The Callanish Stones are the second most famous stones in the UK after the prehistoric Stonehenge and, of course, the far older stones of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
I was home for the weekend in Stornoway and and decided to see if there was now a tourist friendly route to cycle in Stornoway. Over the last few years the island has become more of a tourist attraction with cafes popping up in villages that previously only saw food when the weekly grocer’s van popper round.
I started the ride by heading north west in an anti-clockwise route but only because the wind was coming from the south west and I wanted it behind me when I finished. part from that the ride can be done in either direction.
First up (1), on the tourist trail is the Arnol blockhouse, a tradtional croft restored and rebuilt. But, ignore that and look in the field next door where you can find the local bus.
Next up (2), you have the Broch, an ancient stone keep/castle/no one is quite sure what it for. My dad always used to say there was a secret tunnel which led out of the Broch so the clans could escape. When we were young we would spend hours looking for the tunnel until, a few years later, when we were older, he admitted there was no tunnel because “why would they have a tunnel which the enemy could enter and bypass the walls?”. We said “what about Star Wars and the Death Star, that had a tunnel?” because, when you are 10, history and science fiction are exactly the same thing.
After the Broch, head to the Callanish Stones (3) and the 15% climb to get up to it. Thankfully the climb is less than 20 metres.
(The Callanish Stones are, of course, not as good as the Calla Stones because the Callanish Stones are only Callan-ish…)
The stones are fantastic and only ruined by the fact that they are completely pointless. No one knows what they are or what they do or why they are there. It’s a mystery and one that I have to say I SOLVED!
Yes, I know what the Callanish Stones are for because, earlier in the ride I passed another stone and it had a sign beside it.
And I can’t believe that no one has put two and two together and realised that if that one stone can be a scratching stone then the Callanish Stones must have been a pre-historic cat sanctuary and they needed lots of stones for cats to scratch. I will write to Tony Robinson and get Time Team on the case!
The final stretch (4) is the old road from Stornoway. Don’t carry onto the main road as it’s usually busy with people driving to town and there’s nothing particularly scenic to cut straight up. Instead the back road leads you up to the top of the moor and, in the summer, you’ll find people cutting peat.
Overall, there’s not many hills but it is a very choppy route. There’s some great views of both the Hebridean moor and the North Atlantic when you get to the west coast.