Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village sits on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean

We recently published a post about the Callanish Standing Stones, which are only a short drive away from our B&B. Another popular tourist site, located just 10 minutes further north from the Stones is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village.

The Blackhouse Village is only a short drive from the Callanish Standing Stones

This village consists of 9 thatched-roofed stone cottages, which have been meticulously restored to give visitors an idea of what life there was like in bygone times. The entry on the relevant page of the website of Undiscovered Scotland gives more information:

“modern" settlement here dates back to the 1600s. For over three hundred years people eked out a living here; lived, died, paid their rents, or were quickly evicted if they didn't. [...] The blackhouses you see in Gearrannan today, though seeming much older, date back only to the end of the 1800s.

Visitors to Gearrannan can gain an insight into life in the village in the mid 1900s from the museum in the centre of the village. Here a living room and a bedroom at one end of the house are balanced by demonstrations of Harris Tweed weaving at the other.

[O]il lamps were replaced by electricity from 1952, and in the 1960s piped water arrived, though it still had to be fetched from outside taps. This brought to an end the tradition of communal washing of heavier laundry in the loch, with water heated over open fires on the shore. And from 1965 a daily milk delivery started, ending the need to keep a cow and grow the crops to feed it.

By the 1970s those who could leave had left for easier and more modern accommodation nearby, and only five residents remained in the blackhouses. In 1974 the last occupants moved out, leaving the blackhouse village to the ghosts of a way of life now gone.

Since 1989 the Garenin Trust has been painstakingly restoring the once derelict blackhouses and croft land to recreate an authentic settlement offering visitors modern facilities within the surroundings of the original village. Traditional methods have been used to recreate the drystone masonry and thatched roofing of the original croft houses with the discreet integration of modern conveniences.

Today the village offers residents and non-resident visitors alike a shop and a café. There is also a remarkable collection of self-catering accommodation on offer in the village sleeping from 2 to 16. In the morning you can wake up to the sound of Atlantic waves, while in the evening you can relax in front of a welcoming fire.

We did in fact take advantage of the remarkable accommodation while on a motorbike tour of the Outer Hebrides in 2010, when we were lucky enough to be able to stay in the Blackhouse Village hostel. It provided us with a quirky alternative to sleeping in a tent, and it really did feel like we’d stepped back in time!

The entrance to the Blackhouse Village hostel in 2010

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top