Beautiful Garenin

picture of machair flowersGarenin or Gearranan has its own attractions and I never tire of being in and around the village.

The Blackhouse village, museum and café is a 5 minute walk in to the shore from my house and is a peaceful and evocative place, remembering the old village and people who lived there when I was young.

The coastal walk starts from the shore and winds round to Shawbost - 11miles. Lots of high cliffs and seabird colonies - not to mention passing two of the best beaches on the island, Dalmore and Dalbeg.

You can also walk from the house to upper Carloway and continue round to the main road and back into Garenin. This is a very pleasant circular walk passing Leathad Ard an open garden, which you can visit.

The village itself has two churches and a wonderful craft shop called the Blue Pig – well worth a visit.

Soon there will be a new development in the old school where a Rural Life centre will be established. This is great news for the village.

Further on is the famous Dun Carloway (Scottish Gaelic: Dun Charlabhaigh), which is an extremely well preserved example of a broch, that was probably built in the 1st century AD.

Two miles from the house you will find the Doune Braes hotel, which is in a picturesque setting and there is a walk over to Tolstadh Chaolais, a very scenic village.The Doune Braes serves meals 7 days a week.

If you need a change to more urban pleasures travel over to Stornoway to see our fantastic new museum at Lews Castle, which also has an atmospheric café with great wifi The castle grounds are also extensive to walk around.

An Lanntair, the cultural centre is also worth a visit. Always buzzing with good exhibitions, café, theatre, cinema and restaurant.

You will find lots of information about other attractions in Lewis and Harris in a folder in the house and lots of books on island life.

Our Family Roots

History of our family house at 27 Garenin.

People often ask about the house and the family so here is a potted history.

My grandmother Christina MacGregor nee Macleod inherited the house from her aunt Christina MacIver. Christina’s only son Norman was killed at Ypres in 1917 when he was serving with the 5th Cameron Highlanders.

My grandparents and their 6 children had been living at 12 Tolsta Chaolais prior to this and my mother Christina was 9 years of age when she moved to Garenin.

P30218472The house at that time was the old black house further down the croft, where all the old houses in the village were at that time and the ruins can still be seen.

In 1951, the year I was born my grandmother obtained a grant from the DAF (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) to build a modern house and the present house with its tall chimneys is very similar to many built at that time.

By this time my grandmother was a widow, my grandfather Malcolm having died in 1935 and the house was built by my uncles and my mother, who by this time was married, living on the mainland and expecting me, her first child. My grandmother died aged 63 in 1952 so did not enjoy her new house for long.

My uncles Neil and John lived in the house after the second world. Both had been badly injured during the war as was the case for many Lewismen. Neil never married and worked as a crofter all his life until his death at the age of 84. He did not want any changes or improvements made to the house.

John was a very skilled weaver and had a very entrepreneurial approach being one of the first weavers to work for himself as well as the mill and he made contacts all over Europe and the US. Many people beat a path to his door and his loom shed was full of interesting visitors – so much for the isolation of Lewis. He wove until his death at the age of 75. He was married briefly to a Canadian and ultimately had a second long marriage to Pat and they lived at Uraghag just below number 27,when new housing was build there.

There are pictures of the queen visiting his loom shed and Oscar Marzaroli the famous Edinburgh photographer took many pictures of a vibrant but dying way of life. The tourist board also used him frequently for photoshoots.

He was not just far sighted about weaving picture of black houses- he also put in one of the first central heating systems in the island in 1965 and the house has been warm and cosy since then.

Next was Norman, who married and lived in Stornoway. He was also a weaver and had three children. Norman died young at 57 and two of my cousins visit the house, which is a nice link to maintain as family are scattered now.

My mother was next in line. She married a Perthshire farmer and was headteacher of a small two teacher school. She brought us to Lewis frequently and did lots of work in the house for her two brothers. She taught Gaelic in her latter years as the language came to be resurrected after years of falling into decline.

A younger brother Johnny Murdo went to New Zealand and died relatively young. Another sister Kirsty Mary the youngest of the family died aged 13.

I inherited the house from my mother and hope to keep it as links with Lewis are important to me as are links with other local families in the area. I hope my two children and my grandchildren will appreciate their Lewis heritage and come here as often as I do.

I have tried to renovate and update the house over the last 10 years. It has been a labour of love and is transformed from the very basic home of the past. I hope the house still celebrates and reflects its history and all the stories, which make it a home.

My husband and I have just retired and will continue to work on projects on the house for the next few years and enjoy family holidays here.

Catriona Laird

Getting to Garenin

Travel to Lewis

Travel to Lewis is by ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway or Uig, Skye to Harris.
Ferry operator is Caledonian Macbrayne - click link for timetables.

Travelling by air is from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Inverness and there are regular services.

By Car from Stornoway

Picture of boatsBy car from the centre of Stornoway take the road via Callanish or the road via Shawbost. Garenin or Gearranan in Gaelic is on the Westside circular road.

For the Shawbost direction take the A875 to Barvas. Turn left on to the A858 at Barvas just after the petrol station. Continue to shawbost and on to Carloway – about 12 miles from Barvas. Turn right at the bridge in Carloway and into Garenin. The house in at the top of the hill and has a number 27 on the gate – just past the bus shelter.

From the other direction take the A859 towards Tarbert and turn right at Leurbost for Callanish. Continue on past Callanish and on to the Doune Braes hotel. After one mile you will reach Carloway bridge and turn left into Garenin. Instructions for house as previously.

The journey is 24 miles whichever route is taken.

There is a shorter route of 18 miles over the Pentland road but this is single track road with passing places over moorland and used mainly by local traffic. The road is a right turn to Bennadrove refuse dump when leaving Stornoway on the Tarbert road and is signposted Carloway.

Parking is opposite the house.

By public transport – take the train/ bus from Glasgow to Inverness,bus to Inverness and then bus to Garenin. It is best to book the Inverness-Ullapool bus.

The local bus route is the Westside W2 The bus station is right beside the ferry and the bus stop in Garenin is just below the house.
You will find a wealth of information by visiting the internet guide to Scotland website and then navigating to the Lewis page and on to the travel section.

E Mail & Phone


07748 183 438
(+44) 01259 762115

Postal Address

27 Garenin
Isle of Lewis

Click on 'Google' for a larger map.