Our specially packaged Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides has proved extremely popular, offering as it does a unique opportunity to travel the length and breadth of the Western Isles.
In response to popular demand we have added a slightly shorter version of the tour which departs from the North East of Scotland – but still takes in all the beauty and diversity of this very special environment. Our grand tour provides the opportunity to visit several stunning islands in just one trip.
Two comfortable hotels ensure that this holiday is as relaxing as possible while at the same time offering great variety and the sense of a true journey of discovery which will live long in the memory.
Our odyssey begins with a drive along the shore of Loch Ness and along the scenic route from Fort William to Mallaig before taking the ferry to Lochboisdale in South Uist and continuing to our hotel in Benbecula. From here we visit the islands of Eriskay; Vatersay with its fantastic sandy beaches, and Barra, including visits to Kisimul Castle and Cockleshell Beach, used as the island’s airport. A captivating journey follows as we travel north by ferry from North Uist and on through the magnificent mountain scenery of Harris and the rolling moorland of Lewis to Stornoway, our base for the next two nights. We continue with visits to the remarkable Standing Stones of Callanish, the tranquil little Norse Mill at Shawbost and the distinctive Black Houses at Gearannan. Our return route takes us by ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool.
Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides Tour Highlights:
- Visits to North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula, Barra, Vatersay, Harris, Lewis, Eriskay & Stornoway
- Blindingly white sandy beaches on South Uist and Vatersay
- The unique airport at Cockleshell Beach
- 5000 year old standing stones
- The tranquil location of the Norse Mill at Shawbost
- Four scenic ferry crossings
- Return coach travel from Aberdeen, Inverurie, Elgin, Forres, Nairn or Inverness
- 2 nights’ accommodation on a dinner, bed and full breakfast basis at the Dark Island Hotel on Benbecula and 2 nights’ accommodation on a dinner, bed and full breakfast basis at the Cabarfeidh Hotel, Stornoway
- Island hop over North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula, Barra, Vatersay, Harris, Lewis & Eriskay
- Visits to the Standing Stones of Callanish, Kisimul Castle, Cockleshell Beach and Vatersay – the film location for the ‘Whisky Galore’ – the Gearannan Black Houses, Shawbost Norse Mill and St Clement’s Church
- Comfortable coaching throughout with ferry transfers
- Services of a professional tour manager
Single supplements apply. Subject to availability.
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Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides Itinerary
We depart from our designated pick-up points, stopping en-route for refreshments (not included) and travel via Loch Ness and Glenfinnan to Mallaig. From here we take the 17.30 ferry to Lochboisdale in South Uist, with dinner served on board. Look out for the Small Isles of Rum and Canna to port and the Cuillin Hills on the Isle of Skye to starboard. On arrival we continue over causeways (keeping a careful eye out for otters) to Benbecula, the ‘stepping stone’ between the Uists, where we arrive in the late evening at our base for the next two nights.
Dinner will be served in the evening.
After our full Scottish breakfast we will depart for Barra, travelling via the little island of Eriskay, just three miles long and two miles wide, with a great sandy beach known as Prince Charlie’s Bay – Bonnie Prince Charlie having landed here in July 1745. From Eriskay we make the short ferry crossing to Barra and have a tour of the island, including a visit by boat to Kisimul Castle, the only surviving medieval castle in the Western Isles and the seat of the Clan MacNeil. The castle features a great hall, kitchen, chapel, dungeon and 60-foot tower, together with a shop. We will also visit Cockleshell Beach, the unique runway whose use is governed by the tides. On approaching the airport keep an eye out to the left for the much loved former home of Sir Compton Mackenzie, the author of ‘Whisky Galore’, which is forever associated with the island. In fact, it was on the neighbouring island of Vatersay, which we will visit by means of the causeway linking the two islands, that the classic film adaptation was made. In the course of our tour today we also hope to see some of the hundreds of species of wild flowers that grow on the island, particularly on the machair, the fertile, grassy pastures that lie between the moorland and the sea.
We return via the Eriskay ferry to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and take the mid-morning ferry from Berneray to Leverburgh at the southern end of Harris and visit St Clement’s Church at Rodel, built on top of an earlier structure in the 16th century by Alasdair Crotach, 8th chief of the Macleods of Harris and Dun Bheagan. The church tombs are among the most spectacular in Scotland. There are outstanding views as we travel along the coast, including the island of Taransay of ‘Castaway’ fame, and the wonderful beaches at Horgabost, Borve and Scarasta. We will pause for refreshments (not included) in Tarbert, before continuing through the mountainous countryside of Harris which eventually gives way to the rolling moorland of Lewis. We continue to the island capital of Stornoway and our comfortable accommodation at the Cabarfeidh Hotel.
Dinner will be served in the evening.
This morning after breakfast we will travel to the west coast of Lewis for a visit to the 5,000 year old Standing Stones of Callanish. Undoubtedly the most remarkable antiquity in the Western Isles, this collection of almost 50 stones forms a well-marked megalithic avenue, comprising 19 monoliths, ending in a circle of 13 stones, with a great cairn at the centre. Entry to the Visitor Centre is included.
From here we move on to the Black Houses at Gearannan, typical of the crofting settlements which until relatively recently were found throughout the Western Isles.
The final visit on our circular tour is the Norse Mill at Shawbost, where barley grain was ground into meal by Viking settlers. A short walk past a small lochan leads to two beautifully restored little thatched buildings with a fine view to the ocean beyond.
Dinner will be served back at our hotel in the evening.
This morning we check out of the hotel and have some free time to relax in Stornoway. You may wish to visit the Lewis Loom Centre, which chronicles history of Harris Tweed. We then take the early afternoon Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool which takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. We then continue our homeward journey, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.