As some may be aware my girlfriend owns a cottage on the Isle of Lewis which she lets for self catering holiday accommodation and, well, it is a shame not to head up there when the opportunity presents itself. This year for the first time my parents decided to spend a few days on Lewis staying in Dollag's Cottage and they took some photos of the house with the wild flowers on the croft:
Having visitors does limit the trout fishing opportunities but even so it gives an excuse to do all the tourist things and my parents really enjoyed their few days and were pleased to manage to see two golden eagles and a white tailed sea eagle in their three days. They were also amazed to sit in the seat at the front of the cottage and have several corncrakes all calling to each other on the croft. After two weeks I'm getting a bit sick of hearing corncrakes!
Of course we just had to visit Losgaintir beach and it is, without question, a most remarkable place with views out to Amhuinnsuidhe and the North Harris Deer Forest:
We were visiting during the peak week of the year when the Heb Celt Music Festival fills the tent in Stornoway with over 5,000 people each night. We managed to see the Proclaimers and the Waterboys over two nights with the Proclaimers putting on a good solid set and getting everyone singing along and the Waterboys providing a well crafted set. Even so the beach at Losgaintir could hardly be described as crowded, though it had more people on it than I've ever seen before:
There hasn't, well up until last night, been any significant rain on Lewis for nearly 4 months now with residents being warned to conserve water and this has had a significant impact on the salmon fishing as the fish just can't get up the rivers. On one estate there are a lot of fish "trapped" in the sea pool which can neither move up nor get back out to sea and they have suspended fishing until they get some water to give the fish some options. This photo was taken of a little river that gets a good run of salmon and as you can see it is basically dry:
The trout lochs were less badly hit by lack of water but even so you could see that the "tide" had gone out a little on some and water levels were down on normal:
For me the appeal of Lewis is that there are literally thousands of lochs and it is a wonderful feeling to get up in the morning, spread the maps out on the floor and pick the loch or lochs for the day. Some days I don't walk very far and only fish a few lochs while other days the walk might be a bit further and the most lochs I've ever fished in a day was 11, none of which I'd ever been to before that day. Many lochs even come with a view:
Despite the lack of water the lochs were actually fishing quite well and while in some spots the trout don't get that big on other lochs the fish are good, dinner sized, fish that provide great sport for a day wandering the moor. While out on the moor I like to make some tea and take my lunch in a sheltered spot and old disused shielings make an ideal place to settle in and take up temporary residence. Some of these old buildings are very ancient indeed and the population used to move out to them in summer. This one by the sheep loch made a good spot to stop:
This is a photo of preparations for lunch inside the shieling pictured above, although this one is in an advanced state of disrepair some still have a good roof and some are even still in regular use:
With the moor being so dry I was being careful to light my little stove where there was no chance of causing a fire, and this beach on one loch provided a good safe spot:
Even with the dry weather there was the occasional shower doing the rounds though I never got wet myself:
While there might be other places where you can catch bigger trout there is just noting to beat the freedom of wandering the Lewis lochs with the fishing rod in hand while taking in the scenery, enjoying the wildlife and just chilling out knowing that it might have been years since anyone fished the loch you are casting over.
Alternatively, sometimes it is nice to just step out of the car and throw a leg over the fence to cast on a loch close to the road.