Stornoway is the main town on the Island of Lewis. It is the administrative centre for the local council, Comhairle nan Eileanan Siar. The town, founded in the early 9th century grew up around a natural sheltered harbour. While there is still a fishing fleet it is smaller than it was some years ago.
There is a regular twice daily ferry service to and from Ullapool and a freight service at night. Stornoway Airport provides flights to and from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen and Benbecula.
The town centre is about fifteen minutes walk from Manor House. The town offers a host of amenities for all ages, An Lanntair (the Lantern) is an arts centre, home to cinema and art gallery also a 50 seater restaurant. You can also eat in restaurants in the local hotels. There are a number of food outlets dispensing food from all the corners of the globe. There are butchers who make and sell the celebrated gourmet Stornoway Black Puddings which have PSI status. There are churches of most of the popular denominations in and around the town. The three main Scottish banks have a branch here. A sports centre provides most sporting facilities including a 25m swimming pool.
Stornoway boasts a very testing 18 hole golf course and visitors are welcome to come and play. A bowling green is situated near the town centre, visitors welcome. There are numerous rivers and lochs where fishing is available. Permits are normally purchased at the Sports Shop. There is also a Sea Angling Club. There are many opportunities for the hill walker to go and try some of the island walks.
There are tweed mills on the island where you can see the famous Harris Tweed being made by weavers using traditional methods.
The Callanish Stones are an arrangement of standing stones placed in a cruciform pattern with a central stone circle. They were erected in the late Neolithic era and were a focus for ritual activity during the Bronze Age. In Carloway is a broch which is well preserved with walls reaching to 9metres tall. At Garenin is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village which is worth visiting when you are in that area.
The Abhainn Dearg distillery is in Uig, on the West side of Lewis. The Isle of Harris distillery is in Tarbert, the hub of Harris. Visitors are welcome (with prior notice given) to go and visit them both. There is a regular bus service to all the outlying villages and to Harris.
The main hospital for the Western Isles is two minutes walk from Manor House.
The Island of Lewis was bought in 1844 by James Matheson a native of Lairg in Sutherland. Mr Matheson was one half of Jardine and Matheson a company that started in Canton in 1822 and made a fortune in the Opium trade. James Matheson paid £190,000 for the Island and in 1847 saw the start of building the castle, a project of £60,000. A further £49,000 was spent on the castle grounds, planting woodlands and private gardens.
William Hesketh Lever (Lord Leverhulme) bought the Isle of Lewis in 1918 and a year later acquired the Isle of Harris. In little over three years, Leverhulme spent some £2million on industrial schemes, based largely on fishing, which he believed would transform the economic and social conditions on the islands. Leverhulme gave the castle electric lighting, central heating, numerous bathrooms and intercom telephones.
In 1923 Lord Leverhulme gifted Lews Castle and 64,000 acres of land to the people of Stornoway parish. The Stornoway Trust was established to manage this substantial estate on behalf of the community. It is on the grounds of the castle that the golf course is laid out. It is ten minutes walk from Manor House. In the grounds are some good walks and cycling tracks. The Hebridean Celtic Festival is an international Celtic music festival which takes place annually on the Castle Green in front of Lews Castle.