Sir James Matheson bought the Isle of Lewis for £190,000 in 1844. Yes – the whole island.
This was a lot of money back then. I wish I could say he earnt it legitimately but he earned his money through the sale of opium. He was a drug baron like Pablo Escobar but without all the murder and cocaine. Maybe not all drug barons are bad but I’ve seen a lot of Narco’s episodes on Netflix. It doesn’t paint drug barons in a good light.
Matheson did not immediately endear himself to locals. According to Stornoway Historical Society, the creation of the castle grounds involved the clearance of tenants and the re-routing of public roads. But over the next three decades, he spent a further £200,000 on island improvements such as roads, schools and harbours in an attempt to kickstart the island economy. So, maybe he wasn’t all bad.
The castle took six years to complete but the surrounding land took even longer. He imported trees to turn the area into extensive woodland. The area is now a great place for walking and running. The grounds are accessible to anyone courtesy of Lord Leverhulme. He bought the Isle of Lewis from Matheson. He had many ambitious plans, some of which were followed through, but most collapsed. He only owned the island for a few years before he gifted the Castle and grounds to the people of Stornoway.
The castle was closed for many years due to disrepair but in recent years it has been renovated and is now a popular hotel https://www.lews-castle.co.uk/
I have to rate it highly. Its my home running/biking/walking place and full of wonderful memories and experiences.
There are a few entrances and car parks and I’ve never had any issues using them
There is a Cafe in the castle and in the castle grounds. https://www.facebook.com/TheWoodlandsCafe/
100% fire track gravel roads
100M of elevation.