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Discover Scotland’s remote North West on this drive & hike tour. From the shores of Loch Ness travel across to Skye and the Outer Hebrides and explore the rugged landscape of the North West Highlands. Follow the roads and trails less travelled on this voyage into the far reaches of Scotland.
Drive from the thriving city of Inverness along the banks of Loch Ness, passing Castle Urquhart en route to Skye. Stop and admire Eilean Donan Castle and cross the Skye Bridge to overnight in the pretty harbour town of Portree. Walk the Fairy Pools circuit in the Cuillin mountains and explore the iconic Old Man of Storr as you head to Uig for the ferry to the Outer Hebrides.
Watch out for dolphins and whales as you sail across the Minch to Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. Perhaps visit the famed Harris Tweed factory or head straight out to explore the Isle of Scalpay. Drive north to explore the iconic 5000 year old Callanish Stone Circle on the Isle of Lewis. Overnight in Borve near wide white sand beaches and then journey to the Butt of Lewis and its bird-filled cliffs at the Hebrides’ most northerly point.
Take the afternoon ferry across to the mainland to overnight in the port of Ullapool. Suitably rested, drive north into the wild north west Sutherland region. Head to the top of Scotland across the flow country to Durness and Bettyhill on the north coast with an optional visit and walk en route to the island wildlife reserve of Handa. Moving onward perhaps tick off John O’Groats and head south via the moors and peaks to arrive in Inverness for the final night. If time permits explore the battle field of Culloden or take a boat trip out in the Moray Firth to spot dolphins.
Our Skye, Outer Hebrides & North West Highlands drive & hike tour includes 7 nights hand-picked accommodation in high quality B&B’s, country inns, and guesthouses with breakfast included, ferry crossings between Uig and Tarbert and from Stornoway to Ullapool (car and passengers), route notes, detailed maps, a pre-departure information pack and 24-7 emergency support are all part of the package.
Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, is divided by the salmon-filled waters of the River Ness on the shores of the Moray Firth. There is plenty to explore including Inverness Castle, nearby Culloden battlefield or perhaps take a cruise on Loch Ness.
Inverness is easily accessible by rail from Glasgow (3h20) or Edinburgh (3h30) or by air from several Scottish and UK airports. Make your own way to your first night’s accommodation.
Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Inverness
Departing Inverness by car, you enter the Great Glen and are soon following the shores of Loch Ness. Take time to look out over the serene waters from iconic Castle Urquhart and maybe indulge in a little monster spotting before heading north west amidst the peaks. A highlight of the day is the opportunity to visit photogenic 13th century Eileen Donan Castle, perfectly located on its own tidal island in Loch Duich.
Moving onward you soon cross over the bridge to the magical, misty Isle of Skye. If time permits, a walk to the crystal clear ‘Fairy Pools’ in the shadow of the sky scraping summits of the Cuillin mountains is highly recommended. Finish the day in the pretty port of Portree.
Walk: Fairy Pools 8km (5 miles), Ascent/Descent: 360m
Drive: 113 miles / 2hrs 35 mins
Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Portree
An early start is the order of the day as you drive to Uig. Stretching north from Portree the Trotternish Peninsula is an atmospheric land of dark brooding cliffs and bizarre rock formations. Stop to admire the natural rock spire of the Storr, before reaching Uig. Set sail on the ferry keep an eye out for marine mammals as you cross to Tarbet on the Isle of Harris (duration approx. 1h40).
Welcome to the Outer Hebrides; a landscape filled with mountains with rugged terrain. In fact the name Harris comes from the old Norse ‘Na Hearadh’ meaning ‘high land'.
Drive alongside the beautiful west coast beaches which edge the flora filled machair of the interior. A highly recommended walk is around the Isle of Scalpay. An island in it’s own right, though connected to Harris by a causeway, you have the opportunity to enjoy a 7 mile circular walk taking in the rocky coastline providing a sanctuary for sea birds and otters.
Walk: Isle of Scalpay 10km (6 miles), Ascent/Descent: 199m
Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Tarbert
Drive: 40 miles / 90 mins
Following your night on Harris you will move north into Lewis, the largest of the Western Isles. Explore this breath-taking landscape of wild moorland, magnificent coastal headlands and pristine beaches.
Perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of the incredible array of archaeological sites on Lewis are the Callanish stones and associated stone circles. A 2.5 mile walk in the area allows you to travel back in time to a Neolithic age and is highly recommended.
Walk: Callanish Stones 3.75km (2.5 miles), Ascent/Descent: 48m
Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Callanish/ Borve
Drive: 72 miles / 2 hours
It is worth starting early today so that you can enjoy a walk in the most northerly point of the Outer Hebrides; the Butt of Lewis. 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
An hour’s drive brings you to Stornoway, the largest town in the Outer Hebrides and home to the famous eponymous black pudding! Board the ferry across to the mainland (duration approx. 2h45) keeping watch for plunge diving gannets.
There is much to explore in the town of Ullapool which has a reputation as a cultural centre for music and the arts.
Walk: Butt of Lewis 6.2km (3.5 miles), Ascent/Descent: 116m
Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Ullapool Drive: 27 miles / 50 mins
Heading north you enter Sutherland, a landscape of stark isolated peaks, pristine beaches and exposed remote headlands. The dual peaks of Ben More Assynt and Conival rise out of the surrounding flow country leading you on to salmon rich Loch Assynt, nestled between the heights of Canisp and Quinag.
Moving on you arrive at the northern most coastline of the UK mainland. One of the most sparsely inhabited parts of Britain, you may have the landscape all to yourself. Dramatic cliffs stand steadfast against the crashing waves and craggy summits overlook this magical wilderness, home to soaring golden eagles. Perhaps take a boat out to the Isle of Handa, a Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve and home to a multitude of sea birds (seasonal boat trip, payable locally).
Finish your day’s adventure in the village of Durness, site of the famous Smoo Cave.
Walk: Handa Island 6.5km (4 miles), Ascent/Descent: 120m
Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Durness
Drive: 68 miles / 1hr 45 mins
Leaving Durness, you may be tempted to drive east to one of the most northerly settlements in mainland Britain, John O’Groats (91 miles, 2h30), along the wild coastline to the iconic village. From here it is a 119miles / 2h40 drive south to Inverness along the east coastal road.
An alternative (and in our opinion a more scenic route) takes you south east amidst the summits and lochs of Sutherland to the village of Lairg, the ‘crossroads of the North’. Here you have the opportunity for a walk along the Ord Archaeological Trail passing through sites of pre-history dating back 5,000 years.
Heading south you arrive once again at Inverness and the chance to explore more of this vibrant highland city.
Walk: Ferry Wood and the Ord 5km (3 miles), Ascent/Descent: 85m
Overnight: B&B or Guesthouse in Inverness
Drive: (via Lairg): 105 miles / 2hrs 45 mins
After breakfast your adventure through the North West Highlands is complete and you may arrange for onward travel. There is much to explore in the immediate area and you may wish to take a cruise on the Moray Firth to view the resident bottle nosed dolphins or visit a distillery for a whisky tasting. Please contact us if you would like to extend your time in Scotland.
Included in your trip are 7 nights in rooms with private facilities, in carefully selected accommodation in 3 star B&B’s, guesthouses and small hotels.
We book en suite rooms as standard. If there are no en suite rooms
available in an overnight location, we may book a room with shared
facilities, but we would always inform you in advance if this was the
We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in your
itinerary. Occasionally, because of limited availability, we may have
to accommodate you at an alternative location. In the unlikely event
that we have to accommodate you elsewhere we will advise you of this
before confirming your booking.
This holiday is available to solo walkers, although a solo walker supplement is payable (due to the fact that you are not splitting the cost of the room with another person). 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.
Breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not
included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your
accommodation will often be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on
request and this can be booked on arrival and paid for locally, alternatively your guidebook
also 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 suggestions.
Please note that Skye is exceptionally popular throughout the Summer months. As a result it may be necessary to book upgraded accommodations and / or taxi transfers to accommodate your dates. Your specialist will inform you of this prior to confirming your booking and advise of any supplement payable.
We offer this trip between the beginning of April and the beginning of October. In our opinion there is no bad time for walking in Scotland but would especially recommend the spring and autumn.
This walking holiday is available to solo walkers but there is a solo walker supplement payable. If you require single rooms within your party we will always try and accommodate you subject to availability. A single supplement is payable.
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 guidebook, and route notes with detailed maps so you shouldn’t have any problem finding your way.
This trip is graded Easy to moderate. The trails follows footpaths, coastal trails, bridleways, open fields and some minor roads. The walks may involve some relatively steep ascent and descents and days of up to 8 miles walking.
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.
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.
By Air: Inverness Airport is served by flights from throughout Scotland and the UK as well as several European destinations. For international travellers Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports are are the most convenient.
By Train: Inverness is easily accessible by rail from Glasgow (3hr 20mins) or Edinburgh (3hr 30mins) and from connecting destinations throughout the UK. Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for timetables and tickets.
By Coach: Scottish Citylink operates several services daily from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness. Visit www.citylink.co.uk for details.
By Car: Inverness is 170miles (3 hours) north of Glasgow on the A9. Parking (not secure) is available in Inverness. You can leave your car at some accommodation we use in Inverness but please request this at the time of booking.
Journey Planning: If travelling by public transport the website www.travelinescotland.com has an excellent journey planner.
We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.
With up to 8 miles each day of walking this tour is graded easy to moderate, and is suitable for those with a good level of fitness. We suggest that you might like to start a regular walking programme before you travel, in order to make the most out of your time and walks in Scotland. The suggested walks are not way marked and certain sections may follow indistinct trails across boggy, rough and remote ground. You will be provided with route notes however you should be a competent navigator with map and compass. The route comprises of hill and mountain tracks, riverside trails, minor roads and highland paths. A Road Atlas will be provided so that you can easily find your way on Scotland’s roads and highways.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Highlands are extremely popular especially over May/June and July/August. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof),
comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack
and hats/gloves etc. Our info packs have a list of all equipement to
bring on your walk. You should also bring your driving license with you (both paper and card/photo ID sections)
Traditionally 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 in every summer month I believe any time between late May and October offers a wonderful experience.
Midges are small biting insects (much like north American gnats) 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.
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 way are closed to dogs as they are permissive paths through farm land.
As you will have your car with you (or we can offer a rental car at a supplement) you are free to stop as often as you wish en route or skip a walk and spend time sightseeing instead.
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Comments about macs adventure Skye, Outer Hebrides & NW Highlands:
WE HAD A VERY GOOD TRIP. THE ACCOMMODATION WERE ALL PERFECT. HANDA ISLAND IS A MUST FOR EVERY BIRDLOVER. MAC ADVENTURE SAVED US A LOT OF TIME, DOING ALL THE BOOKINGS AND TOOK US TO ALL THE BEST PLACES. WILL COME AGAIN.