How do I get to the Isle of Lewis? Has anyone been there?
I've not been to Lewis, but either flying or ferry will get you there.
Lots of people have been there, including those that call it home -- it's not uninhabited.
My preference is the Ullapool-Stornoway ferry. CalMac runs the route. You can also run up the back way from Uig (Skye) to Tarbert (different town from the one on the Kintyre) -- it's been so long since I've done it that way that I forget who operates the ferry -- and it might even be seasonal.
The Stornoway route is twice daily and you have to be lined up either an hour or a half-hour ahead of time.
When I went there we took the Ullapool Ferry, which was a beautiful ferry ride. We came back on the ferry from Tarbert to Uig on Skye. Both were were early morning ferrys. The one from Tarbert was early enough to see the sun rise. Skye coming over the horizon in the morning light is amazing. Looking back toward Loch Broom and Inverpolly on mainland on the way to Stornoway was equally wonderful.
I went with a small group tour. If I were to go again, I would definitely have a car.
Thanks Pam for the advise. What did you do on the way to Ullpool? We will be coming from Inverness. Where did you stay to catch the early ferry?
There's two hotels, the Caledonian and the Ferry Boat. By looks, they both probably run about a hundred and fifty bucks. I've stayed in neither, but eaten at the Caledonian. Both are within a block or so of the car marshaling area. There's also batches of B&Bs.
Being cheap, I take the late boat, eat supper on it, and sleep in Stornaway where it's cheaper. It also gets the traveling, eating, and checking-in logistics out of the way late in the day when there's not much else to do.
You can cover a lot of ground if you work at it. I've left Kirkwall, caught the first Orkney ferry and still made the late Ullapool ferry with a walk along the way and still had time for a beer after I stashed the car in the marshaling yard.
Coming out of Inverness and taking a morning boat the next day just begs for a run down the Caledonian Canal and a swing north after Fort William, especially for a first trip. If you use the back roads after Fort William to avoid double-running the A-62 you'll have about six hours of road time with plenty of stops and about half the distance on roads that most tourists never see. The straight shot up out of Inverness takes a bit over an hour -- it's pretty boring and I'd only use it if I were hustling to the late ferry after doing something else.
What's between Inverness and Ullapool is beautiful scenery. There are some waterfalls.
The trip from Inverness to Ullapool is a minimum of 90 minutes. The ferry actually leaves at 10:45 AM. I would recommend getting there a half hour ahead of time. You need a reservation. There is a later sailing that will take you out to Stornoway. When we did the morning sailing we had enough time to go out and see the Butt of Lewis--dramatic cliffs, lighthouse, ocean etc. :) We then drove south and stayed near Calloway Broch. Here's the CalMac link.
Now, you could go the day before. I would do that and go for a walk in the Ullapool hills. One of my favorite woolen shops is there. The Ceilidh Place is a great restaurant. There's a bookstore there as well.
Looks like you've had some good advice. I also hope to get to Lewis, one day.
Laura, you should definitely go! It was one of the best trips I did. I loved the scenery, the walks, the history. We saw a weaver at work and got some tweed. :)