The Outer Hebrides
Destination: The Outer Hebrides (including the islands of Barra, North and South Uist, Benbecula, Lewis and Harris)
Location: A chain of remote islands located off the north west coast of Scotland in the UK.
Overview: Baren islands with deserted, windswept beaches that are steeped in history. With a population of just 26,000 inhabitants and a land size of 3,071 square kilometers, the islands are a perfect place to escape the crowds and relax in the wide open space.
A small island with beautiful beaches. It’s worth driving around the 13 mile long ring road to get the best view. It’s also worth checking out the airport where the planes land on the actual beach at low tide! If you have time also visit Vatersay which is connected to Barra by a causeway on the south of the island. A ferry connects Barra to South Uist, either Castlebay – Loichboisdale or Ardmhor – Eriskay.
The 2nd largest of the Outer Hebrides. To the east of the island lay mountains rising up to 2000ft and to the west is a continuous sandy beach. It’s a 30 mile drive on the open road to reach Benbecula which is connected to South Uist by a causeway.
A flat island rising only 20 meters from the sea at its highest point. The east of the island is boggy moorland and is surrounded by multiple lochs. On the west of the island make sure you visit the pretty beach at Cula bay. A great place to watch the sunset. A road causeway connects to North Uist.
With a population of approximately 1,200 North Uist feels like a step back in time. Like it’s neighbour to the south, North Uist is also a flat island. The RSPB has a nature reserve where it is possible to see Arctic terns amongst other bird life. Check out Berneray, an island to the north connected to North Uist by a causeway. It has some stunning beaches and is small enough to walk round in a few hours.
An evening drone flight on Berneray
From Berneray take the Calmac car ferry as it winds through a tight channel between the islands to Leverburgh on Harris. The southern part of Harris has some of the best beaches on the Hebrides. Check out Luskentyre which is a beautiful white sand beach with stunning clear water. The north of the island is more mountainous and has the Outer Hebrides highest mountain, Clisham, at 2,621 ft.
Lewis and Harris share the same island. Stornoway is the administrative centre for the islands and is home to around 8,000 inhabitants. Lewis has some of fascinating history. The standing stones at Callanish date back to the Neolithic era and are well worth a visit.
How to get there: The Outer Hebrides are easily accessible by air and sea.
By sea: Calmac ferries connect directly to the mainland with services from Oban – Castlebay on Barra, Ullapool to Stornoway on Lewis and Mallaig to Lochboisdale on South Uist. There is also a ferry service from Uig on the Isle of Skye which is connected to the mainland by a road bridge. There are services from Uig to Lockmaddy on North Uist and Tarbert on Harris.
By air: The Outer Hebrides is served by 3 airports on Barra, Benbecula and one at Stornoway which all have daily direct flights to Glasgow where it is possible to transfer to a wide range of European destinations. Stornoway also has a direct flight to Manchester, Edinburgh, Inverness, Benbecula and Aberdeen. From Benbecula it is also possible to fly to Edinburgh, Inverness or Stornoway.
When to go?: The best time to visit the Outer Hebrides, in my opinion, is between May and June. You can enjoy the long evenings and these months usually have the best weather. July is also a good month to visit but when school holidays start the islands are busier. August is another option although the weather starts to worsen. The conditions on the Hebrides are interchangeable and you can encounter bad weather at any time of the year.
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