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Land on the sand on Barra and meander from the bottom to the top of the Western Isles, including the Isle of Skye.
*As featured in The Sunday Times Travel September 2016 edition – “Island Fling” by Andrew Eames.*
This bespoke fly-drive holiday through the Western Isles allows for a relaxed voyage to discover 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 at the end of your Scottish island adventure.
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.
We also offer this holiday with a slightly different route as a self-drive holiday, travelling by car and ferry.
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!
Your accommodation on Barra
After collecting your hire car at one of our favourite airports, it’s just a short drive to your accommodation which you’ll find on the way to the main settlement of Castlebay. A warm island welcome awaits, helping you settle into a more relaxed pace of life at the start of your island-hopping adventure through Scotland’s captivating Western Isles.
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.
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 characterful former hunting lodge oozes historic charm within its original walls and has also been tastefully extended to open up panoramic views over the nearby loch and surrounding countryside. The restaurant is a great draw and the food is deliciously fresh and very local. In fact, you might even catch a glance of the fisherman delivering the day’s catch from the loch.
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.
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 is a myriad of walking opportunities for all abilities.
Today you cross by ferry to Harris, with your hotel in a peaceful location in the south of the island.
Your guest house 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.
What to see and do on Harris
With its magnificent scenery and spectacular beaches, Harris offers unrivalled opportunities for hillwalkers, anglers, divers, birdwatchers and wildlife lovers. 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.
No ferry today as Lewis is part of the same landmass 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. Combined with its incomparable scenery, the Isle of Lewis offers plenty of activities for those interested in history, wildlife, walking and much more.
Return your hire car in Stornoway and catch your return flight to Glasgow, with other options to Edinburgh, for onward connections.
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.
£1975 per person for May to September, £1925 per person for March, April & October.
Price is based on two adults sharing a double or twin room for nine nights on a bed & breakfast basis. It also includes 10 days car hire (small manual with one driver) and ferry travel through the islands for car and passengers, as well as 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 UK licensed driver on this holiday is 79, and 75 for a driver from overseas.
A day trip to St. Kilda* can be added on for an additional cost of £260 per person. As travel to St. Kilda is weather dependent, the exact day of departure may be subject to late change. If the trip does not run a refund of the excursion fare will be made. Please enquire for more details. *Please note: the day trip to St Kilda can only be arranged from 24th April to 30th September in 2023.
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.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
You are requesting availability for
This holiday can be arranged from March to October.
*Please note: this holiday is not possible from 5th October in 2022, due to the closure of Uig ferry port.
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 through 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.
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.
Please note: All fields marked * are required
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.
“Somewhere along the Scottish coast An emerald island lies So I will steer my sailing boat Unto the Isle of Skye” [Andrew Peterson] I take a glanc...
We were lucky with wonderful weather. We loved the scenery, the isolation, the absolute silence in the countryside and especially the lovely people.John & Susan, Cornwall
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