13:00, 15 May 2014
14:44, 15 May 2014
A collection of incredible photos has captured daily life in one of Britain’s most remote places – the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
Nearly 700 miles north of London and 250 miles from Scottish capital Edinburgh, life on the island has stayed largely unchanged for decades.
The Scottish Gaelic language predominately spoken by the isle’s 18,000 inhabitants has helped preserve an identity in which many see themselves as Lewis islanders first and Scottish second.
With the referendum on Scotlandâs independence approaching, professional photographer Jeff Mitchell made the eight-hour journey from his home near Glasgow to photograph those living in one of the UK’s most north-westerly points.
Mr Mitchell, 44, said: ‘I was so pleased to be able to get up there and photograph people going about their daily business, especially the peat-cutters and tweed weavers.
‘Both activities have seen a resurgence recently, tweed because of the huge demand for the product around the world and peat due to the increasing price of oil.’
The sun rises behind a Celtic cross in Dail Mor cemetery in Lewis, records show the Outer Hebrides island has been inhabited for an estimated 8,000 years
The view towards Harris, the more mountainous southern part of the island, from Lewis, the lower-lying northern half which includes the island’s main town, Stornoway
A tourist takes a photo of one of the isle’s main attractions, The Callanish Stones, 13 rocks ranging between one metre and five metres tall and thought to have been put up between 2900 and 2600 BC
One of the isle’s traditional industries is weaving. Despite the name the Harris Tweed, much of the industry that produces the famous cloth is today focused in Lewis, with the major finishing mills in Shawbost and Stornoway
Worker Lewis Miller dying wool at the Harris Tweed Hebrides Company in Shawbost. Sales in one of Scotland’s last cottage industries are soaring with Japan, Russia and Germany being some of the largest international importers of the cloth
Callum Macleod dying wool at the Harris Tweed Hebrides Company. The firm, founded in 2007 when Harris Tweed was at a low ebb, is credited with having helped revitalise the industry
Calum Macdonald works in the blending room. The production process uses blended yarns produced using secret recipes. The yarns are then sent to weavers’ homes to be handwoven
Christopher Morrison works on a spinning frame at the Harris Tweed Hebrides Company. The Harris Tweed Association was formed in 1909 and brought in the world-famous Orb trade mark, which authenticates genuine Harris Tweed
Malcolm John Macleod works on traditional Hattersley single-width loom, which have been used by weavers on the isle for decades
A worker using a Hattersley single-width loom. The Shawbost mill closed in 2005, but was taken over by the new company Harris Tweed Hebrides in 2007. It now accounts for around 90 per cent of Harris Tweed production
One of a number of weavers who work from home, Derek Macleod from Kirkvick, weaves traditional tartan tweed in his shed
John Murdo Macdonald tying in a double-width loom. Harris Tweed Hebrides’ cloth is now exported to over 60 countries
Roddy Martin works in the pattern room at the Harris Tweed Hebrides Company in Shawbost. The company’s more high-profile customers include Alexander McQueen, Chanel, YSL, Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood
Lewis Miller dying wool. The Earl of Dunmore and his wife, Lady Dunmore, are credited with first seeing the potential for selling the isle’s tweed in the mid-19th century
The company’s pattern room. The Harris Tweed Hebrides collection includes more than 600 patterns made up from a range of 150 yarn colours
The famous Orb trademark is ironed onto the fabric as the final stage of production. Makers say that only once the symbol is attached is the cloth genuine Harris Tweed
Walkers are attracted to the island’s magnificent scenery, with a recent study showing that tourism to Harris and Lewis has grown steadily over recent years
The island’s uplands are home to golden eagles and red grouse, and many species of seabirds, such as gannets, fulmars, kittiwakes and guillemots, inhabit the coastal areas
A couple walk their dogs on Dail Mor beach, one of the islands many beautiful strips of coastline
The view towards Lewis from Harris. The boundary between the two areas is formed by a line with Loch Resort in the west and Loch Seaforth in the east
Two of the sheep which produce the island’s famous wool stand on a rock near the Callanish Stones. The Hebrides are home to a wide variety of breeds of sheep, which provide a number of different wools
A general view of the village of Siabost. The entire island has around 21,000 inhabitants, around half of whom live in or around Stornaway
Peat-cutter Robert MacKay from Ness uses his iron to cut out the peat, made from vegetation which has decomposed over thousands of years
The peat is cut into slabs – known in Gaelic as fads – which are about a foot long, half a foot wide and three inches thick
Angus Smith stacks peat outside the family home in Cross, nearly all of the peat collected is used by the islanders in wood burners to heat their homes
Dan Smith, Angus Smith, Callum Mckenzie and Alastair Maclean extract peat from a moor near the village of Cross. The skill of peat cutting has seen a resurgence in recent years as the price of oil rises and islanders turn to more traditional sources of energy
After dying away in recent decades, the revival of the skill has seen peat stacks, once commonplace in the island landscape, return to fields and gardens
Dan Smith, Angus Smith, Callum Mckenzie and Alastair Maclean are among the dedicated peat cutters determined not to let the skill die out
Peatlands were once common across Britain, but agriculture and industry has meant that Lewis is now one of the few remaining places where it is found in large amounts
The peat stacks are built in a certain way to allow them to survive the remote island’s often-harsh winter climate
The rise in the price of oil has prompted a resurgence in peat cutting, with women and children now getting involved
The cutters reach the island’s widespread peat bogs on the back of a tractor, which they use to transport it home. Lewis, which is joined to the Isle of Harris, is nearly 700 miles north of London, and 250 miles from Scottish capital Edinburgh
Maureen Chambers and her dog Cacie sit in the evening sun outside a traditional stone-built house in the village of Blackhouse
The beautiful village of Blackhouse, in the west of the island, is one of the best examples of the isle’s traditional building techniques
The Callanish Stones. Photographer Mr Mitchell said: ‘I was very lucky with the weather. Normal service was resumed in the days after I took the photos, with cloudy and wetter weather moving in’
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Perth, United Kingdom,
23 minutes ago
This is my island. This article paints a picture of a remote time warp. I would like to paint a different picture; the Isle of Lewis is as modern as any other place in the World. Believe it or not we have cars, buses, computers and internet, an aiport with real flying planes, electricity, central heating and other wonders like windows, hot and cold running water and soap and education from primary to degrees via the Lewis college and UHI. Heck, there is even a cinema.
We are not remote in the slightest. Yes, we are 700 miles from London, so what? London is 3500 miles from Newyork, or 7 hours on a plane, or instantly at your finger tips via the internet, skype etc.
We speak English. Yes, we speak Gaelic too, and French, German, Spanish and our Tai, Chinese and Malaysian families speak their languages.
It isn’t a backwater, it isn’t a land that time forgot but it is a beautiful chain of islands populated by warm welcoming natives and incomers alike.
Glasgow, United Kingdom,
2 hours ago
I am so proud to be from there. I love the island. I had to move away for uni but sooner rather than later I’m moving back home and cannot wait.
york, United Kingdom,
3 hours ago
It looks very nice and the cottages quaint ,but realistically it will be very cold in winter ,and grow dark early ,bet tv reception not very good ,and shopping will not be like we know shopping ,would be ok for a couple of days ,but think that would be enough ,but of course the people who have been born there have never known any other life so are quite content where main land more worldly people like me need more
Manchester, United Kingdom,
10 hours ago
Having lived all over the world, and having visited Lewis several times – I personally cannot think of anywhere I’d rather live.
The place, and the people, are amazing.
A Bigger Nugget,
Moonbase-Alpha, United Kingdom,
10 hours ago
“The Callanish Stones, 13 rocks”
So Callanish, one of the most important megalithic monuments of Northern Europe, is now a mere collection of ’13 rocks’? I truly despair at the sheer bloody ignorance lack of professionalism of DM ‘journalists’.
Perth, United Kingdom,
17 minutes ago
SocialistUtopia, United Kingdom,
10 hours ago
No thanks, I remember the Wicker man.
11 hours ago
I toured and stayed on Uist last year. It rained every day except one. The photos do not show the abandoned cars, fridges and 50 years of accumulated rubbish that you find scattered everywhere. The number of abandoned, derelict buildings is astonishing. Nobody has a garden because nothing will grow there.There are no trees. Square, gerry-built dwellings are planted, apparently at random, with little but chicken wire and cars on bricks to denote the boundary. If it was a mainland housing scheme the residents would have left it. The night life is practically non-existent. Since they got television in the 70s, the locals all stay at home. It’s not that isolated either; even ASDA will deliver from the mainland.
Perhaps the most telling picture we got was when we found ourselves alone on a 3 mile white sand beach. Sticking out of a sand dune, there was the remains of a shed of some kind, sticking out of that was the carcass of a Citroen 2CV.
Paradise it is not.
2 of 3 repliesSee all replies
Scotland, United Kingdom,
10 hours ago
Edinburgh, United Kingdom,
1 hour ago
Colony of EUSSR, United Kingdom,
12 hours ago
Go there it is a great place to visit. Stopped at a souvenir place with a restaurant on the upper floor. When finished I asked the lass how much we owed, she said “Och just pay herself downstairs”. I was trusted to sat what we had had and pay accordingly! Some nice beaches too!
utopia, United Kingdom,
12 hours ago
How much are those houses worth?
Fife, United Kingdom,
14 hours ago
An amazing place to live, so sad I moved away, maybe I will get back one day. As for the drunks, they are as bad in every part of Scotland that I have visited.
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