Tours to the Outer Hebrides

 

Tour

Departing

6 days Isles of Skye, Harris, Lewis & Scalpay Sunday 2 May
6 days Outer Hebrides - nine islands Sunday 9 May
7 days Grand Hebridean Monday 17 May
7 days Grand Hebridean Monday 24 May
6 days Isles of Skye, Harris, Lewis & Scalpay Sunday 13 June
6 days Outer Hebrides - nine islands Sunday 20 June
6 days Grand Hebridean Sunday 11 July
7 days Grand Hebridean Monday 26 July
6 days Grand Hebridean Sunday 1 August
5 days Isles of Skye, Harris, Lewis & Scalpay Monday 30 August
7 days Grand Hebridean Monday 13 Sept

 

Lewis | Harris | The Uists | Barra

 

The Outer Hebrides are made up of the islands of (from north to south) Lewis, Harris, Berneray,  North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra, and Vatersay, and almost 200 other small islands and islets (most of which are uninhabited). The word Hebrides comes from a Norse word Havbredey, "the isles on the edge of the sea". The Outer Hebrides are a perfect place to get away from it all, with long white beaches backed with fertile grassland on the western sides of the islands and the more rugged scenery of rock-strewn flooded glaciated valleys to the east. In between these contrasting coasts lie peat moorlands. Wildlife, especially birdlife, abounds, and there are many sites of archaelogical interest. The Outer Hebrides is one of the major Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland.

 


West coast beaches, Outer Hebrides

 

Lewis

Lewis and Harris are technically one and the same island  - they are separated by the deep incisions of Loch Seaforth from the east and Loch Resort from the west, and six miles of mountainous terrain. But the character of the two is very different. Lewis is the largest and most populated of the Outer Hebrides, having the only town in the Outer Hebrides, Stornoway. Lewis has been populated for millennia, and many interesting historic sites still remain, such as the standing stones of Callanish, an arrangement of dozens of huge stones in the form of a cross with a circle in the middle . . . an ancient lunar observatory? Just north-west of Callanish are the 2000 year old remains of Dun Carloway broch, which probably served as a fortification for the Pictish people who inhabited the islands at that time. The main pillars of the Lewis economy are crofting, fishing and weaving, with the world famous Harris Tweed being produced on the islands of Harris and Lewis.

 


Callanish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis

 

Harris

Harris is a magical place of outstanding natural beauty and tranquility .... with dramatically rocky hillsides, perfect sandy beaches backed with machair and ablaze with wildflowers in the spring. Harris is almost divided in two by the sea lochs on either side of the village of Tarbert, the main ferry terminal for Harris.

 


Tarbert, Isle of Harris

 

The Uists

The Uists is the name given to the string of islands lying between Barra and Harris. The main islands, North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist, are linked by a series of causeways. The Uists are littered with archeological remains - standing stones, stone circles and chambered cairns - and are a haven for a huge variety of birdlife. The coast of North Uist is indented with sea lochs, and much of the island is covered by fresh water lochs. Here, as in other parts of the Outer Hebrides, one of the most memorable aspects is the quality of the light - the clean skies and waters reflect light with a brilliance and luminosity that is not easily forgotten. From North Uist, the causeway links to Benbecula - just touching the little island of Grimsay on the way. Benbecula is almost completely flat, with just one hill, Rueval, rising near the island's centre. A cave on the south-east side of Rueval is famous as the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie hid while waiting for Flora MacDonald to help him escape over the sea to Skye. South Uist, in contrast to Benbecula, has a mountainous spine running almost the full length of the island on the eastern side. The western part of South Uist is machair backing beautiful sandy beaches. Countless varieties of birdlife make South Uist a birdwatcher's paradise.

 


Volvo B10M ("Kaaren") on Benbecula

 

Barra

Barra is a microcosm of the whole of the Outer Hebrides, with a rocky and broken east coast, and fine sandy bays on the west coast, backed by machair and rising to hills and the mountain of Heaval. One of the sandy bays in the north of the island serves as the local airport with the flight times having to coincide with the tide times, as the planes can only land when the tide is out. Castlebay is the main village on Barra, taking its name from Kisimul Castle, which sits on a little rocky island out in the bay. Linked to Barra by a causeway is the delightful island of Vatersay.

 


The Isle of Barra Hotel on Tangasdale beach