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Day One – Meet and Greet in Glasgow
Meet your tour leader and fellow travellers for a welcome dinner. With an early morning flight, this is a great location to start the trip. Discuss the week ahead and enjoy a meal in the company of kindred spirits.
Your accommodation at Glasgow Airport
A comfortable airport hotel in an excellent location. The main terminal is only a short walk away so there’s no need to worry about morning transfers. A pleasant bar and restaurant on-site makes for a relaxed evening. For those wishing to explore, Glasgow city is only a twenty-minute bus or taxi ride away.
Day Two – The Prince’s Island Trail
It’s time for take-off. The city sprawl thins and fades, jagged coasts loom below and Scotland’s mainland massif folds into the distance. After a short flight, the group will touch down on Benbecula. Linked by causeways that are sixty years in the making, this island is full of surprises – especially for the tourist board that mistook its golden beaches for a luxury Thai resort.
First stop is Loch a ‘Chinn Uacraich for fresh air and wildlife spotting. With a bit of luck you might see an otter or two. These lithe creatures are famously shy, so keep your eyes peeled for a ring of bright water. This area is notorious for a strange nineteenth-century tale; kelp pickers reported seeing a miniature woman “the size of a well-fed four-year-old” among the seaweed. Soon after her body was washed ashore – “half-woman half-fish”. Buried in an unmarked grave, the mystery was never solved.
Bonnie Prince Charlie’s final Scottish journey disembarked from Benbecula as recounted in The Skye Boat Song. End the day following the Prince’s trail to South Uist and hear fascinating stories of an outlaw on the run. Stop at a museum for the ages and visit the stone lady who drove out an army.
Your accommodation in South Uist
Set upon the edge of South Uist, this simple inn offers a warm welcome. The stunning scenery and vast skies make this feel like the ends of the earth. The cosy bar and restaurant are popular with travellers and locals alike – spend the evening by the fire or take a midnight stroll by the sea. This will be the groups base for the next two nights – the perfect location from which to explore Barra and North Uist.
Day Three – To Barra & Back
After a short transfer to Eriskay island (watch out for the indigenous ponies) take the ferry to Barra. The single-track road turns and twists by the white beach and turquoise waters, over heather and rock hill – it will soon become apparent why locals call it ‘Barra-dise’. Visit Castlebay, named after the insular fortress of Kisimul Castle. A fifteenth-century gift from the Lord of the Isles to clan McNeil, it became the base of Roderick the Turbulent for his raids on Queen Elizabeth’s Navy. Brought before King James VI (and soon to be I of England) to answer for his crimes, Roderick reminded the King that Elizabeth had chopped off Bloody Mary’s head (James’ mother). Roderick was promptly released without charge.
Stop for lunch at an award-winning restaurant then head over to Traigh Mhòr beach and listen closely. If the timing is right, there’s a sight to be seen on this vast wash of sand. The DHC-6 Twin Otter engines hum and dip as the aircraft descends. Watching the plane land on the beach is a unique experience. Pass over the causeway to Vatersay, an area of outstanding natural beauty and endless machair, then catch the evening ferry back to South Uist.
Day Four – Grand Island Temples
Travel north and stop at the remains of Trinity Temple, then visit a unique camera obscura. Hear the story of the Fool’s Gold and try to find a member of the MacCodrums family (direct decedents of the first selkie). Stop for lunch at a once-abandoned travellers inn – converted into a community space and gallery, it now serves a lovely flat white. Pass onto Berneray (the ninth island of the tour so far) and embark for Harris. Flat top rocks and dark islands fill the water, the barren beauty of Harris looms ahead. The group has now arrived on the third largest island in the British Isles (after Great Britain and Ireland). The tour passes along the unique landscapes and roads to St. Clement’s Church. Described as the grandest medieval building in the Western Isles, it contains spectacular sculptures and carvings.
Back on the road, look out for strange creatures both wild and mythical such as the Cù-Sìth hound that leaves huge pawprints in the sand or the cro sìth cow born underwater. Experience a landscape literally otherworldly – the barren rockscapes of Harris doubled as Jupiter for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. From here, it’s a short and scenic journey to the group’s accommodation for the next three nights.
Your accommodation in Harris
Located in the village of Tarbert, this family-run hotel is an ideal base. Comfortable modern rooms and a restaurant serving the freshest local ingredients make this a welcome stay. Little luxurious touches make this a home from home whilst exploring Lewis & Harris.
Day Five – Harris the Eye can See
Start the day with an optional excursion to Luskentyre beach – this sprawling dream of sand and sea envelopes the rocky outcrops, little islands of stone and grass splinter among the water. Spend the morning walking by the peaceful ocean.
Next, it’s on to a special experience. Dotted all over Scotland are little woolly beasts called sheep. Many years ago it was noted sheep don’t look half as miserable as humans when it rains. Thus, it was deduced that their jackets were better than ours. For centuries since, local weavers have been turning Scottish wool into Harris Tweed. Hard-wearing and fashionable, it is the only textile with its own act of parliament. Every yard is inspected, every label is hand stamped, every weaver must pass a rigorous test. Visit a local weavers shed and see the mighty loom in action. Over the whirring of the shuttle and the clacking of the beater, hear tales of this fabled material and see it grow before you.
Only a few minutes away is the next stop – learn about the genealogical history of the islands and discover any family ties. Seallam! is the genealogical and historical archives created by a man on a mission to protect the local folk history. Finish the day with glass in hand at Harris Distillery. Learn about the philosophy behind this entrepreneurial business. Opened in 2015, the gin’s trademark bottle is already iconic – the kelp infused liquid embracing the terroir of Harris.
Day Six – The Pillars of Lewis
In the company of a local guide, travel to the island of Lewis (which is attached the island of Harris, and both are in fact one island – ask your guide to help untangle this).
Start at the Blackhouse Arnol – thick walls and peat fired floors kept inhabitants, human and beast, warm through Atlantic storms. Wander through a forgotten way of life barely two generations past, a life of subsistence and toil. Travel back a couple millennia to the Carloway Broch and learn about this impressive structure; from its use and construction to the contentious debate over its roof.
A visit to Lewis wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Callanish standing stones. Older than the pyramids and pre-dating Stonehenge, these huge slabs of stone have stood over the landscape for 5,000 years. Almost lost among the peat until rediscovered by a curious farmer, delve into the mists of pre-history and glimpse the lives of our ancient ancestors.
Day Seven – Come Away to Stornoway
Transfer to Stornoway and explore the museum within Lews Castle. Hear the fascinating story of the Lewis Chessmen and their discovery in a sand dune. These most reluctant looking of chess pieces are an important part of cultural trading history.
Take some time to explore the town and grab an early lunch before taking the return flight to Glasgow. Say fond farewells to the group before continuing with your onward travel plans – maybe catch a ride to Edinburgh and spend a couple days in the capital, or even take the train along the West Highland Line and begin an adventure to the heart of Scotland. Do let us know if we can help with plans to extend your travels.
The tour departs from Glasgow, followed by two nights on South Uist and three nights on Harris, flying back to Glasgow from Stornoway.
The Outer Hebrides Guided Small Group Tour costs £2150 per person sharing a twin or double room. The supplement for a single traveller is £450, based on single occupancy of double/twin rooms.
The price per person includes:
Hold baggage of 20kg per person is included plus one small cabin bag of up to 6kg.
From time to time we may need to make minor changes to the itinerary, such as the specific places visited, but will always replace with alternatives of equivalent or higher standard.
All accommodation is carefully-selected and researched by us, predominantly featuring small, family-owned hotels – contact us for more detailed information. We will do our best to accommodate room preferences subject to availability at individual properties.
This tour will operate with a maximum of 15 passengers on each departure date.
Simply complete the form below to reserve your place(s). We guarantee to hold your place(s) for 48 hours to provide time for you to pay the deposit of 25% per person.
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.
|Departure Date||Starts From||Nights||£ per person (2 sharing)||£ per person (single)|
|Monday 15 Aug 2022||Glasgow||6||£ 2150||£ 2600|
|Sunday 9 Jul 2023||Glasgow||6||£ 2150||£ 2600|
|Sunday 3 Sep 2023||Glasgow||6||£ 2150||£ 2600|
To reserve your place(s) on this tour, please call us or complete the form below, making sure to select your departure date from the dropdown menu and advise of any special requirements. We will hold your place(s) for 48 hours and contact you with details of how to confirm your booking by payment of the per person deposit.
Please note: All form fields are required unless otherwise stated optional.