Outer Hebrides island hopping
the edge of Europe, with next landfall the Americas, you’ll
that the magical, mysterious Hebridean islands are an area of great
archipelago is mainly contained within a crescent shaped arc stretching
some 130 miles from south to north, at a distance from the Scottish
mainland that averages around 40 miles. There are at least 70 named
islands in the group, of which 15 are permanently populated - total
population around 26,500.
the course of a
Hebridean Hopscotch holiday, it's possible to visit all of the
populated islands by car - on the entire journey from Vatersay (which
adjoins Barra) in the south and Lewis in the north, it's necessary to
make only two ferry crossings, as all the other islands are linked by
causeways or bridges.
descriptions of the main populated islands by following the links at
the left of this page, but following is a brief outline.
18000) is the largest and
most northerly, with imposing sea-cliffs to the north east and the
west. There are magnificent beaches, especially to the north
west, some of which are excellent for surfing. Inland there
extensive areas of moorland, which rises to the dramatic Clisham
mountain range at the border between Lewis and Harris (which are
actually a single landmass).
The main town
(population including local villages about 12,000) is the 'capital' of
the Hebrides and has shopping, hotels, restaurants and most other
facilities you would expect to find in a small county town. Outside
Stornoway, the villlages and townships are small - typically, towns
have a few hundred inhabitants amd villages less still.
Isle of Harris (pop 2000)
is not actually a separate island to Lewis - the boundary between the
two runs over land between Loch Shiphoirt and Loch
Harris is a
mountainous terrain, rising to 799 metres close to its northenmost
point, and further rocky interior in the south. The west
has some of the finest shell-sand beaches in the Outer Hebrides,
while the east coast has many inlets and
townships of any size in Harris are Tarbert and Leverburgh.
There is a
crossing to the Uists on the ferry which winds its way through the many
outcrops in the shallow Sound of Harris.
land at the idyllic island of Berneray (pop 135), which measures about
3 miles by 1.5 miles and is well worth exploring. Cross then
a causeway to North Uist (pop 1300) , a fertile island dotted with many
inland lochs and having sandy beaches on the west coast. The hills here
are more rolling and the RSPB maintains a reserve at Balranald. It's
often possible to see otters on the east coast. Main township
the ferry port of Lochmaddy.
way of the tiny island of Grimsay to Benbecula (pop 1200), the land
becomes flatter. The green farmland is flanked by
and shallow bays to the west and the main town, Balavanich, has an
airport with flights to/from Glasgow, Barra and Stornoway.
you cross the causeway from Benbecula to South Uist (pop 1800), you
become aware of the land rising again down the spine of the island,
where the highest point is 620 metres. Virtually the entire
Atlantic coast is now boredered by machair and shell sand beaches.
Passing the ferry port of Lochboisdale, you arrive at the
coast with stunning views across the Sound of Barra, as you drive from
Polochar to Eriskay, the last island of this linked group. Eriskay is a
mass of wild flowers in late spring and summer. and was the location at
which the SS Politician sank, shedding much of its cargo of
minutes) takes you to Barra (pop 1100). This is another idyllic island,
which some say offers every aspect of the Outer Hebrides within its
7mile length by 3 mile width - you'll certainly find enchanting shell
beaches, machair, steep hillsides, historic features and charming,
may be reached by ferry from Tarbert or from
Uist), depending on your direction of travel through the Hebrides.
Quite different to any of the Outer Hebridean
islands, Skye is very
mountainous, with several peaks up to almost 1000 metres.
considerably more forested areas, so the area more closely resembles
the Highlands. Much of the coastline includes towering cliffs, though
there are a number of sandy beaches. Accessible from the
ferry from Mallaig or via the Skye bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh, you
can start or finish a Hebridean Hopscotch holiday in Skye, or visit
en-route through the Outer Hebrides.
Read more about Lewis
Read more about Harris
Read more about Skye
Read more about The Uists
Read more about Barra
- Birdwatching - Boat Trips - Ceilidhs - Crafts - Culture - Cycling -
Dining Out - Fishing - Golf - Guided Tours - History - Just sitting,
admiring the view - Music - Nature Reserves - Photography - Pony
Trekking - Swiss Ball - Tennis - Theatre - Touring - Walking - Whisky
tasting - Wildlife - Yoga