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The Chatelaine's Scottish Castles

Lews Castle

Isle of Lewis

This light brown, mock-Tudor folly was built in the 19th century by Sir James Matheson who purchased the island in 1844 with part of the fortune he accumulated from the opium trade in the Far East. The surrounding trees and greenery were planted in thousands of tons of soil that he had shipped over from the mainland. In 1924, only a few years after buying Lewis, Lord Leverhulme gifted the building back to the people of Stornoway.

During the Second World War, the castle was used as a naval hospital. Later it housed a technical college, but has remained empty since 1987.

Visitors are not allowed inside the castle, but are free to walk around the extensive grounds which feature over 100 species of tree. The Woodland Centre houses exhibitions, a tea room, gift shop and toilets. Open Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm. Tel: 01851 706916. From the grounds, the view stretches across the harbour to the main part of town and the start of the Eye Peninsula. On top of Gallows Hill in the castle grounds, there's a chambered cairn which has been partly obscured by a modern cairn (map reference NB417323).
Guided walks in and around Stornoway and the Castle Grounds are operated by the Stornoway Trust Ranger Service (tel: 01851 705 042). Check with the tourist office to confirm details.

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