Travel tales

On the edge of the world at the Butt of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

On the edge of the world at the Butt of Lewis

At the far northern tip of the Isle of Lewis you’ll find the Butt of Lewis – the furthest north you can get in the Outer Hebrides, and what feels like the edge of the world. If you carry on north from here then your next stop would be the Arctic, go west and it’s Newfoundland in Canada. On a sunny day when the sea is calm, the endless views out into the ocean from its steep 60- to 80-foot-high cliffs take your breath away.

Read more: 9 reasons to love the Isles of Lewis and Harris

Butt of Lewis rock formations, Outer Hebrides

The rocks which make up these cliffs were formed 3000 million years ago and are some of the oldest in Europe. You can see the layers and folds in the rocks, formed through the twisting of the earth’s surface multiplied by millions of years of heat and pressure. Seabirds make their nests in the cliff edge and wildflowers grow wherever they can find a spot to root. But watch out on a stormy day, where it’s more than your breath that might be taken away. This stretch of coastline gets pounded by waves and winds up to 100 miles per hour – the Guinness Book of Records once rated it the windiest place in Britain.

Butt of Lewis lighthouse, Outer Hebrides

There to guard passing ships on a stormy night is the Butt of Lewis lighthouse. This red brick lighthouse is a bit unusual in this part of the world – most of the lighthouses in the Outer Hebrides are painted white. It was built in the 1860s back when there were no roads out here, so all the materials to built it had to be brought in by boat. And if it wasn’t already obvious they needed a lighthouse here, it was made even more evident when one of the boats carrying its building materials was wrecked on the rocks as it tried to land!

Butt of Lewis rock formations, Outer Hebrides

The lighthouse took three years to built and stands at 30 metres high. There was still no road access until the 1960s, so the lighthouse keeper and his family had to be as self-sufficient as possible, especially in the winter when you never knew when the next supply boat would make it in. I couldn’t imagine how bleak it would be out here in the middle of a storm, battered by Atlantic winds with waves crashing around you.

Butt of Lewis lighthouse, Outer Hebrides

It was only in 1998 that the lighthouse was finally mechanised and didn’t need a lighthouse keeper any more. Now it’s all run remotely from a central office in Scotland, and road access has made it a lot easier to reach the Butt of Lewis. But it’s still kept it’s wild beauty, with pockets of wildflowers, craggy rocks and deep blue waters – though with sheer drops each way you look, make sure you’ve got a good head for heights.

Butt of Lewis rock formations, Outer Hebrides

The details

The Butt of Lewis is located at the far northerly point of the Isle of Lewis. It’s about 19 miles from the island’s largest town, Stornaway. The nearest town is Eoropie, about a mile to the south. It’s also worth a stop off at Port of Ness, a pretty harbour town with a white sandy beach that’s about three miles away.

Port Stoth beach, Isle of Lewis

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Exploring the Butt of Lewis cliffs and lighthouse – the far northern tip of the Isle of Lewis, the limit of Scotland's Outer Hebrides, and what feels like the edge of the world #IsleofLewis #OuterHebrides #Scotland

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Kerin
    September 19, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Beautiful and haunting! Thanks Lucy.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 20, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks Kerin, glad you liked it!

  • Reply
    Darlene
    September 19, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Wow!! What amazing scenery. Great pictures.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 20, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      The landscapes up there were just stunning!

  • Reply
    Vicky @ A Backpack Full of Adventures
    September 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Gorgeous photos! Thanks for sharing, Lucy!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 20, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks Vicky, glad you liked them!

  • Reply
    Katie MacLeod
    September 20, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Love these photos, Lucy – you were brave, going that close to the edge! I usually linger near the lighthouse while visiting friends and family go off to take pictures!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 20, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      My mother-in-law isn’t much of a fan of heights and kept warning us to stay away from the edge! I’m ok with heights but there were some people right on the edge that were making me nervous, I need a metre or two’s gap!

  • Reply
    Ricky
    September 20, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Such dramatic land formations. However, you’re not quite correct in saying there’s nothing between Lewis and the arctic. Heading directly north you’ll hit the Danish Faroe Islands before reaching the arctic circle.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 20, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      I did wonder that too but apparently the angle means you’d just miss them – it’s close either way though!

  • Reply
    GlobalGrasshopper (@globalgrasshopr)
    September 21, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Oh wow gorgeous photos, makes me feel like I’m actually there! It’s a beautiful part of the country!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 21, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks – it is such a stunning place!

  • Reply
    restlessjo
    September 25, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Fabulous! My kind of place 🙂 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy
      September 26, 2016 at 11:32 am

      Love the wild beauty up there.

  • Reply
    MummyTravels
    October 1, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    Stunning photos- the colours of that sea is just amazing.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      October 3, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      It’s gorgeous up there – so wild too!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jones
    October 3, 2016 at 11:21 am

    This is my kind of place – I love the grass covered cliffs and craggy rocks teetering into a deep blue sea. Add in a lighthouse and I’m hooked!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      October 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      There’s something about lighthouses isn’t there, I’m a sucker for them too!

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