Join us on a Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides visiting nine different Scottish isles with all coach and ferry transfers included in the price.
Our extended tour of the Hebrides has proved extremely popular, offering as it does a unique opportunity to travel the length and breadth of the Western Isles. In response to popular demand we have added a slightly shorter version of the tour which takes in all the beauty and diversity of this very special environment with nine different islands and four ferry trips included. Two comfortable hotels ensure that this holiday is as relaxing as possible while at the same time offering great variety and the sense of a true journey of discovery which will live long in the memory.
Our odyssey begins with a drive across the Isle of Skye, a romantic island of mist-covered mountains, before taking the ferry from Uig to Lochmaddy in South Uist and continuing to our hotel in Benbecula. From here we visit the islands of Eriskay; Vatersay with its fantastic sandy beaches, and Barra, including visits to Kisimul Castle and Cockleshell Beach, used as the island’s airport. A captivating journey follows as we travel north by ferry from North Uist and on through the magnificent mountain scenery of Harris and the rolling moorland of Lewis to Stornoway, our base for the next two nights. We continue with visits to the remarkable Standing Stones of Callanish, the tranquil little Norse Mill at Shawbost and the distinctive Black Houses at Gearannan. Our return route takes us by ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool.
- A view of the mist-covered Cuillins as you drive across Skye
- Blindingly white sandy beaches on South Uist and Vatersay
- The unique airport at Cockleshell Beach
- 5000 year old standing stones
- The tranquil location of the Norse Mill at Shawbost
- Four scenic ferry crossings
Islands visited, include:
- North Uist
- South Uist
- Return coach travel – available from Aberdeen, Inverurie, Elgin, Forres, Nairn or Inverness
- 2 nights’ accommodation on a dinner, bed and full breakfast basis at the Dark Island Hotel on Benbecula and 2 nights’ accommodation on a dinner, bed and full breakfast basis at the Cabarfeidh Hotel, Stornoway in rooms with private facilities
- All coaching and ferry transfers
- Visits to the Standing Stones of Callanish, the Gearannan Black Houses, Shawbost Norse Mill, Lewis; St Clement’s Church, Rodel; Kisimul Castle, Cockleshell Beach and Vatersay; RSPB Reserve at Balranald
- Services of a tour manager
Single room supplements apply. Subject to availability.
Connecting flights, rail travel and accommodation before or after the tour available on request.
We depart from our designated pick-up points and head north-west, stopping en-route for refreshments, with an opportunity for lunch (not included) in Inverness. We cross to the Isle of Skye via the Skye Bridge and drive across the island, enjoying the views of the Cuillin Hills whose jagged peaks are often wreathed in mist, and continue to Uig where we take the evening ferry to Lochmaddy in North Uist. Dinner is served on board. We continue over a causeway (keeping a careful eye out for otters) to Benbecula, the ‘stepping stone’ between the Uists, where we arrive at the base for the next two nights, the Dark Island Hotel, a traditional Hebridean hotel in a peaceful location.
After our full Scottish breakfast we will depart for Barra, travelling via the little island of Eriskay, just three miles long and two miles wide, with a great sandy beach known as Prince Charlie’s Bay – Bonnie Prince Charlie having landed here in July 1745. From Eriskay we make the short ferry crossing to Barra and have a tour of the island, including a visit by boat to Kisimul Castle, the only surviving medieval castle in the Western Isles and the seat of the Clan MacNeil. The castle features a great hall, kitchen, chapel, dungeon and 60-foot tower, together with a shop. We will also visit Cockleshell Beach, the unique runway whose use is governed by the tides. On approaching the airport keep an eye out to the left for the much loved former home of Sir Compton Mackenzie, the author of ‘Whisky Galore’, which is forever associated with the island. In fact, it was on the neighbouring island of Vatersay, which we will visit by means of the causeway linking the two islands, that the classic film adaptation was made. In the course of our tour today we also hope to see some of the hundreds of species of wild flowers that grow on the island, particularly on the machair, the fertile, grassy pastures that lie between the moorland and the sea.
We return via the Eriskay ferry to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and return to North Uist for a visit to the RSPB reserve at Balranald. A circular trail takes us through sandy dunes and flower-strewn machair which supports a wide range of birds such as turnstones, lapwings, corn buntings and the rare corncrake, whose rasping call should be a distinctive feature of our visit.
We then take the early-afternoon ferry from Berneray to Leverburgh at the southern end of Harris and visit St Clement’s Church at Rodel, built on top of an earlier structure in the 16th century by Alasdair Crotach, 8th chief of the Macleods of Harris and Dun Bheagan. The church tombs are among the most spectacular in Scotland. There are outstanding views as we travel along the coast, including the island of Taransay of ‘Castaway’ fame, through the mountainous countryside of Harris which eventually gives way to the rolling moorland of Lewis. We continue to the island capital of Stornoway and our comfortable accommodation at the Cabarfeidh Hotel.
Dinner will be served in the evening.
This morning after breakfast we will travel to the west coast of Lewis for a visit to the 5,000 year old Standing Stones of Callanish. Undoubtedly the most remarkable antiquity in the Western Isles, this collection of almost 50 stones forms a well-marked megalithic avenue, comprising 19 monoliths, ending in a circle of 13 stones, with a great cairn at the centre. Entry to the Visitor Centre is included.
From here we move on to the Black Houses at Gearannan, typical of the crofting settlements which until relatively recently were found throughout the Western Isles.
The final visit on our circular tour is the Norse Mill at Shawbost, where barley grain was ground into meal by Viking settlers. A short walk past a small lochan leads to two beautifully restored little thatched buildings with a fine view to the ocean beyond.
Dinner will be served back at our hotel in the evening.
This morning we check out of the hotel and have some free time to relax in Stornoway. You may wish to visit the Lewis Loom Centre, which chronicles history of Harris Tweed. We then take the early afternoon Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool which takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. We then continue our homeward journey, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.