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Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch

8 Days & 7 Nights 4.6 Read 19 reviews
  • Hike to the high point of Barra for unrivaled views of Kisimul Castle in the bay below
  • Discover the "sea of land and land of lochs" that are the Uists
  • Admire the long stretches of white sand beach and rugged hills of Harris
  • Walk among the mysterious Neolithic standing stones of Callanish on Lewis
  • Sample renowned local gin and feast on delicious Hebridean seafood
Discover the beautiful and far flung Outer Hedridean archipelago on this self-guided drive & hike walking holiday. This remote island chain off Scotland's north west coast is brimming with great walks, wildlife watching opportunities, and fascinating historical sites dating back to Neolithic times all connected by scenic stretches of road. With ferry travel included undertake an island-hopping adventure from the mainland to Barra, in the southern reaches of the archipelago, onto the Uists, and north to Harris and Lewis before returning to the mainland. Explore the Hebridean landscape on short optional hikes; from stretches of white sand beaches washed by crystal clear surf and bordered by flower-strewn machair, to rugged moorland, dramatic cliffs, and rocky coves. End each day with a warm welcome at your accommodation and delicious local cuisine.
This relaxed drive & hike trip taking in the far flung Outer Hebridean archipelago is perfect for the first-time walker and experienced hiker looking for a more easy-going experience. Stay in cosy, welcoming accommodations with or nearby great dining options - expect to see a lot of fresh seafood on the menu! Spend your days as you wish, discovering this wonderful island chain on largely short optional walks, that allow plenty of time for taking in the many cultural highlights along the way. Enjoy scenic ferry journeys along the way as you island hop your way north between Barra and Lewis.

Tour Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent tour.

Activity:

Drive & Hike | Enjoy the best of a large region by car and on foot. Day hikes in the best places. Itinerary usually inn to inn, with mapping provided. No bag transfer. Car hire offered as an option or included.

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travelers, First Timers

As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveler this tour would be suitable for is: 12 Years

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Wildlife
  • Coastal & Island

Inspiration:

  • Most Popular
  • Classic

Activity Level & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate. The routes follow a mixture of footpaths, tracks, coastal trails, open fields and some minor roads. Some walks involve relatively steep ascent and descents, for example Heaval on Barra, but at only 383m high you can take your time and still have plenty of time to enjoy the views from the top. Most recommended walks are from 4-7 km in length, meaning you can take in a walk and see the sights or walk multiple routes in a day depending on your preference.

Paths in the Outer Hebrides are often not well-signposted so some navigation skills are needed. We have choosen popular walks in the regions so most routes will be easy to follow.

Navigation

Most of the routes 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. Although the route isn't on our app yet you can access digital mapping with GPS location (that works offline on airplane mode) on our free Macs Adventure smartphone app. 

Accommodations

Be assured that we have found the best, most suitable accommodations in each location along the way. As options are limited in the Western Isles this means you'll be staying in a variety of accommodations en route; from clean and comfortable B&B's, to country inns, and 3* hotels. Please be prepared for these different scenarios. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and a tasty breakfast.

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This self-guided drive and hike 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

Breakfast is included each morning, although please note that most, but not all, accommodations provide a full cooked breakfast as standard. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your info pack and route notes include details of local shops and convenient lunch stops along the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants.

The Outer Hebrides are still a remote place to travel to and some towns, in particular, observe the Christian Sabbath - this means that many shops and restaurants can be closed on a Sunday. We recommend buying picnic lunches/snacks and checking your dinner options ahead of time to avoid disappointment. On Sundays booking dinner is usually essential, and is recommended on other nights whenever possible. 

Included
  • 7 Nights in hand-picked B&B's, guest houses & small hotels
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Information pack, guidebook, route notes and road map
  • Ferry crossings as per itinerary (1 car per booking included as standard)
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our office
Excluded
  • Travel to Oban and back from Ullapool
  • Fuel costs
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks & drinks
  • Car hire - we can arrange this for you if required
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance (required)
Extras
  • Additional nights at each location on the itinerary
  • Car hire - we can arrange this for you if required
  • Pre-tour accommodation in Oban
  • Post-tour accommodation in Ullapool

When To Go

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 when the roads are slightly quieter.

A note on departure dates in the shoulder season: Limited ferry timetables for the Oban to Castlebay route in March and from mid-October mean that it's not possible to begin the trip on Thursdays or Saturdays. 

Weather and Climate

The weather in Scotland is generally very variable from day to day. The Outer Hebrides lie off the north west coast of the mainland exposed to the weather coming off the Atlantic Ocean meaning the weather here can vary hugely even in one day. We recommend checking the local forecast the evening before, and morning of, the day you are heading out so you can be prepared for the day ahead. In a day with variable weather you can expect a bit of everything from showers, high winds, low cloud, to clear skies and rainbows. However, on a more settle day you can expect beautiful blue skies that transform the white sand beaches and turquoise seas into a Bahamas-esque landscape (although a little chillier!). 

In general you can expect average temperatures of 50-61 degrees Fahrenheit over the summer season with July and August being the warmest at 61 degrees Fahrenheit on average. The driest months of the year are from April to August with May and June tending to be the driest on average with 0.45 inches of precipitation per month. 

Getting to the Start

The Outer Hebrides are located off Scotland's north west coast. Your trip includes ferry crossings from Oban (on the mainland) to Barra the first larger island in the archipelago. As this is drive & hike trip it's easiest to access Oban by road from Glasgow drive north on the A92 to Tyndrum then turn west on the A85 (2 hr 20 mins), alternatively from Edinburgh follow the M9 west, to join the A84 and onto the A85 (3 hr). If travelling from Inverness drive south west on the A82, A828 and A85 to reach Oban (2 hr 45 mins). 

If arranging car hire with us your pick-up point can be tailored to suit your needs. Oban has a train stataion and is well-served by bus links to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Check the Scotrail and Citylink Bus websites for more details. 

The following Calmac ferry journeys are included in your trip; Oban to Bara, and crossings to South Uist, Harris and finally from Stornoway on Lewis to Ullapool on the Scottish mainland. 

Getting from the End

The Calmac ferry from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis to Ullapool on the mainland (2.5 hrs) is inlcuded in your trip. If you have time we recommend spending some time in the unique mountain landscape of Torridon and Sutherland.

Ullapool is a small town on the north west coast of Scotland, a 1hr 15 min drive from Inverness making this a great add on to your trip. Otherwise, it's a 4 hr 15 min drive south to Glasgow or 4hrs 10 mins to Edinburgh. There are plenty of fuel stations along the way, and some good places to stop to split the journey are Inverness, Aviemore, Dunkeld, Pitlochry, and Perth.

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 that 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.

Phone Reception

Mobile phone signal varies depending on network provider and you'll frequestly be without internet signal. However, if making an emergency call your phone will connect through any available network provider.

Equipment

We provide a full recommended kit list in your information pack on booking. However, you will need waterproofs (jacket and trousers), warm layers, gloves, hat, cap or sunglasses, sunscreen, casual clothes and shoes for the evenings along with good walking socks and walking boots or shoes depending on your preference. A daypack of 20-30 litres (with dry bags or waterproof cover) should be more than ample for carrying your food and water along with spare layers for the day. Walking poles can also be a helpful addition to any kit list. You might also wish bring binoculars for wildife encounters, and a camera to document your trip.

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.

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Itinerary

Day 1 Ferry from Oban to Barra Day 2 Explore Barra and Vatersay 4 miles / 6 km Day 3 Depart Barra by ferry for South Uist 3 miles / 5 km Day 4 Walking on the Uists and overnight North Uist 4 miles / 6 km Day 5 Depart North Uist by ferry for Harris 3 miles / 5 km Day 6 Walking on Harris and Lewis and overnight on Lewis 2.5 miles / 4 km Day 7 Walking on Lewis 7 miles / 11 km Day 8 Depart Lewis by ferry for Ullapool and onward travel

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