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holiday cottages Lewis - The Lewis Longhouse luxury holiday home

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Vernon's review of The Longhouse
Self Catering Lewis


holiday cottages Lewis - The Longhouse - sleeps 4

As we cross from the Scottish mainland we're treated to a stunning aerial view of Lewis, Harris, the Uists and Benbecula and smaller islands beyond, before the plane descends, passing over tiny green islets and convoluted peninsulae fringed with sand - no sign of a runway as we fall lower and lower, until suddenly there's bright strip of tarmac stretching right to the edge of the beach and with a slight bump, we slow to a halt at Stornoway airport.

Called by the Vikings 'Steering Bay', Stornoway is still a lively harbour town, the hub of Lewis and full of pubs, hotels, great restaurants and cafes, live music and shops selling art and handicrafts such as jewellery and Harris Tweed. We are to spend several evenings here, meeting new people and enjoying the music and local delicacies (including the famous black pudding) but for now we gather a few essential supplies and head off in our hired car, arriving at the Longhouse just fifteen minutes later.

Over five generations, two ancient stone, thatched blackhouses and a whitehouse have sat on the croft at 40 Coll and the MacLeod family worked hard to make a living from the land. Now Linda MacLeod Brown and her husband Paul have taken on part of the old family croft (now decrofted) and with vision, patience and perseverance, built a stunning modern version of a longhouse, the first double A rated environmentally friendly home in the Western Isles.

With its neat outline, clean lines and large windows, the Longhouse is bright and modern yet retains a hint of the old longhouses in its shape. I love the double height living area where light floods in and stairs lead up to the mezzanine sitting room/work area, with sunny balcony and gorgeous views over the nearby beach and bright blue sea. All the rooms have lovely views and are light and airy and we are spoilt for choice of places to sit and relax or enjoy a drink or a bite to eat. The south facing dining area opens onto spacious decking and is a favourite spot to linger over a pre or post prandial drink and watch the tide turn, whatever the weather.

I have to admit that sometimes I deliberately choose a holiday home with no WiFi or 'phone reception, forcing myself to relax and have a proper break.This time though I'm with an archaeologist friend and we have some research in mind so when searching for holiday cottages on Lewis, we were looking for all the mod cons. The Longhouse is in a quiet spot and equipped with a neat workstation which has been perfect for recording our findings and up- and downloading at the end of the day.

In between visiting mystical stone circles and ancient cairns, we've found plenty of time to enjoy some of the wonderful sandy beaches and to make some quite strenuous forays into the hinterland, where we felt we'd really earned the marvelous views and our lunch! I can recommend the Heritage Trail from Tolsta to Lionel, which takes in impressive sea stacks, Lord Leverhulme's 'Bridge to Nowhere' and an eighteenth century ruined chapel. And what better place to return to after a long day's walking than our very own luxury longhouse, where hot baths and a warming dram with a wonderful view await us.
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Further details about this accommodation

The Longhouse is a substantial and luxurious house designed to be a home from home.

Double–height living area, two large bedrooms, two bathrooms and a quiet relaxing area with viewing balcony and office zone with wi-fi, desk, monitor and printer. Bedrooms face south to make the most of the views. The master suite with superking bed, has a wet-room style en-suite. The second bedroom (superking or twin) sits across from the bathroom which offers a relaxing bath and separate shower.

Open plan living/dining/kitchen area with large windows and glass doors opening south onto a large deck, perfect for relaxing on sunny days or for stargazing at night. Underfloor heating keeps oak floors warm underfoot and a multi-fuel stove keeps you cosy even in the wildest weather. The open plan living area is spacious, with the huge windows bringing the outside in. In the centre of the kitchen/dining area stands the island unit with a unique, hand-crafted worktop crafted from beech trees from Lews Castle grounds, fallen in storms. The kitchen area is well stocked, with induction hob, ovens, wine chillers and fridge, oh and a dishwasher to make tidying up a little easier.

The house is fully equipped to the highest standards with all you would expect to make your stay comfortable. Broadband wi-fi and laptop are available if you wish to access the outside world along with LCD smart TV and music systems. The utility/boot room is by the entrance lobby, and the garage has plenty of hanging space and storage for wet, outdoor gear.

Our top five things to do while staying at The Longhouse
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The Isle of Lewis has many beautiful white, sandy beaches to explore and you will not run out of choice or quiet spots. Close to the Longhouse are the lovely beaches at Coll and Tolsta (walk from here over the Bridge to Nowhere). Venture a little further north and you'll find the beach at Ness has a fantastic play park as well as a picturesque harbour and indoor and outdoor activities to keep the family amused.

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There are walks of all levels to be enjoyed in the area, from strolls along beaches or in the parkland around Lews Castle, to strenuous hikes in the hills. The northern half of the island is flat, fringed by some magnificent beaches which provide excellent walking, while the southern half of the island is more dramatic with remote, rugged hill ranges around Uig and the Pairc peninsula which reward their visitors with remarkable views.

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The Outer Hebrides are remarkably rich in all forms of wildlife and birdlife , particularly in late spring and early summer when the machair is at its peak. Among the animal species to see are the otter, red deer and common grey seals. Golden and Sea Eagles can be spotted regularly and rare corncrakes can often be heard in the reeds in front of the Longhouse.

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Lewis is littered with places of historic interest well worth a visit: Callanish standing stones; the Blackhouse at Gearrannan where there is a museum and cafe as well as well renovated blackhouses; 2000-year-old Carloway Broch; Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln; Lews Castle - you can explore the grounds and enjoy refreshments in the Woodlands Centre cafe and there are plans to open to the public in 2015 following refurbishment.

self catering scotland good food It isn't hard to find a good place to eat, with freshly caught seafood and local produce on offer widely. For tasty, imaginative dishes and a lovely ambience try Digby Chick in Stornoway. The Solas Restaurant at Cabarfeidh Hotel serves a contemporary fusion of traditional Scottish recipes, classic cuisine and world specialities. The Woodlands Centre in the grounds of Lews Castle does excellent lunches and the Library Cafe in Stornoway offers lovely teas. Also well worth a visit is the Boatshed in the Royal Hotel - lovely views from here.