The Islands contain some of Europe’s most outstanding wildlife and habitats The craggy cliffs are teeming with breeding sea birds and the shores are home to one of the densest populations of otters in North West Europe who live and hunt in the many of the Lochs.
With a rich and varied marine resource, the Minch is home to the Minke Whale, Bottled Nosed Dolphins, Basking Sharks and many others.
There are of course many red deer on The Isle of Lewis and The Isle of Harris, which have adapted well to the rough peat and moor land.The Hebrides is also a very popular place for anglers who fish for wild salmon. Throughout the islands, the adult salmon return in the summer months.
Click Here to see Western Isles Hebridean Wildlife.....
Western Isles - Otters
These beautiful creatures really do look magnificent against the backdrop of the beautiful hebridean scenery. Inquisitive, playful semi aquatic mammals - can be seen playing around the shorelines of
The Isle of Harris and The Isle of Lewis - in various places throughout the Western Isles.
Western Isles Seals
The Outer Hebrides is also home to one of the two major Grey Seal concentrations in Scotland - and over 40% of the world population.
There are also Common deals ( in fact 10% of the European population) to be seen all over the Islands. Watching seals is a great pastime.
Western Isles Red Deer
Red deer can be seen on the hills all over the Western Isles especially along the Huisinis Rd - Harris
It is said that if there were wolves in Scotland then the number of red deer would be reduced dramatically as they would be a key target. That really would be a shame.
Western Isles Butterflies
The Hebrides sees a great many pretty butterflies and moths.
There are seventeen different butterfly species that have been seen in and around tHe Western Isles, including, Common Blue, The Small Tortioseshell, The Meadow brown, painted lady and others
Western Isles Insects
The Western isles is a great place to watch insects and creepy crawlies.
You can get observe the insects behaviour - like this burying beetle which has the curious habit of burying dead birds, mice, shrews, voles by digging the earth away beneath them.
History of the Western Isles
The Western Isles have been inhabited for over 6000 years. The Vikings invaded in the 9th century and today many place names are of Norse origin.
Gaelic and English are both spoken. The Isle of Lewis and The Isle of Harris still retain some of their history and culture going back over 6000 years. The history of the Islands covers quite a bit of hardship over the times, when the islanders have fought with great determination to carve out their future.
Historically Lewis and Harris have gone their separate ways, despite the existence of the common clan surname Macleod. - however today they are more united with the Western isles Council - the Comhairle nan Eilean Star, playing a great role in their present day
One of the things that The Western Isles are famous for - is the Callanish Stones - a worthy rival to Stonehenge - in fact these stones are older than Stonehenge.
Calanais comprises a late Neolithic stone ring and associated lines of standing stones.. Callanish has three sets of stone circles all within a few miles of each other - the main being a ring of large stones about 12 metres in diameter encloses a huge monolith at its centre.
Charcoal samples were taken in the 1980's and subjected to radio-carbon dating in America which showed that these stones were erected between 2900 and 2600BC. Up till the 80,s previous estimates of how old they were - were really only educated guesses
The Harris Tweed Industry
The Harris Tweed industry has always played an important role in the islands culture, industry and history. By its legal definition - the cloth must be woven on the islands. For centuries the islanders of Lewis,and Harris have woven the cloth the world knows as Harris Tweed, Clo Mhor
or in Gaelic - 'The big cloth'.
The raw material, wool, being produced locally and part of it would have been used in its natural uncoloured state, the rest is dyed. When much of mainland Scotland turned to mechanisation of the cloth" industry -
The Isle of Harris - (and Lewis) retained the traditional methods of creating this luxury cloth.
Today however machine-spinning and vat dyeing have been slowly trying to replace the hand methods. Recently extensive renovation and investment has taken place in the Mill at Shawbost , Lewis and the industry lives on.
The luxurious fabric from the Outer Hebrides has proved popular with leading British fashion designers over the past 20 years, including Vivienne Westwood, and is worn by celebrities such as Madonna and Gywneth Paltrow.
Harris Tweed - MBE for Luskentyre Weaver
A weaver who lives and works at Luskentyre - Donald John MacKay, in 2011 was given the MBE for services to the Harris Tweed Industry. Nike had been looking for a way to update their trainers and after seeing swatches of the Harris Tweed ordered immediately and many of the Islands weavers were put to work, to help meet the demand.
Mr Mackay has been weaving for over forty years. Over the past 21 years, he and his wife Maureen have been independently producing the tweed, trading under the name Luskentyre Harris Tweed.