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Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch Self Guided Holiday
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Highlights

  • The stunning white sand beaches of Barra.
  • The "sea of land and land of lochs" that is Uist.
  • Fantastic opportunities to spot majestic sea eagles and otters.
  • The timeless history of Lewis.
  • The almost lunar landscape of rugged Harris.

Explore the stunning and remote 130 mile chain of Islands that stretch along the North Western Coast of Scotland on this fantastic drive-hike adventure. Follow the route by car and ferry with daily walks through a mosaic of differing landscapes.

The trip comprises 6 full days and 7 nights travelling from rugged compact Barra in the far South through to the exposed ’Butt of Lewis’ jutting out into the North Atlantic. There is no set itinerary, you may choose where and when you walk, but we provide you with suggested options for each day. This trip is suitable for those with use of a car as there is little public transport and many of the walks are remote.

You will pass through changing scenery as you move through the islands and each day allows you to enjoy the indigenous flora and fauna, perfectly adapted to this wild and beautiful region of Scotland. Glorious white sand beaches border the dramatic hills and moorlands cover the land providing the ultimate in solitude and tranquillity for the discerning walker. The natural splendour is in perfect harmony with the ancient historical wonders that adorn the islands, affording opportunities to explore the awe inspiring heritage that abounds.

The trip includes your ferry crossings from Oban on the Scottish mainland to the Isle of Barra, your ferries as per the itinerary through the Islands to Lewis and also back to Ullapool on the mainland. Each night you will be accommodated in guest house accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis. Car hire is not included but if you wish we can book as an additional option.

Day 1: Ferry from Oban to Barra

You will arrive in Barra via the Calmac ferry at the port of Castlebay. You will make your way to your accommodation for 2 nights. At only 8 miles long by 4 miles wide the rugged beauty of the interior with the 383 metre peak of Heaval surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches is a site to behold. Indeed Barra recently came first place in a ‘Most Beautiful Island’ competition. Following your first night in your hand picked accommodation you will be ready to enjoy the delights of this most attractive little island.


Overnight: Barra


Day 2: Walking on Barra

While you are free to explore at your leisure we suggest the following walk:


Isle of Vatersay

At only 3 miles in both length and width, the island is a mix of moorland machair squeezed together in the middle by glorious beaches. Even with ease of access by causeway the quiet and peaceful nature prevails. South Bay is a delight and the views across the Sound of Sandray are superb.


Overnight: Barra


Day 3: Travel to South Uist

Following breakfast in Barra you are ready to travel Northward to the next Island in the chain, South Uist. From the ferry port of Ard Mhor a 40 minute journey takes you to the port of Eriskay actually a small island itself now connected to South Uist. You will make your way to your accommodation for 1 night and if time allows you are well placed to take in a lovely walk on your arrival day. Alternatively you can relax in your accommodation until the following morning when the many options to explore both South and North Uist and the interlinked islands of Eriskay and Benbecula are open to you. This region is a land of moors and lochs overlooked by peaks jutting from a mountainous spine. The beaches of the west are strands of silver sand washed by crystal clear water and rolling surf.


Walking on South Uist

Once again you may explore the area as you wish though we suggest the following walk:


Island of Eriskay

Evidently not on South Uist proper it would be a shame to miss this beautiful walk as you will have a chance to savour stunning views across the island. Further it was on Eriskay that the famous cargo of 20,000 cases of Whisky were liberated from the sunken ‘Politician’ in 1914 and immortalized in Compton Mackenzie’s ‘Whisky Galore’. On a natural note you may be lucky to spot a white tailed sea eagle and enjoy a vista of Skye and the small Isles. This 3 mile walk is a great way to enjoy the region.


Overnight: South Uist


Day 4: Walking on North Uist

Driving North from South Uist you cross the causeway that takes you through the flat peat moors of the Island of Benbecula and out along a further causeway to your next stopping point, North Uist. While the east of the Island is indented with rocky bays the east is blessed with glorious beaches. We suggest the following walk:


Balranard RSPB Nature Reserve

This area designated to preserve the natural environment is also an area given over to traditional crofting methods. The walk affords perfect opportunities to encounter wildlife from dramatic birds of prey to the inquisitive seals that breed on nearby islands.


Overnight: North Uist


Day 5: Travel to Harris

After your second night on the Uists you will travel by ferry to the Isle of Harris via the Berneray to Leverburgh crossing. Following the 1 hour ferry journey you may now travel to your next nights accommodation or if time allows take in a walk.


Walking on Harris

The landscape is one of mountains with rugged terrain. In fact the name comes from the old Norse ‘Na Hearadh’ meaning ‘high land’. On the west coast are some of the most wonderful beaches in the British Isles which stretch out in harmonious tranquillity with the flora filled machair of the interior. With it’s wild ‘un-tamed’ north, rocky bay littered east coast of ancient geology and wide sandy strands the options seem endless. We suggest the following walks:


Hushinis & Crabhadail Beaches

On the far west of Harris this exhilarating 4.5 mile walk provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy lovely views of the small island of Scarp, once home to 200 people but uninhabited since the early 1970s. 


The Eagle Observatory

This 3 mile walk offers a good chance to see upland birds including the golden and sea eagle. More than 20 pairs of golden eagles make their home in the mountains of North Uist, and this walk to the hide is one of the very best places to spot them.


Overnight: Harris


Days 6 & 7: Walking on Lewis

Following your one nights stay on Harris you will move north into Lewis where you will be accommodated for two nights. Lewis, the largest of the Western Isles is absolutely full of world famous archaeological sites sited in a landscape of wild moorland and magnificent coastal headlands and beaches. With so many walks to take in we suggest the following options:


Callanish Stones

Perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of the incredible array of archaeological sites that abound are the Callanish stones and associated stone circles. A 2.5 mile walk in the area allows to travel back in time to a Neolithic age and is highly recommended.


Butt of Lewis

The most northerly point of Lewis, this 4 mile walk allows you experience the dramatic seascapes and coastal geology as if you were on the edge of the World. At the Butt, a 19th Century lighthouse provides a focus point from which to admire the views and to listen to the cacophony of the seabirds.


Overnight: Lewis on both nights


Day 8: Ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool

On this final day you will take the ferry from Stornoway on Lewis to Ullapool on the Scottish Mainland. Following the 2.5 hour ferry crossing the trip is complete and you may make your own way from here on.

Accommodation

We specifically choose the guesthouses to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.


Single Rooms

This independent walking holiday is available to solo walkers. If you require single rooms in your party we will of course try to accommodate your request, subject to availability and at a supplement.


Meals

A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively your info pack includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your info pack will of course have details.

Time of year

We offer this trip between the March and October. In our opinion there is no bad time for walking on the Outer Hebrides but would especially recommend the spring and autumn.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This holiday is available to solo travellers, although a single supplement is payable. If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single supplement is payable.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Most of the route and walks are not way marked so you should be able to read a map and follow route descriptions closely. We supply a walking guidebook with route descriptions so you shouldn’t have any problem finding your way.


Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate. The trails follows footpaths, bridleways, coastal trails, open fields and some minor roads. The walks may involve some relatively steep ascent and descents and days of up to 5 miles walking.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent/ descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.


Getting to and from the Outer Hebrides

Your trip includes ferry crossings from Oban on the mainland to Barra, crossings to South Uist, Harris and from Stornoway in Lewis to Ullapool on the Scottish mainland. Times may be seen on the Calmac ferry website  http://www.calmac.co.uk/

Included

  • 7 Nights of hand-picked bed and breakfast accommodation.
  • A detailed info pack, and guidebook with map for the group leader.
  • Ferry crossings as per itinerary - (1 car per booking).
  • Emergency telephone support from our office.

Excluded

  • Travel to Oban and back from Ullapool.
  • Travel to the start or from the finish of the walks.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal Equipment.

Extras

  • Single room supplement.
  • Car hire - we can arrange if required.
  • Accommodation upgrades.
  • Additional nights at each location on the itinerary.
  • Additional pre tour accommodation in Oban.
  • Additional post tour accommodation in Ullapool.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are often asked the following questions and hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact our team should you require any further information.

How fit do I need to be?

As you are will be walking on varied terrain and for up to 5 miles per day a reasonable level of fitness is required.

Do I need to be able to navigate?

Yes, the walks are not waymarked and pass through areas with vague paths you will need to be competent with a map and compass.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Outer Hebrides can become popular over the summer months. We will always try and accommodate your plans.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better and the midges have not yet appeared. Although having walked the Islands in the summer we believe any time between March and October offers a wonderful experience.

What are the midges like?

Midges are small biting insects (much like north American gnats or blackfly) which are prevalent in the summer months. They are particularly bad on still, overcast days but do not bother you if you are moving, the wind is blowing, sun is shining, it’s raining, or you are inside so as long as you carry repellent for the odd occasion you may need it they shouldn’t have any impact on your experience.

Am I able to take my dog?

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets and several sections of the islands are closed to dogs due to breeding birds.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
macs adventureOuter Hebrides Island Hopscotch
 
4.7

(based on 9 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Well organised (7)
  • Great accommodations (6)
  • Once in a lifetime experience (4)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Holiday (6)
  • Relaxation (5)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Occasional traveller (4)

Reviewed by 9 customers

Displaying reviews 1-9

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

take the hassle out of your trip

By Jon

from St Albans

Verified Buyer

Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

It was a longstanding ambition to visit the Outer Hebrides but it seemed a daunting place to organise a visit to. In particular it seemed difficult to co-ordinate the ferries and the accommodation and to have a sense of how long to spend in each place. The Macs tour did all this for you and recommended places to see and walk along the way. All the accommodation was very good and the walks were interesting. If you want to go to the Outer Hebrides but are stuck with where to start then I would absolutely recommend this tour.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

A wonderful experience

By Bill the Aussie

from Sydney

About Me World Traveller

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Fun
  • Great Accommodations
  • Well Organised

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Holiday
    • Relaxation

    Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

    This was a lovely journey through the Outer Hebrides. We were fortunate to enjoy several days of brilliant sunshine (in September!). Macs organisation was, as always, brilliant and the accommodation was generally superb. Macs were also very responsive and attentive when we needed to change the times of our ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool and were even contactable on weekends. We were very impressed with the way Macs monitored our journey and let us know of any potential problems. Because of very bad weather, it was likely that our ferry from Oban to Barra was going to be cancelled - Macs knew about this and contacted our B&B to arrange an extra night's accommodation in case of cancellation - in the end we did sail after a few hours delay. That is real service and was much appreciated. With Macs, their service does not end with the payment - it keeps going!

     
    5.0

    recommend of this trip

    By Marcel

    from Switzerland

    About Me Occasional Traveller

    Pros

    • Great Accommodations
    • Once in a Lifetime Experience
    • Well Organised

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Holiday
      • Relaxation

      Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

      Great scenery and nice people.
      Very professional organisation.

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Trip to the Isles

      By Happy David

      from Kenilworth

      About Me Occasional Traveller

      Pros

      • Great Accommodations
      • Lots Of Nature History
      • New Experiences
      • Once in a Lifetime Experience
      • Well Organised

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Holiday
        • Relaxation
        • Seeing A New Environmen
        • Seeing New Environments

        Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

        Ferries & accommodation well organised. Book of walks and map gave enough suggestions to enable us to plan. Excellent help given in booking emergency accommodation when ferry cancelled due to rough seas. Range of hotels/guest houses and situations nicely varied. scenery was marvellous, sea & freshwater lochs, Mountains, Moors, seaviews, beautiful empty beaches. We had a really good look at the islands of the Outer Hebrides each with its own character.

         
        5.0

        Walking the macchair between sea and sky

        By Nolly

        from Aberdeenshire

        About Me Explore Areas New To Me, Getting To Know Scotland, World Traveller

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Amazing Views
        • Choice Of Where To Go
        • Fun
        • Great Accommodations
        • Once in a Lifetime Experience
        • Peaceful
        • Well Organised
        • Wonderful Scenery Flowers

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Being Alone
          • Holiday
          • Relaxation
          • Trying Something New

          Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

          I enjoyed having the travel and accommodation booked for me and it was all good.
          What varying habitats, history, archaeology,,lovely people,hosts were very helpful and plenty to do even in bad weather.
          Driving is challenging but I enjoyed it.
          Bad weather would restrict activities but there is no control over that.

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Great holiday in this stunning area.

          By Wee Coodgy

          from Bishopbriggs

          Pros

          • Good Food Throughout

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • History
            • Wildlife

            Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

            This is an excellent way to see the Outer Hebrides which has so much to offer. The accommodation was excellent as was the service from the friendly staff.
            Great service provided by Cal-Mac with ferries on time. The crossing from Berneray to Leverburgh is one not to be missed.
            Some of the walks suggested were very special indeed offering some incredible landscapes. Wildlife was abundant.
            However the Butt of Lewis walk (no.1 in guidebook) refers to a police station which is now closed with all signage removed. Only slightly confusing, but worth highlighting.
            Also found the guidebook instructions for walk 30 (Eriskay)ambiguous making it easy to miss the planned route.

            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            We had an excellent holiday.

            By Rainbow Petal

            from Cheshire

            About Me Knowledge Seeker, Occasional Traveller

            Pros

            • Great Accommodations
            • Knowledge And Culture
            • Well Organised

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Holiday
              • Relaxation
              • Wildlife And Geology

              Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

              Walk number 37 in the walks book (Eoligarry)was a disppointment as we came across new barbed wire fences so we couldn't get off the beach to do the hills. We had to return along the beach.
              The Lochmaddy Hotel (a necessary change through no fault of your own)wasn't as good as described. It was 'neglected' and poorly maintained. Not to be recommended. Not on a par with the other accommodation.
              'Heron Point' B&B was wonderful so perhaps we were spoiled. The breakfast was incredible!!
              Shame about the wet windy weather but we had an excellent walk to the Butt of Lewis on the last day. Landscapes and geology amazing.

               
              5.0

              Sea, Sand, Mountains and Wildlife

              By Blue Dollphin

              from Essex

              About Me Average Holiday Maker

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Excellent Food
              • Great Accommodations
              • Once in a Lifetime Experience
              • Well Organised

              Cons

              • Too much to see in time

              Best Uses

              • Holiday
              • Trying Something New
              • Wildlife and beaches

              Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

              Excellent way to get a taster of the Outer Hebrides. Too much to see in the time available and would love to go back for another trip. Wildlife fantastic. Basking sharks, dolphins, whales, otters, sea eagles, hen harriers, corn crakes and more.
              Accommodations was great and the standard of the meals was excellent. Driving was wonderfully quite and the ferries were punctual. The local people were all very welcoming and incredibly helpful. Didn't manage to get a trip to St Kilda but may be next time.
              Thank you for a fabulous holiday.

              (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Marvellous. We shall return!

              By Big Red

              from Reading

              About Me Occasional Traveller

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Well Organised

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Challenging

                Comments about macs adventure Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch:

                The Good News. Barra and Harris were beautiful islands and we will return to Harris. There was so much to see and do in the short time we were there. Heathbank Hotel on Barra was an all round excellent place to stay. The Harris Hotel and Loch Roag on Lewis were also very good indeed. We were impressed by Cally Mac, the ferries were clean, and on time. They provide a great service. Many of the walks were pretty challenging which we enjoyed.The Less than Good News. Barra needs to sort out its paths. Signage is poor and the paths overgrown. They need to invest in this aspect of their tourism product.[...]

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