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Purple Orchids

Put out a hand and touch one of the standing stones at Callanish and you make a connection that reaches back thousands of years, sending a shiver down your spine.

The Standing Stones at Callanish, tall, slender slabs of silvery Lewisian gneiss, are the enduring legacy of a long-vanished and mysterious community, who, in about 1800BC, laid out these stones according to precise astronomical observations, aligning the main avenue with the point at which the full moon of midsummer sets.

The tranquil islands of Lewis and Harris are blessed with an abundance of archaeological remains as later settlers also left their mark.




These islands are a paradise for the amateur archaeologist with Neolithic cairns, Bronze Age standing stones, Iron Age houses, Norse mills and Blackhouses from a couple of centuries ago.

We will tour a succession of sites in the company of a local specialist guide, from the rolling moorlands and sweeping beaches of Lewis in the north to the dramatic mountains of Harris in the south, following a time line that will take us from the stone age to the space age.

Our four night stay in Stornoway will provide an insight to modern island life, where the ancient Gaelic culture is as vibrant as ever and celebrated in music and song.

Available departure dates and prices


Put out a hand and touch one of the standing stones at Callanish and you make a connection that reaches back thousands of years, sending a shiver down your spine.

Day 1

We depart from our designated pick-up points and head north, stopping en-route for refreshments.  We will continue to Ullapool in time to catch the early-evening Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Stornoway, which takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. On arrival in Lewis we will transfer the short distance to our hotel, the   3-star Cabarfeidh Hotel.   Dinner will be served on arrival.

Day 2

This morning after breakfast we skirt round the head of East Loch Roag and cross to the island of Great Bernera, where we visit the Bosta Iron Age Village. These stone structures from the 7th - 8th century were uncovered in Bosta thanks to a period of heavy storms, in much the same way that Skara Brae on Orkney came to light. A replica Iron Age house gives an insight into an ancient way of life here on a particularly beautiful beach.

From here we will travel to the west coast of Lewis for a visit to the 5,000 year old Standing Stones of Callanish.  Undoubtedly the most remarkable antiquity in the Western Isles, this collection of almost 50 stones forms a well-marked megalithic avenue, comprising 19 monoliths, ending in a circle of 13 stones, with a great cairn at the centre and superb views beyond. Entry to the Visitor Centre is included.

We then return to Stornoway, where we will visit the Lewis Loom Centre, where we shall have a guided tour and lecture on the history of Harris Tweed. Dinner will be served at our hotel in the evening.

Day 3

After breakfast this morning we travel south to Harris, which in contrast to the rolling moorland of Lewis is more mountainous and fringed by superb white sandy beaches. Here we visit St Clement’s Church at Rodel, built on top of an earlier structure in the 16th century by Alasdair Crotach, 8th chief of the Macleods of Harris and Dun Bheagan. The church tombs are among the most spectacular in Scotland.  We then visit the Genealogy Centre at Northton, a chance to get to know some of the factors which have had an influence on the development of the various Island communities, while for the more serious student there is a vast resource of detailed source information from different parts of the Hebrides.  We continue to the ancient standing stone known as Clach Mhic Leoid (MacLeod’s Stone) enjoys a superb situation overlooking the Isle of Taransay, which was the setting for the BBC TV series ‘Castaway’.  Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.

Day 4

Today after enjoying your full Scottish breakfast, we will have a chance to discover the stunning scenery of Lewis as we take a journey through time from the Bronze and Iron Ages to the days of Norse settlement and the more recent past.   Our visits include the exceptionally well-preserved and imposing Carloway Broch, a circular, dry-stone fortified tower, dating back some 2,000 years; the Black Houses at Gearannan, typical of the crofting settlements which until relatively recently were found throughout the Western Isles; the Norse Mill at Shawbost, where barley grain was ground into meal by Viking settlers; and the standing stone Clach an Trushal, at over 6m one of the tallest in Scotland. We return to our hotel for dinner.

Day 5

Sadly today after breakfast we must check out of the hotel.  This morning you will have free time to explore Stornoway, the only town in the Western Isles.  About 8,000 people live in this bustling town, crowned by Lewis Castle and the lovely wooded Castle grounds. In the early afternoon we will catch the ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool. On arrival in Ullapool we will return to your original pick up point as quickly and comfortably as possible.

Included in the price

  • 4 nights’ dinner, bed and full breakfast at the 3-star Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway. All rooms have private facilities
  • Return ferry crossings Ullapool/Stornoway
  • Comfortable coaching throughout. Rail/air travel and overnight accommodation in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness or Perth before or after the tour available on request
  • Visits to Callanish, Bosta Iron Age House, The Broch of Carloway, Lewis Loom Centre, Norse Mill at Shawbost, Gearrannan Black House Centre, Standing Stones, St. Clement’s church at Rodel and the Geneaology Centre
  • Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager


Not included (per person)

  • Single supplement                   £100.00
  • Insurance                                £18.50 (under 65); £37.00 (65-74); £55.50 (75-90)
  • Rail/air travel and overnight accommodation in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness or Perth before or after the tour available on request


Departure points and times:

Depart Return
Glasgow (Millennium Hotel, George Square) 0915 2345
Edinburgh (Marriott Hotel, Glasgow Road) 1030 2230
Dunfermline (outside Fife College) 1100 2200
Kinross (Kinross Services) 1115 2145
Perth (Bus stop on Canal Street, Tay Street end) 1130 2130
Inverness (outside Jury's Inn Hotel) 1500 1830
Subject to minimum numbers, the following pick-ups will be served by feeder coach and passengers will join/leave the main coach in Perth :
Montrose (outside Railway Station) 1020 2240
Arbroath (Railway Station) 1040 2220
Dundee (outside Discovery Point) 1100 2200

Please note pick-up points are subject to minimum numbers and all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure

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We thoroughly enjoyed the archaeological tour to the Outer Hebrides, the driver and guide made the holiday a great success

Mr and Mrs Sutherland, Dundee

The staff at our hotel on Islay were young and keen, very pleasant and helpful indeed.

Mr and Mrs Turner

Jimmy the driver was impeccable and fun - his driving skills gave us great confidence on the narrow roads through Royal Deeside.

Bob Guthrie, Broughty Ferry
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