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Day one – Begin your Outer Hebrides Holiday by Crossing the Sea to Barra
A scenic train journey along part of the famous West Highland Line from Glasgow brings you to Oban, where you board the Cal Mac ferry for the lengthy sail across the Hebridean Sea to Castlebay on Barra. Look out for whales and dolphins which sometimes accompany the journey.
Upon arrival at Castlebay, a local driver-guide will meet you at the port and transfer you the short distance to your accommodation.
Your Hotel on Barra
Built as a church mission in the 19th century, in a fine location overlooking Northbay and the villages of Ardveenish and Bruernish, your small hotel on Barra has, in one way or another, been at the centre of the community here for more than 150 years.
Easily reached from both the famously sandy airport, and Castlebay ferry terminal, the hotel served as a guest house in the mid-20th century – during which time cast and crew of 1948 film Whisky Galore! made it their temporary home. It became a hotel in 1974, banishing the village’s ‘dry’ status in the process. A joyous occasion, indeed!
Simple, comfortable rooms with modern, well-equipped ensuites, give way to the cosy, lively bar – a great spot to soak up the local craic and view the activity across the bay. Good food of local produce is served in the evening in both the bar and more peaceful dining room.
Day Two – A Private Guided Tour of Barra
This morning you’ll be met at your hotel by a specially chosen local driver-guide and taken on a full-day private tour of the island. Along the way you’ll experience the eye-popping sight of the regular flight from Glasgow landing on the beach at Cockle Strand. Savour the views from Eoligarry across the sound to Fuday, Eriskay and South Uist. Gaze back at Barra from the battlements of Kisimul Castle on its own islet in Castlebay. Stretch your legs on Tangasdale, or any one of the island’s fine beaches. Perhaps cross the causeway to Vatersay, whose twin beaches are the perfect spot for a picnic and a romantic stroll. The day is yours and the tour is easily tailor-made to your exact wishes.
Day Three – Across the Sound of Barra to Eriskay and Onwards to North Uist
Your driver-guide will meet you at your hotel this morning, and transfer you the short distance to Ardmhor for your ferry to Eriskay. Here, the local bus service meets the ferry, travelling on the superb waterside roads and causeways to Benbecula Airport, where you change services for the final leg north through the Outer Hebrides to Lochmaddy.
Your Accommodation on North Uist
You will stay in a personally run guesthouse in a peaceful spot at the edge of the village of Lochmaddy, within easy walking distance of the village centre with options for evening dining. Lochmaddy itself boasts several unusual attractions including a camera obscura and the impressive Taigh Chearsabhagh arts centre and museum.
Day Four – Exploring the Uists
We will arrange a local driver to bring you to some of the highlights of these islands, from long sandy beaches to traditional black houses.Birdwatchers will not want to miss the RSPB Balranald nature reserve on the west coast – home to thousands of coastal waders and divers. Meanwhile, Lochmaddy itself boasts several unusual attractions, including a camera obscura and the impressive Taigh Chearsabhagh arts centre and museum.
Day Five – Crossing the Sound to Harris
After a short bus-ride from your accommodation to the ferry slip at Berneray, take the one-hour ferry crossing from Berneray to Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris and feel immediately the contrast in landscape and atmosphere. You’ll be met by the friendly proprietor and transferred to your accommodation in the tiny hamlet of Finsbay.
Your Accommodation on Harris
About as welcoming as they come, your accommodation on Harris is a converted school where the proprietor’s mother attended classes in the mid-20th century, so it’s come full-circle to providing quirky and fun accommodation today. With only three twin rooms it’s never crowded, while dinner here is quite an event, as catch-of-the-day fish and shellfish, and exquisite local produce are brought to the table in the large sun-house, expertly prepared by your host.
Day Six – A Day at Leisure to Relax or Explore
Take the time to really switch off in this most remote and peaceful corner of the UK. The situation here could not be better for lovers of the outdoors, with wild moorland, rich machair and glorious, sandy beaches within walking-distance. It’s quite likely you’ll experience the blissful feeling of having them all to yourself.
Day Seven – A Private Guided Tour of Harris and onward to Lewis
Leave Finsbay behind as you’re collected at your accommodation by our local driver-guide and taken on a terrific day out in Harris and Lewis. You’ll drive the ‘Golden Road’ (so-called due to the expense its creation incurred!) heading for the legendary and quite breath-taking beaches at Luskentyre, Seilebost and Huishnish. Travelling north, pop in to the Harris Tweed shop and Harris Distillery at Tarbert, and maybe cross the bridge to tiny Scalpay with its unique twin harbours.
Crossing in to Lewis (actually part of the same landmass as Harris) you’ll notice the distinctly different scenery on your way to experiencing some of the most dramatic and atmospheric historical sites in Europe, including the unmissable standing stones at Callanish, Carloway Broch, and the Blackhouse village at Gearrannan.
Later, you’ll be dropped at your accommodation in Stornoway for a final night on these islands.
Your Accommodation on Lewis
With just two beautifully presented rooms, your guest house on the outskirts of Stornoway has won many plaudits for the quality of service, accommodation and breakfast on offer. Filled with useful and welcome touches like in-room refrigerators and sofas, as well as a bright breakfast room with French doors out to the secluded garden, this is a fine spot for the last evening of your holiday. Stornoway’s many good dining options are within easy walking distance.
Day Eight – Return by Plane to Glasgow and Onward Journey Home
You’ll be met at your guest house and transferred to the airport for your flight to Glasgow, swapping the tranquillity of the Outer Hebrides for the city bustle. Just let us know if we can help with your onward travel plans.
This holiday is part of our ever-growing collection of public transport based holidays, enabling you to reach destinations around Scotland – in this case, the Outer Hebrides – without the need to drive. We feel strongly that true sustainability also means promoting and helping to maintain a way of life in areas where the economic benefit of tourism can make a genuine difference to the local community, which is why we have used locally-owned small accommodation and local guides on this holiday.
This multi-centre holiday covers the islands of Barra, the Uists, Harris and Lewis. It includes travel from Glasgow to Barra by train and ferry and back from Lewis to Glasgow by plane.
£1285 per person in April & October, £1335 per person from May to September.
Price is based on two people sharing and includes seven nights B&B accommodation in double/twin en-suite rooms in small, family-run hotels and guest houses. This price also includes rail travel from Glasgow to Oban, ferry crossings and transfers as described, private tours on Barra, the Uists and on Harris/Lewis, and the flight from Stornoway back to Glasgow. If you prefer we can arrange for you to travel by ferry and coach to Inverness at the end of the trip.
The bus journey from Eriskay to North Uist is non-bookable and passengers are required to pay upon boarding.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
As this trip is car-free and self-guided, we recommend packing lightly, with one manageable main piece of luggage per person.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
We loved travelling around on local buses with their informative drivers and friendly locals.John & Shan, London
This holiday can be arranged from April until the middle of October.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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