What it's like
The Western Isles or the Outer Hebrides, are a chain of islands ‘moored’ 120 miles off mainland Scotland. They stretch for 130 miles from the Butt of Lewis to Vatersay in the south.
The rolling moors of Lewis, pitted with freshwater lochs and gouged by long deep lochs has low hills, glorious sands, cliffs along its indented coast, great seascapes and a wealth of wonderful heritage sites visited on great walks.
Harris, conjoined to Lewis, is mountainous, with barely a cupful of soil Clisham at 2,622ft is deeply satisfying to bag. It has miles of magnificent sands backed by unbelievably beautiful machair.
The west coast of North and South Uist, with Benbecula sandwiched in between, is also one long stretch of magnificent shell-sand. The two Uists have a mountainous east coast and climbs to the tops of Hecla, Ben Mhor or Eaval are too good to miss. Flat Benbecula looks as if at the next high tide it would float out to sea.
A causeway takes you to romantic Eriskay. It is a lovely small island where you can sing the Love Lilt as you climb its two hills. From Eriskay take the ferry to Barra, where the planes have to wait for the tide to go out before they can land. It is another island just waiting to be walked. It too has its causeway, one of the first to be constructed, linking it to Vatersay, a tiny island with a mixture of peaty high slopes and wonderful sands, and a place to spot the corncrake.
- Callanish (Calanais) Stones, Lewis After leaving the Visitor Centre the first view of the main circle is breathtaking. Walk on to visit two more circles. The head north to the Butt lightshouse or the Barvas and Brue Walkways or Carloway Broch. Or go south to Great Bernera and its Iron-Age village.
- Chaipaval and Toe Head reached over wonderful sands and machair past a 16th century chapel before a steep climb to the summit and out along the three mile peninsula projecting out into the Atlantic.
- Eoligarry, Barra climbed gently and not very high, through primroses, to watch the planes come in, the fishermen gather cockles and enjoy the stunning vista.
Must see and do
- Kayaking & Canoeing The Hebridean coastline is a labryrinth of bays, inlets, dramatic cliffs, secret coves, sandy beaches and offshore islands – a sea paddler’s paradise.
- Cycle Hebrides All the islands are perfect for biking. Cycle with the wind behind you from Barra to Lewis and discover a land of very quiet roads, superb scenery, fantastic wild life, and a friendly Gaelic culture.
- Must see Blackhouse, Arnol, Lewis. Rodel church;, Harris. Balranald RSPB Nature Reserve, North Uist. The Politician pub, Eriskay. Kisimul Castle, Barra. Memorial to the Annie Jane, Vatersay.
Destination County : Western Isles