Situated in an environment of outstanding natural beauty at Carloway on the Isle of Lewis, the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village is a unique group of 19th century restored blackhouses, which is now both the site of self-catering holiday accommodation and a living museum. Visitors take a step back in time as they learn about and experience the way of life in a typical crofting township of the last century.
The original inhabitants of this village were crofters and fishermen who pulled their boats up at the nearby Geodha Ruadh. The people of the village were hard workers and were known for traveling long distances to make a living; in the 1950s men from the village would travel as far as South Georgia for whaling season. In May of 1920 seven teams of three women set off from, Stornoway on an annual cycle to process fish. They followed the herring to the east coast of Scotland then down to eastern England, returning home only at the end of the season. Just over a decade later, in 1934, Gearrannan made its claim to fame when a team of three sisters from the village won the title of Supreme Champions in Lowestoft, Suffolk, for gutting, salting and layering a barrel of herring faster than anyone else.
The double drystone walls, the low profile and the insulating thatch made the houses suitable for Hebridean weather. The houses were occupied up until the 1970s when the last few elderly residents moved to new accommodation that didn’t need the annual maintenance of thatch and stone work. The old houses and the surrounding areas were declared a conservation area shortly after the last resident left.
A coastal path runs from Gearrannan to Dalbeg, passing through two promontory forts and a ruinous Norse type mill and leads to Dalmore beach, where a Bronze Age settlement was revealed in 1982.
The Gearrannan self-catering experience is said to be truly unique. Each blackhouse has its own character and is named after the family that once lived there.
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 to 17:30 throughout the summer season.
- The Outer Hebrides Guide Book
- Explore Outer Hebrides 2015/2016 (www.explorescotland.net)