My dear old mum and dad live on the Isle of Lewis, and (before Covid interupted everything, of course) we are lucky enough to get up to the Island to visit them at least once or twice a year. This half term we visited for the first time in 18 months, and it was wonderful! Not only was it great to see our lovely family, but we also had incredible weather meaning that we could spend much of the week soaking up the sun on the beach and exploring the rambling and wild countryside of the Island.
(You can read our top tips for driving in Scotland, up to the Island, here)
If you’re looking for something a little different to spend your UK staycation this year, then I really couldn’t recommend the Isle of Lewis more highly: and whilst these kinds of remote and rural holiday destinations tend to draw an older crowd, it is actually a brilliant place to travel with kids too. I’ll be writing individual posts about all of our favourite places, but in the meantime here’s a quick overview of all our favourite, family-friendly activities on the Isle of Lewis:
Visiting the Callanish Stones
The Callanish standing stones are one of my very favourite parts of visiting the island. The Callanish (Calanais) Standing Stones are thought to have been built 5,000 years ago, meaning that they pre-date the more famous Stone Henge.
Access to the stones is free and unlike Stone Henge, you can touch them, walk amongst them, and get as close as you like to them. The boys were using them to play hide and seek, whilst the grown-ups were marvelling at how and why they were built, and how the natives of the time got them here.
You can access the stones 24/7, 365 days a year meaning that there are no limits on when you can visit the stones alone. If you wish to go to the visitor centre, exhibition or café then this is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-4pm. There is no need to pre-book unless you’re visiting as part of a large group, and due to Covid the café is currently serving a limited menu. You can find out more about the visitor centre and cafe here.
Jumping Waves At Dalbeg Beach
Dalbeg beach is a lovely small bay and beach on the west side of Lewis, and the freshwater of the nearby loch flows through little streams into the saltwater of the seas, creating an idyllic place for kids to play and explore. Using this freshwater running across the sand, the boys managed to build a sandcastle complete with a moat! Because Dalbeg is incredibly close to the Callanish stones, you can visit both places in one day; we visited the stones in the morning and then hopped over to Dalbeg beach for lunch and a good play; mum and dad packed a barbeque, which they cooked whilst the boys were building sandcastles with their dad, then we all took a break to munch on burgers and salad.
The beauty of this stunning beach really does speak for itself: the sea is so blue (although it’s cold, hence the boys in their wetsuits) and the waves were perfect for brave surfers or bodyboarders. I could have sat looking at the views and taking photos all day.
Playing in the Dunes at the Eoropie Beach
What is a visit to anywhere with kids without a trip to the park? Eoropie Dunes park is situated in the north of the Isle of Lewis and forms part of the community-owned Galson Estate; it is huge and beautifully set up, with the play equipment sympathetically set into the natural dune formations. This is the boys favourite place to play on the whole island; and they have great taste, because the park has recently been awarded a blue flag award.
Like almost everything on the island, the park is also situated close to the beach; Eoropie beach offers a vast expanse of beautiful sand, and the sea is relatively shallow for a long way, if you catch the tide right. This is also one of the more easy to access beaches that we visited, as you don’t have to walk over an avalanche of rocks in order to reach the sand (though there are some rocks and the obligatory fresh water stream for the boys to paddle in!)
I loved this beach because everything was just so easy; you could spend the whole day in Eoropie, hopping between the sandy beach and the park.
Bowling in Sports Nis
When you think of a small island you don’t tend to think of ‘typical’ kids activities, but the Isle of Lewis boasts the cinema, bowling alley and a soft play centre (this is currently closed due to Covid requirements, but is due to reopen soon. The only ten pin bowling alley on the island is in the ports Nis leisure centre; as Nis is the village where my parents live, this was the perfect place to visit on the only windy day of our trip!
There are only two lanes in the small bowling room, but due to Covid requirements they are only letting out one lane at a time, meaning we had the whole place to ourselves. It was a lot of fun, even if the boys got a little competitive! We played two games and spent £30, which is considerably cheaper than our local bowling alley in Norwich. We’re big fans of bowling (mum and dad used to be in a league) so it was a nice way to while away an afternoon.
As well as all of these activities, we also visited every park we came across, ate fish and chips in Stornaway, walked along Stornaway harbour, and explored the many small, unnamed beaches that you can visit by driving off the beaten path on almost any part of the island: There was so much more we could have done, but we just didn’t have the time to fit everything in!
We would never have thought of exploring the Isle of Lewis if mum and dad hadn’t moved there (we always look further afield for our holiday destinations) but now we have fallen in love with the place. Have you ever visited the Isle of Lewis and how did you find it? If you haven’t visited would you like to?