Sunday, 3 February 2019

Port of Ness (Port Nis), hebridean 'Thule' with a unique temple to St. Moluag.

Port of Ness (Port Nis) is a village on the Isle of Lewis, one of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, at the end of the road leading northwards from Stornoway. It's very dispersed, a string of villages along the road like a linear settlement that extends for three miles from Cross to the harbour, with an extension to Eoropie.

The wee port was constructed in the early 19th century.

Port of Ness

Coordinates: 58° 29′ N, 6° 13′ W
Population: ~1300 (community), less than 1000 (village)

From up on the cliff, a sloping road leads down to the harbour.

An intriguing little harbour, between a cliff and an extremely attractive beach.

That boathouse at the harbour features in Peter May novels, The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man.

Sea storm conditions are frequent, huge waves battering the walls.

As I said, Port of Ness is a village-along-the-road. The main road from Stornoway is also its main street. Below I pasted a map of road A857 that shows the location of some features I'll describe next. All the area north of Cros is the community of Ness.

Port of Ness is quite well cared for, its houses all alike - gabled ends with chimney, some facing the road, others parallel.

A pretty harmony prevails.

With a decreasing population, many of the houses in the village are now to sell, to rent or for accommodation of visitors. Still, there is an art gallery, a luxury tweed weaving factory, one or two knitwear workshops, and a café/restaurant perched on the cliff.

Iain Macleod's Breanish Tweed  manufactures lightweight luxury tweeds and other products including lambswool and cashmere shawls or scarves.

Designer Sallie Avis's workshop Sewing Room With a View makes to measure handcrafted accessories, in Harris or Breamish tweed:

A quaint boutique in a pretty sea-blue shop studio overlooking Port of Ness.

Harbour View Gallery

Also in Port of Ness is the Harbour View Gallery, where the locally-based artist Anthony J. Barber's displays his works, in a modern cabin with a view.

Paintings, prints and cards of Lewis island scenes. 

Cafe Sonas

From local fish and shellfish plates to freshly made scones. And a large variety of gin, too.

But the best is the view !

To the south, the café overlooks the harbour and the beach:

Ness beach seen from South

A bench with a view

Cros, or Cross, is one of the settlements on the main road. A most cheerful looking post office has been brightly rebuilt :

This unusual Post Office stands 3 miles southwest from Port of Ness.

Eoropie (Europaidh), beach and dunes

Close to the west of Port of Ness, this village stands by a famous, magnificent beach, with dunes fine enough for a "dune park".

I would even say - probably, one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the world.

Looks sunny, but temperature here is often below zero!

And to the extreme North of the isle, the Butt of Lewis headland, which lies in the North Atlantic, is frequently battered by heavy swells and storms and is marked by the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse.

Teampull Mholuaidh
(Church of St. Moluag)

St. Moluag's church is a 12th or 13th century church in Eoropie, Ness. Saint Moluag, or Moluog, born Irish, was an early Christian missionary and apostle of the Picts and, most likely, the first patron saint of Scotland since the 6th century.

This is one of the very few remaining temples to St. Moluag - there is only one other in Lewis.

Recently restored, the church has a basic T shaped structure, with two small chapels on either side of the main body of the church.

The very narrow windows - one on the back wall, two over the side chapel and just one on the main side wall - help with a magical inner atmosphere.

Close to the side entrance door, a Iona celtic cross has been recently placed.


It's stunningly beautiful interior, under the dim light of few simple windows,  invites to silence and meditation. The wooden roof is part of the restorations works.


The dark interior can only be lighted is by oil lamp and candle.

St. Moluag's golden glowing under the low sun:

Closing with a Port of Ness watercolour:

Anthony J Barber, Harbour View Gallery