Things to do in Stornoway, Western Isles
The local economy is based on fishing, farming, tourism and the production of Harris Tweed.
Stornaway got its name when it was visited by the Vikings on their frequent raids. They called the area “Steering Bay” which gradually evolved into “Stornaway”.
Long ago it had an ancient castle belonging to the MacLeod clan which was taken over by the Duke of Argyle in the mid-16th century.
The islanders fiercely protected their shipping rights during the trade wars of the 1600s and rejected the attempts by James VI to establish the Scottish trading company “Fife Adventures” on the island.
Eventually the island was sold to Lord Leverhulme who gifted the parish of Stornaway to the people. The area has been administered by the Stornaway Trust ever since.
Present Day Stornaway
Stornaway stays in touch with the 21st century through its airport which has regular flights connecting it with Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness.
Stornaway has a sheltered harbour which is home to the local fishing fleet and the departure point for the Ullapool ferry which takes two hours 40 minutes to cross. It runs daily, but this is a controversial decision as the islands have a strict Sabbath tradition and almost all businesses on Lewis are closed on Sunday.
There is a modern sports complex and swimming pool, a town museum, art gallery and library.
Things to Do in Stornaway
There is a surprisingly good choice of things to do in Stornaway with a golf course, go karting and paintball attractions. Boat cruises around the islands regularly depart from behind the Lifeboat Station.
Lews Castle was once a gracious building in its own grounds. The neglected building is currently closed to visitors but the grounds are managed by the Stornaway Trust as a local park and there are some pleasant woodland walks.
The local Museum Nan Eilean has a fine collection of archaeological and historic objects along with old photographs and archives of the islands.