Isle of Lewis 2: Down to Harris

July 12, 2016 | 6 Comments

My time on the Isle of Lewis is coming to an end a bit too quickly, but it has been a special visit.

Here a a summary of my pages from the last few days which have included two trips down to the southern end of the island – the Isle of Harris.

Many Scottish people I have spoken to say that the beaches of Harris are their favourite part of Scotland. I didn’t have great weather but they were still pretty amazing.

I just love driving through the Scottish landscapes: the dramatic profiles of the hills, the lochs, the subtle variations in colours of the heather, bracken and grasses, the different rocks – sometimes dramatic cliffs and at other times scattered throughout the hills.

I have really felt a sense of space this time – the bare hills without trees really give me a real feel for the shape of the land and the spaces they create.


I love how the colour of the hills are different every visit. This time the hills are very green and there are lots of buttercups and bog cotton on the flats…

and oh! the odd thistle.


We went down to Harris for the day.

It was nice to be sitting in the back seat (rather than driving) so I had a go doing a little sketching of the hills as we drove south. The line sketch is a 2 minute sketch of Scalpay after lunch at a fancy Bistro.

We had to stop at a Harris Tweed shop when in Harris, didn’t we?

My wee niece was hanging out for the cattle grids along the way – “when is the next cattle grid?” So here she is pointing them out on a big map of Harris. The map shows the big hills in North Harris and the many sea lochs and beaches in the south.

A view of Scalpay where we had a fancy seafood meal…

I love the colour of the seaweed!

By the time we reach home again it was sunny, so I had another go at the view from my sister’s garden (until I got way too cold out in the wind)




A walk through the castle grounds – no time for a sketch so here are two photos.

In the afternoon I drove back down to Harris (on my own) to spend the weekend with very dear friends of mine – the minister and his wife in the small village of Leverburgh. I stopped a few times on the way down however not the places I had planned on Friday – low cloud meant total white out! But I was pleased that there was one break in the clouds so I could get this one of one of the hills of North Harris.

As for the Harris beaches – the colour of the water is amazing even on a very wet day. What would they be like on a sunny one? (sadly I had a wrong setting on my camera so this photo isnt as sharp as I would have liked)

I also managed a quick sketch of a Harris beach. I was a little concerned that my friends would start worrying about how long the drive was taking – so did this in a few brush strokes



I had a wonderful Lord’s Day (Sunday) with my friends who worship in this small church. My church in Sydney has strong connections with Scottish Presbyterianism so I feel very much at home here – well except that I can’t join in with the Gaelic parts.

I love hearing the Gaelic psalms being sung (here is a little BBC video about it). The Christian Sabbath observance is a big feature of these islands and regular readers of my blog will know that it’s a big feature of my life too. Scottish Presbyterianism is often portrayed as strict but I have only felt uplifted and surrounded by warmth as a visitor worshiping with these dear people. I can’t imagine anything better than a whole day devoted to worshipping God with fellow Christens.

I was treated to a evening fellowship as well – about 15 people all sitting around in a small manse living room asking questions and putting the visitor (me!) on the spot to share my story. A truly wonderful day!



The village of Leverburgh as I left.

I drove back from Leverburgh and stopped to do this quick sketch from the same spot as a sketch I did in 2010. Still finding my way with my sub-10 minute landscape sketches!

I haven’t had the best weather but its been ok. Hoping that we will be able to get to the beaches at Uig before I head to the mainland, but if not, I have a new area to explore on my next visit!

I haven’t had any quality time to sketch but I have had a great time with my family which is so much more important… here are the girls.

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  • Emily DeArdo says:

    What did you use for the sand in the beach painting? When I went to SoCal I was experimenting with a few different things for sand, so I’d like to know what other people do. 🙂 Love the pieces! Can’t wait to get to Scotland.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Thanks Emily. Re. Sand Many people use Daniel smith buff titanium. I also use potters pink mixed with Hamas yellow med

  • Julana says:

    Thank you for sharing. Looks like a beautiful place, with a goid community.
    “The boundary lines have fallen for [you] in pleasant places.” Psalms 16:6

  • Philippa Granwal says:

    Thanks for going to the trouble of posting when you’re travelling. Not always easy I know but a real pleasure for those of us stay-at-homes.

  • Serena Lewis says:

    Lovely post and sketches, Liz! Your wee niece is adorable! You and your sister look a lot alike.

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