Highlights of the Outer Hebrides - 5 day tour
Highlights of the Outer Hebrides
5 day/4 night
The idyllic Western Isles lie off the West Coast of Scotland and feature dazzlingly white beaches, loch-dotted landscapes, pre-historic sites and a fantastic array of wildlife. This comprehensive tour will introduce you to no less than eight different Hebridean islands including Eriskay, Vatersay, Barra, North and South Uists, Benbecula, Harris and Lewis. If you are seeking an island adventure, then this is just the tour for you.
Price range: £695 - £965
Eriskay – walk on the sands where Bonnie Prince Charlie stepped ashore in Scotland to launch the 1745 Jacobite Uprising
Barra - see the famous Cockleshell Beach, Barra Airport’s tidal runway and learn the beguiling story of Whisky Galore
North Uist - discover a natural landscape of beaches, peat bogs and lochans that provide a haven for all kinds of wildlife
Harris - explore stunning white sandy beaches that rival any found in Thailand or the Caribbean
Callanish Standing Stones - step back 5,000 years to visit these enigmatic standing stones thought older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids
Movie locations – Brave, 2001, A Space Odessey and Whisky Galore
Hotel accommodation included
Full Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Edinburgh/Glasgow - Mallaig - Benbecula
From Edinburgh and Glasgow, we make our way into the beauty of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Following a drive along the “bonnie, bonnie banks” and with a song in our heart, we continue through the countryside to reach the remote wilderness of Rannoch Moor.
The haunting atmosphere persists to this day in magnificent Glen Coe, where the Campbells massacred the MacDonalds in 1692. From there we make for Fort William for close-up views of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain.
From Fort William we make our way along the famed “Road to the Isles”, undoubtedly one of Scotland’s most scenic routes. Our journey will take us to Glenfinnan, where we will see the famous viaduct that stars in the Harry Potter movies. Next, we travel along the banks of Loch Eilt and see the beautiful sands of Morar.
At the historic fishing port of Mallaig, we join the ferry for the crossing to Lochboisdale on South Uist. Dinner will be served on-board, and when we arrive, it’s a short drive to our hotel on the neighbouring island of Benbecula.
Overnight: Dark Island Hotel, Benbecula (or similar) (2 nights)
Day 2 - Eriskay and Vatersay Excursion
After a leisurely breakfast, we join the rest of our party for a drive through South Uist and across the causeway to reach Eriskay. This little island is just three miles long and two miles wide and has a beautiful sandy beach known as Prince Charlie’s Bay. It was here that Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in July 1745 at the start of the ill-fated Jacobite Uprising.
From Eriskay we join a ferry for the short crossing to Barra. On arrival, we drive to Castlebay, the main village on the island, where we visit Kisimul Castle.
Kisimul is the only remaining medieval castle to be found in the Outer Hebrides and is the seat of the Clan MacNeil. It sits on a little islet in the middle of the bay so, just like the chieftains of old, we’ll take a boat to reach this ancient fortress where we’ll see the grand hall, kitchen, dungeon and tower.
Later, we will travel to see Cockleshell Beach, which doubles as the runway for Barra Airport. Barra is served by a twice-daily service from Glasgow, to a timetable that is governed by the tides.
Overlooking the beach is the home of the famous author Sir Compton Mackenzie, who wrote ‘Whisky Galore’. The book is based on the true story of a shipwreck in 1941. The cargo included 260,000 bottles of whisky, much of which was “rescued” before the official salvage team arrived.
The story was made into a classic film in 1949. Much of the filming took place on Vatersay, which is next on our island-hopping itinerary. This little island is famed for the many species of wildflower that can be found here.
Later we return to Eriskay by ferry and make our way back to our hotel in time for dinner.
Day 3 - Benbecula - Isle of Harris - Stornoway
After breakfast, it’s time to move on to explore Harris and Lewis. First, we make our way through the lochans of Benbecula and into North Uist. At Berneray we catch the ferry for Leverburgh of the Isle of Harris.
Our first stop is to the little village of Rodel, where we will visit St Clements Church. This 16th Century church was built on an earlier building by Alasdair Crotach, 8th Chief of the MacLeods of Harris. He died in 1547 and is buried here in an ornate tomb which is decorated with fine carvings.
Harris is famed for its beautiful beaches, and we’ll pass Horgabost, Borve and Scarasta, which have some of the finest sands to be found anywhere. Enjoy the views over the sound to the island of Taransay, which featured in the popular “Castaway” TV series.
We will make a stop in Tarbert, the main community on the island before travelling through the Harris mountains to reach the moors of Lewis and our home for the next two nights in Stornoway.
Overnight: Caberfeidh Hotel, Stornoway (or similar) (2 nights)
Day 4 - Exploring the Isle of Lewis
Today ancient history is on the itinerary as we explore the treasures of Isle of Lewis. First, we make for the west coast of the island to see the mysterious Standing Stones of Callanish. Thought to be 5,000 years old this collection of monoliths is believed to be older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids. The visitor centre contains interactive displays which investigate how the stones were built and what their purpose might have been.
Next, we move on to the Black Houses at Gearannan, to discover how islanders lived, not so very long ago, in these sturdy houses made of drystone walls and thatched roofs.
Our last visit of the day is to the Norse Mill at Shawbost. This reconstruction of an Iron Age grain mill is built on the site of the original mill used by Norsemen. There are two buildings The Kiln, where grains was dried by a peat fire and The Corn Mill, which is powered by water from Loch Roinavat. The mill was in use up until the 1930s and provides a fascinating view of life on these islands.
Day 5 - Stornoway - Inverness - Edinburgh/Glasgow
We catch the early morning ferry from Stornoway. Breakfast will be served on-board, and there will be time to head out on deck to enjoy the view as we pass the Summer isles and make our approach to Ullapool by sailing up Loch Broom.
Back on our coach, we make our way through the North West Highlands to reach the Black Isle then across the Moray Firth into Inverness. The tour will continue through the Cairngorms National Park then a descend through the Pass of Drumochter to reach Highland Perthshire, where there will be a stop.
The last part of our journey will be through the Kingdom of Fife, then across the Firth of Forth and into Edinburgh. The coach will continue to Glasgow, for those wishing to end the tour there.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect on this Escorted Tour?
If you enjoy the art of first-class travel whilst enjoying amazing value then an Escorted Tour is just for you. All these tours are carefully researched and combine quality hotels, luxury travel, informative visits and leisure time. You’ll find our Escorted Tours to be memorable - for all the right reasons! You will travel aboard a state of the art motorcoach with air-conditioning, reclining seats, oversized windows and emergency washroom. Many coaches are equipped with WiFi too. An experienced tour manager will lead the tour and your coach will be expertly driven by a professional driver. In certain locations you’ll be joined by a local guide who will provide local insight and show you the highlights. These tours are inclusive of superior tourist class accommodation, transportation, selected admission fees and many meals. You’ll have the chance to personalise your touring experience by participating in some carefully planned optional excursions. These are at additional expense and details will be provided with your tour documentation.
What type of room should I choose?
Selecting the right sleeping arrangements can be a little bit confusing so here is a description of what you can expect from the hotel accommodation offered as part of your tour: Single room - this is a room for one person sleeping in a single bed. Twin room - this is a room for two people sleeping in two separate beds. Double room - this is a room for two people sharing one large bed. Family room - this is a room for three people sleeping in one large bed (2 people) and one single bed (1 person). Please note that a family room is normally a standard double or twin room with either a sofa bed or a rollaway bed. All room types other than twin rooms are subject to availability.
Will I hear Gaelic being spoken?
The Outer Hebrides is the heartland of Gaelic culture and the majority of islanders will speak the Gaelic language, as well as English. Of course there is no need to learn Gaelic to enjoy your time in the Outer Hebrides but if you would like to learn a few words why not try:Hello. Halò. Goodbye. Mar sin leibh. My name is... Is mise...How are you? Ciamar a tha sibh? I’m fine thank you. Tha gu math tapadh leibh. Excuse me... Gabh mo leisgeul... Cheers! Slàinte!
Can you give me advice on tipping?
It is customary to acknowledge excellent service by offering a tip. We are often asked how much you should tip. This is such a difficult question to answer however we offer these suggestions as being a fair amount. If your tour was operated by a driver/guide £7.00 per person per day. If your tour was operated by a separate driver & guide £5.00 per person per day to each staff member. Please bear in mind that these amounts are purely discretionary. It is customary to present tips on an individual basis at the end of the tour.
How many people will be on the tour?
The number of people travelling on an Escorted Tour will not normally be more than 50 passengers. On a Premium Escorted Tour you will travel with around 38 fellow passengers.
- 4 nights hotel accommodation
- Location: Benbecula (2) and Stornoway, Isle of Lewis (2)
- Cooked/Continental breakfast (4)
- Table d’ hote dinners (4)
Visits, Admissions and Experiences
- Admission to Kisimul Castle, St Clement’s Church, Callanish Standing Stones, Gearrannan Black Houses and Norse Mill
- Touring by luxury air-conditioned coach with reclining seats
- All ferry fares and reservations
- All baggage handling and hotel tips are included
- Services throughout the tour of a professional Tour Director
- Service charges and taxes
North Hanover Street Bus Stance, Glasgow, G1 2BP
Check-in: 10:30 hrs
Tour Departs: 10:45 hrs
Tour Returns: 18:30 hrs
Outside Marriott Hotel, on Glasgow Road, Edinburgh, EH12 8NF
Check-in: 08:45 hrs
Tour Departs: 09:00 hrs
Tour Returns: 17:15 hrs
Please contact us for information on child prices.
The price of this tour includes hotel accommodation with en-suite bathroom.
Please see the FAQ section for more information on this tour.