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Travel from bonnie Barra, through the haunting landscape of the Uists, then explore the famous beaches and sites of Harris and Lewis.
Bring yourself closer than ever to the spirit of the enchanted Outer Hebrides by traversing their 130-mile length via ferry, bus and private transfer, with friendly local guides helping bring the islands, their wildlife, landscapes and coastlines to life along the way. Leave the car at home and discover a gentler way to go Scottish island hopping!
If you want to experience a guided tour of the Outer Hebrides, check out our Outer Hebrides Small Guided Group Tour.
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 Sea of the Hebrides 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.
Simple, comfortable rooms give way to the bar frequented by both locals and visitors. The restaurant offers a menu of traditional fayre. Relax and grow accustomed to the island way of life – nothing happens in a big hurry here.
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.
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, you will meet another local driver to continue your Hebridean journey, travelling on the superb waterside roads and causeways over to South Uist, then Benbecula then the final leg north through the Outer Hebrides to Lochmaddy.
You will stay in a local hotel, 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 & Museum.
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. Again, this is a private tour so can be tailored to your interests.
A half hour local bus journey will bring you from your accommodation to the ferry slip at Berneray. Here, take the one hour ferry crossing from Berneray to Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris and feel immediately the contrast in landscape and atmosphere. Hop aboard another bus for the journey to the island capital, Tarbert.
Your centrally located hotel in Tarbert means you have the amenities on your doorstep to peruse as you wish tomorrow.
Whether you wish to visit the Harris Distillery, learn about Harris Tweed or simply while away your time with a refreshment in the local beer garden, the choice is yours. Should you wish to venture a little further afield, let us know and we can pre-book a taxi for you.
Leave Tarbert behind as you’re collected at your accommodation by our local driver-guide and taken on a terrific day out in Harris and Lewis. Perhaps you’ll take the ‘Golden Road’ (so-called due to the expense its creation incurred!) then head for the legendary and quite breath-taking beaches at Luskentyre and Seilebost. You’ll have opportunity to stretch your legs while learning about the reality of island life in the Outer Hebrides.
Crossing into 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.
Another local hotel awaits, offering good old-fashioned hospitality and a chance to mingle with locals and visitors alike.
You have a final morning to meander along the harbour front and through the back streets of Stornoway, perhaps picking up some final souvenirs of your trip. You’ll be met at your hotel 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’ve incorporated bus trips where possible, though the service is infrequent, so often you will be transferred by local taxi. 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 hotel accommodation and local guides wherever possible 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.
£1825 per person in April & October, £1925 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 not to fly at all, we can arrange for you to travel by ferry and coach to Inverness at the end of the trip then onwards by train.
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.
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This holiday can be arranged from April until the middle of October.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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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
Visiting the Outer Hebrides was the perfect return to travel we were looking for!Graham & Blythe , California, USA
We thought the trip to the Outer Hebrides was wonderful. The organisation by McKinlay Kidd took away any stresses involved in travelling.Janet & Keith, Reading, UK