Isle of Lewis: Celebration of the Stag

Wildlife in the Outer Hebrides

As the colder weather begins to creep in on the Isle of Lewis, it’s the perfect time to wrap up and set out for a day’s exploring. This time of year reveals a unique autumnal beauty, and is also the perfect time to witness some spectacular wildlife displays, in particular, Deer.

Your chances of spotting one of these majestic creatures while exploring the Isle of Lewis and neighbouring Harris are high, with the population of Deer estimated to stand at 4,000. You will find Deer roaming wild all over the place, particularly on the west coast and central parts of Lewis and all over Harris. The autumn and winter period are both particularly atmospheric times to witness these animals in the wild; hearing them call out from the various glens and gully’s around you. As October signals the beginning of the annual mating season for Deer, you may even be lucky enough to see them locking horns as  (known as 'Stag Rutting')– both an unforgettable and eerie experience!

While visiting Lews Castle, you may catch a glimpse of a herd of four Deer, which are frequently spotted on top of the hill next door to the castle. After the sun goes down you will notice the Deer trundling down to the Shoe Burn River for some water (called ‘Shoe Burn’ due to the fact medieval inhabitants of the island used to previously wash their shoes here!), before trotting back up the hill, where they feed on the new growth in the shrubs.

Any foodies visiting the island cannot miss sampling the  Venison, regarded by many to be the best in the world! It has a unique rich flavour which stems from its diet of heather and the pure mountain stream water it drinks – a real taste of the hills! Not only is the meat delicious, it’s also packed full of vitamins, organic and incredibly lean.

If you are visiting the Isle of Lewis this winter, you will be pleased to know that early December is when the best Venison is produced.  So, a trip to the iconic Macleod & Macleod butchers in Stornoway for some locally produced Venison Sausages is essential. We recommend cooking up a mouth-watering dish of Venison braised in red wine. This dish can be whipped up easily in your fully-equipped Lews Castle apartment. All you have to do is allow the ingredients (Venison sausages, shallots, red wine, garlic and rosemary) to cook slowly on a low heat while relaxing with your tipple of choice. We’re sure you will agree this dish really showcases this top-quality ingredient and is the perfect meal to enjoy after a long day exploring the island.