MacAdventures did a great job of arranging travel and accommodation at a time of the year when some ferries and much accommodation fully booked.
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.
Pass through changing scenery as you move between the islands, and enjoy the indigenous flora and fauna, perfectly adapted to this wildly beautiful region of Scotland. Glorious white sand beaches border the dramatic hills and moorlands cover the land providing an atmosphere of solitude and tranquility for the discerning walker. The natural splendour is in perfect harmony with the ancient historical wonders adorning the islands.
The trip includes your ferry crossings from Oban, on the Scottish mainland, to the Isle of Barra, the ferries as per the itinerary through the islands up to Lewis, and finally from Stornoway to Ullapool on the mainland. Each night you will be accommodated in B&Bs and guest houses on a bed and breakfast basis. Car hire is not included but if you wish we can book this as an additional option.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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 be able 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 and water 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.
These are some of the accommodation providers that we use most often.
This 4 star guest house set on the hill in Oban overooking the bay is a great place to spend the night before heading off on your Hebridean adventure. William and Linda will make you feel most welcome!
At Sealladh na Mara you're guaranteed a warm island welcome and comfortable stay in their modern 3 star accommodation with wonderful ocean views.
A lovely B&B overlooking Lochboisdale and offering a high standard of accommodation in a tranquil setting just a 10 minute drive from the beach. The B&B is also close to a couple of hotels and shops.
One of the finest and most popular small hotels on North Uist, the Langass Lodge possesses character and charm which sits peacefully and calmly with the qualities of its surroundings.
Overlooking Loch Direcleit the guest house has a spacious living area and cosy rooms where you can relax and revel in its remote location.
Situated in Tarbert, the village capital of Harris, the hotel is a hub for visitors and locals alike. Look out for their attention to detail in the form of Harris Tweed accents.
This 4 star B&B is family-owned and run, and located just a 5 minute drive from the Stornoway ferry terminal. Relax and enjoy a touch of luxury before returning to the mainland.
TLocated just 2 miles from the iconic Callanish Stones, Loch Roag is perfect base for exploring Lewis. The breakfast room has wonderfull views over the windswept Lewisian landscape.
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.
A note on departure dates in the shoulder season: From 1st-28th March and after the 22nd October 2019 the limited Calmac ferry timetable for the Oban to Castlebay route means you cannot begin the trip on Thurdsay or Saturday. Please check to make sure the ferry timetable fits in with your plans prior to travelling.
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.
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.
Mobile phone signal reception varies depending on network provider throughout the route, however if making an emergency call
your phone will connect through any available network provider.
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.
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.
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/
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.
As you are will be walking on varied terrain and for up to 5 miles per day a reasonable level of fitness is required.
Yes, the walks are not waymarked and pass through areas with vague paths you will need to be competent with a map and compass.
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.
You will need good walking boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.
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.
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.
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.
MacAdventures did a great job of arranging travel and accommodation at a time of the year when some ferries and much accommodation fully booked.
The accomodations were very well chosen except for one, At Barra we stayed in a pod, which stood in the garden next to the hotel. In the actual bedroom as well as in the bathroom was verry little space and no means of hanging a coat or your wet towel. Before making a booking we asked MacsAdventure if the amount of nights booked would be sufficient. They said it was. But although we added one more night on Harris we think it would be better to recommend some more nights, especially on Uist and Lewis.
Great way to explore the islands and their different characters. Amazing beaches and wildlife.
Our experience with the Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch Tour was mixed. We'd booked to visit all 5 islands in the course of a week, but on Day 1 our ferry from Oban to Castlebay (Barra) did not run...nor did it run for the next 2 days. This was not Macs Adventures fault at all, and they were instantly responsive, found us a very nice night's accommodation in Oban and then re-routed us via Skye where we spent 2 great days (B&B was not so great, but very short notice and Easter holiday week). We finally got to the last 2 islands and had a wonderful time, though the accommodation varied a lot - some fabulous places and some...not so great. We are pretty serious hikers and did not find the suggested hikes all that challenging or interesting, so we bought a booklet on our own and found some excellent walks.
We loved this trip and love travelling in October. The Outer Hebrides are remote enough to keep tourists away in October so there were many places, such as the stunningly beautiful beaches of Harris, we were the only ones there! Every day we had patch of perfect walking weather ranging from stormy to gorgeously sunny. The accommodation was all very good and some really special. Without exception, the hosts were friendly and offered local knowledge about great places to eat and things to do. We were happy to plan a couple of extra days for relaxation, even though the walking was easy pretty much everywhere. Definitely bring good rain gear if you want to walk the Hebrides in the fall!
This holiday was a good introduction to touring as we have often said we would like to have a touring holiday and never got round to it and as it was a last minute decision it was the easiest thing to do, it gave us an insight as to what to expect, the scenery was beautiful and the people on all the Islands are very welcoming and eager to help make your holiday even more enjoyable with local knowledge and history, we found the accommodations were mixed, some were very nice and some not (very basic), we will do a tour holiday again but would organize it ourselves mainly for the accommodation.
Out and abouters
Thanks to Cara for her help in setting up the whole trip. She called to warn us that there could be a problem with the ferry from Oban due to the gale coming in, but the ferry sailed in time . Just! All were cancelled next day!!
This holiday is a perfect "tasting plate" for the Outer Hebrides. Very well organised. Attention to detail was excellent - walks, accommodation, ferry bookings - everything fell into place! Great walks! Lots of space! Lovely galleries! Landscape! It has it all!!!!
Paul and Shirley
The accomadation was very good and all the hosts very helpful and welcoming . Barra B.B. simply stunning .south Uist very nice host but the back garden was full of scrap metal etc and not a pleasant outlook. Langass lodge great , tarbert hotel good , Janel ,very nice roomy accommodation and very helpful host who gave us a correct tip for the Grand National !
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.