makes for a nice winter walk as there are good views and some old shielings to use for shelter for the stove when making tea. There are also some great glacial erratics along the ridge and it is interesting to think about how they came to be dropped on the hill at Shawbost. You can't beat an old shieling for making your tea:

In the Autumn I walked the same line of hills looking for sheep and managed to snap this photo, really I should have waited a little longer to catch the sunset but there simply wasn't time and I had to keep going so this is as good as it gets on the internet; you'll just have to come and see the sunset for yourself:

Anyhow, back to January, Dollanna took a walk on the shore at Shawbost on a lovely January day and we enjoyed taking in the view. The beach here at Shawbost is just a short walk from the cottage, as you can see in the video above, and is a favourite of visitors :

The beach and a line of big stones divides the sea from the freshwater loch in the village:

The winter can produce some great sunrises and this was taken one morning from Dollanna's own back garden:

Even in winter some of the other beaches in the area are also worth a visit though you'd be brave to actually get in the water:

As previously mentioned the glacial erratics can be worth looking at as many are balanced on smaller stones and it is interesting to try and work out how that happened:

Lewis doesn't get much snow or frost as the sea keeps the winter temperatures reasonably moderate but this year a sheltered local loch was frozen over for a little while plus there was a little fall of snow on the tops of the Harris Hills:

Time flies past and it doesn't seem long after New Year until there are lambs on the croft and the longer and warmer days of Spring are arriving. This year we went along to the Norse Mill - you can see it from the upstairs windows of the cottage and the cottage is in the background in this photo:

The mill is of a very, very old design which may have come from China. The water wheel is mounted horizontally rather than vertically and these mills were in use in living memory:

The photos above taken in January showed the loch in the village in the winter and this is it in the Spring when the grass is starting to grow, this burn runs from the loch directly to the sea and the otter family is frequently seen in the burn or hunting for fish in the sea nearby:

Over the years cottage guests have enjoyed taking a walk to the beach and loch in the evening and it is at this time the otters seem most active so guests enjoy getting to watch them, this is a view of the village and loch taken in early Spring 2018 while having a little walk:

Once we are into spring and the leaves are starting to appear on the island in the Island Pool thoughts start to turn to fishing. The Spring is said to be the best time for brown trout in the Hebrides and it certainly seems that a lot of the larger fish will be taken early in the season, occasionally I would also head out for a Spring salmon:

This is also the time to be getting the trout flies out and head to the loch for a bit of sport with the brown trout, they were a bit slow to get started in 2018 but were still great fun early on and they quickly improved to give us a great brown trout season:

As the season went on the lochs produced really fat trout of good quality and while I didn't have any really big fish this year I had fish to 1.5lb on most days out and that is a good wild trout and, of course, I had a few "big ones that got away:"

Our fish are all wild and there is no stocking or other "management" of the brown trout so they have been in their lochs since the end of the ice age and they very rarely see an angler, in fact many lochs are not fished from one year to the next. In September I took some visiting anglers to a remote loch for a cast and we had a fantastic day out with bright sun, and torrents of rain, and wonderful rainbows. We also had a good catch of trout and one of the visitors lost a much bigger fish. In the past three years I've been to this loch twice and one other angler was out last year so in as far as we know it has been fished three times in three years:

A resident of the village in years gone past Dr. Norman Morrison (or Tormod an t-Sẹladair as he is known locally) had a shieling at a loch some distance out into the moor. The shieling is somewhat famous as Tormod was a keen photographer and so photos of it taken in the early 1900s exist. Tormod was also the leading expert on the Scottish adder and a founding member of the Scottish Police Federation. He died in 1949 but I'd always promised myself a cup of tea in his shieling so in late September I took myself out there for a cast, a walk, and a cup of tea. It seemed likely that no one had a cup of tea out here in a century so that made the adventure all the more interesting:

I got the stove going within the shelter of the walls of the shieling and it provided an ideal base for my fishing for the day:

As well as being out and about at trout I also took a few days after sea trout and salmon and had a few visitors out for a day or two as well, some days we got great conditions but on others the conditions were very difficult indeed:

We are very lucky in that there are lots of options for a cast and there are some areas that depend on tidal conditions for their fishing. This spot is usually all dry land but on the big tides, when the fishing is good, it floods and it is necessary to know the ground very well and to understand the effects of the tide and the level of water in the river if the fishing is not to become very dangerous indeed. It can, however, provide excellent sport for sea trout and even the occasional salmon:

We also have plenty of rivers to chose from, with lots of excellent water:

Usually I don't really start into the salmon until the brown trout season is over, with the exception of the very occasional day, and that doesn't really leave many days remaining. We do get a small run of late fish on some rivers but for the most part this means that by the time I'm getting going after salmon the fish tend to be residents who have been in the river for a while, Despite this in 2018 I had great sport and a few days after the late season fish. Some of these images were supposed to be me paying a fish but they didn't work out too well as the salmon is a strong fighter who is reluctant to sit around while you juggle the rod in one hand and the camera in the other:

Sorry that there aren't more "tourist" type photos this year but circumstances were such that I just snapped a few photos mostly while fishing, if you want beaches and sunsets and similar be sure to take a look at the 2017 images and the little video on that page. It is also the case that most of the photos this year were taken in January, April or October and there are none at all of our glorious summer weather so, on reflection, that was a bit of an oversight on my part. However to round things off here are a few random images including some of moss, my interest in moss and lichen and similar stuff has become something of a joke but the moss in particular is extremely interesting as these are the plants that build our moorland and provide the building blocks for most of our ecosystem here on Lewis: