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Fly-drive through the Western Isles

Land on the sand on Barra, then pick up your hire car and meander from bottom to top of the Western Isles, visiting the Uists, Skye, Harris and Lewis.

*As featured in The Sunday Times Travel September 2016 edition – “Island Fling” by Andrew Eames.*

This bespoke fly-drive holiday allows for a relaxed voyage through the remote and enchanting archipelago of the Outer Hebrides. Fly to Barra from Glasgow, landing on its famed seashore runway, and journey north through the Uists, over the sea to Skye, concluding with a stay on Harris and Lewis before flying back to Glasgow or Edinburgh.

With flight times of just over an hour each way and with one-way car hire included, these faraway isles have never been more accessible.


At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Mar - Oct. Avoid the crowds with a spring or autumn break.

Why not...

pre-book a day with a local wildlife guide in search of otters?

Prices From

£1505

No of Nights

10 nights including return flights from Glasgow and car hire

Speak to Us

Office Hours 9am-5.30pm UK Time (Mon-Fri)

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Details

Day One – Isle of Barra

Your first Hebridean destination is the tiny island of Barra, where you will enjoy the unique experience of landing on the Cockle Strand, after a short flight from Glasgow. The flight schedule varies with the tides! After collecting your hire car at one of our favourite airports, it’s just a short drive to your small, welcoming hotel.

Your inn on Barra

Originally built as a church and mission house in the mid-nineteenth century, your whitewashed hotel enjoys a fine location overlooking the bay, with easy access to both the ferry port and Barra’s unique beachfront airstrip at Cockle Strand. In its previous incarnation as a guest house, it played host to several cast members of the classic 1948 film Whisky Galore, before upgrading to hotel status in 1974, whereupon Northbay could boast its first licensed premises since the closure of the old inn decades earlier.
The hotel has five comfortable en-suite bedrooms furnished in a contemporary style, some with a DVD player. The cheerful public bar  ‘whose walls are over 3 foot thick’ is a pleasant place to sit and observe the fishing activity across the bay at Ardveenish pier, or to while away an evening listening to the friendly locals share their colourful tales of island life. Meals are served in the bar, or you can opt for the quieter dining room, whose menu features tempting island produce, with an emphasis on locally landed fresh fish and shellfish.

What to see and do on Barra

Take a walk along the sparkling white sands of Cockle Strand and spot a plane landing at low tide, an unforgettable sight. Drive or cycle up to Eoligarry and feast your eyes on the springtime profusion of primroses as you gaze across the sound to Fuday, Eriskay and South Uist in the distance. Or head south to Castlebay, the island capital, and visit Kisimul Castle; the restored ancestral home of the clan MacNeil. Stop off at the highly informative Heritage Centre, where you can enjoy coffee and refreshments, before perhaps taking a picnic across the causeway to Vatersay, with its glorious twin beaches.

Day Three – North Uist

Leave the little island of Barra via the ferry to Eriskay.  You will then travel along the spectacular waterside roads of Uist to find your next destination in the north.

Your Hotel on North Uist

This striking modern hotel, which has proved a highly popular choice for our clients since it opened in 2006, offers stylish contemporary interiors and boutique-style ambience, unrivalled anywhere else in the Hebrides. Each of its eight designer bedrooms offers a soothing environment characterised by warm, earthy hues, subtle lighting effects and quality modern furnishings. The hotel is set in attractive landscaped gardens and boasts a decked outdoor eating area and a fully-equipped Leisure Club complete with sauna, steam room and gym. The hills and machair lands around Lochmaddy provide inspiration for the restaurant kitchen in the form of heather-fed lamb, deer, game and organic vegetables, whilst the harbour, freshwater lochs and surrounding coastal waters are an abundant source of delicious scallops, mussels, lobsters, crab, salmon and wild brown trout. The main restaurant menu imaginatively reflects these culinary riches, whilst the comfortable lounge bar focuses on more informal, hearty home-cooking.

What to see and do on the Uists

North Uist offers unlimited access to the interconnected isles of Benbecula, Grimsay, South Uist and Eriskay, all of which are ideal for walking, kayaking, cruising and wildlife-watching. 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 Museum and Arts Centre.

Day Five  – Isle of Skye

Your next ferry takes you east across the sea to Skye, with your hotel a welcoming small hotel on the edge of Portree, the island capital.

Your hotel on Skye

Built over 200 years ago, and still in the hands of the same family, this hotel is peacefully set in its own wooded grounds, yet within a very short distance of the centre of Portree. It feels like a country house or shooting lodge yet has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The public rooms have family pictures, Persian rugs, log fires, stags’ antlers and relics of the family’s colonial service. There is a TV lounge, but no TVs in the bedrooms, allowing you to truly get away from it all.

What to see and do on Skye

This is a perfect, central location for exploring this, the largest Hebridean island, with many contrasts of its own. In the north of the island, you’ll find historic Dunvegan Castle and the stunning Trotternish peninsula. In the south the Sleat peninsula, known as the Garden of Skye, take time to visit Armadale Castle and Gardens, or walk to the Point of Sleat, and gaze across to the small isles of Rum and Eigg and dream of future visits! The Cuillin mountains seem to frame every view and there are a myriad of walking opportunities for all abilities.

Day Seven – Harris

Today you cross by ferry to Harris, with your hotel in a peaceful location in the south of the island.

Your guesthouse on Harris

This modern 4 star guest house exudes a warm, traditional Hebridean welcome and offers a quiet retreat from which to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding area. Overlooking a peaceful loch, you’ll feel a million miles from anywhere, although in reality you are just a few minutes’ drive, or a 20 minute walk from Tarbert. The splendid breakfast, prepared from locally sourced produce, will set you up for the day. All of the comfortable rooms and the residents lounge enjoy impressive watery views from this aptly named house meaning ‘Music of the Sea’.

What to see and do on Harris

With its magnificent scenery and spectacular beaches, South Harris offers unrivalled opportunities for hillwalkers, anglers, divers, birdwatchers and wildlife-lovers. Take a sunset cruise in the Sound of Harris to spot seals, dolphins and basking sharks, and marvel at the sight of golden eagles, cormorants and buzzards swooping down over the uninhabited offshore islands. And don’t miss Rodel’s exquisite 15th century Church of St Clement’s, with its wonderful medieval tombs and wood carvings.

Day Nine – Lewis

No ferry today as Lewis is part of the same land mass as Harris, reached by crossing a barren rocky “moonscape”. Time to explore as you travel, with your next hotel on the edge of Stornoway, the main town of these islands.

Your guesthouse on Lewis

Your accommodation in Stornoway is a newly refurbished, family owned bungalow with just two very comfortable and cosy en-suite bedrooms. The Stornoway born-and-bred host is here to ensure your complete relaxation and satisfaction, serving authentic, locally sourced breakfasts and giving unique, local advice on anything you might need to know about the Outer Hebrides.

What to see and do on Lewis

Lewis is positively bursting with archaeological treasures, notably the eerie Standing Stones of Callanish, the Pictish Carloway Broch and several blackhouse villages. The bustling town of Stornoway boasts a vibrant social scene, where traditional music and crafts thrive in lively pubs, clubs, markets and shops. With its magnificent scenery, the Isle of Lewis also offers unrivalled opportunities for hillwalkers, anglers, divers, birdwatchers and wildlife-lovers.

Day Eleven – Return Home

Return your hire car in Stornoway and catch your return flight to Glasgow, with other options to Edinburgh, for onward connections.


Location

Map fly-drive-through-western-isles

Island-hop through the contrasting isles of the Outer Hebrides, from Barra, through the Uists to Skye, then back to Harris and Lewis with flights from Glasgow. There are also options between Edinburgh and Stornoway and some connecting services available from Southampton, Birmingham, Belfast & Gatwick.


Pricing

£1515 per person for March, April & October, £1590 per person for May to September.

Prices are based on 2 people sharing, for 10 nights on a bed & breakfast basis and include 11 days car hire (small manual) and ferry travel through the islands for car and passengers. The holiday includes flights from Glasgow to Barra and from Stornoway to Glasgow. Edinburgh and Inverness also connect with Stornoway.

(Automatic transmission cars can be arranged given advance notice for a supplement of £10 per day.)

Please note that due to conditions imposed on our supplier by insurance companies, the maximum age for a driver on this holiday is 75.

All our touring holidays include a map of Scotland with recommended routes from your specified starting point, suggestions on places to see and visit depending on your personal interests and our expertise to help you get the most from your holiday.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

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.

Reviews

Check availability for Fly-drive through the Western Isles

This holiday can be arranged from beginning of April to early October

This holiday may also be offered in reverse order on certain dates, subject to availability. In this instance you can fly to Stornoway (Lewis) from Glasgow or Edinburgh to begin your travels. Your first stay will be on Lewis, followed by Harris, over the sea to Skye, down though the Uists before completing your expedition on the tiny island of Barra. You can then take off from the beach runway and return by flight to Glasgow.

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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