There have been people living on Lewis for a very long time indeed and in the past it had a rather colourful and turbulent history. Many of the place names you will encounter are Gaelic forms of Norse words for the simple reason that it isn't so very long since the Vikings moved out. The visitor will note that many lochs have names ending with "bhat" or "vat" as it would be written and pronounced in English and this is the Gaelic version of the Norse term used to indicate a loch. When on Lewis history, and prehistory, is everywhere both in the names and also in the very many mills, stone circles, standing stones and in the defensive structures often referred to in English as a dun, or fort or broch. Perhaps one of the most well preserved is at Carloway, about 10 minutes drive from Dollag's Cottage, and the visitor has easy access to climb up and admire the stone work. Not as well preserved, but none the less interesting, is the broch on the loch in the neighbouring village of Bragar. The loch comes right up to the road side and the artificial island and the remains of the broch are clearly and easily seen from the road and can be visited when the water is low or with wellington boots. The name of the loch, of course, means the loch of the fort. For the brave the dun on Loch Barabhat on the island of Bernera, about half an hour or so from the cottage, is worth a visit. Although Bernera is an island there is a bridge taking you over from mainland Lewis so access is simple and, as a bonus, there is a stone circle right at the Bernera end of the bridge. The route out to the fort on Loch Barabhat has been way marked but even so a map might be useful for anyone planning to make the trip. On arrival at the fort it will be found that it is located on an artificial island but that there is a narrow stone causeway leading to the island. Any visitor brave enough to attempt the causeway will soon find that the clear waters of the loch on either side become very deep indeed and when the stones are wet and slippery the whole thing can become something of an adventure. Some may find it too much of an adventure and chose to picnic on the shore of the loch, the sensible decision, and they will be rewarded by an excellent view of the fort plus some good views of the Uig hills. This loch can produce good trout fishing so it is always worth considering taking the fishing rod as well.
Dollag's Cottage @ 7 South Shawbost
The broch at Carloway
A close up view of the fort on Loch Barabhat
The fort and causeway of Loch Barabhat
A frozen Loch an Duna at Bragar with the setting sun catching a snow shower moving in from the moor. The broch can be seen centre left appearing as a large pile of stones