The Outer Hebrides lay some 30 miles to the west of the Scottish mainland and must be one of the most adventurous holiday experiences available in the UK. This chain of islands is totally unspoilt by the modern world and one of the last true refuges for nature. Here you’ll find wonderful white sandy beaches, rugged mountainous landscapes, open moorland and crashing seas.
The Outer Hebrides archipelago actually consists of 200 interconnected islands with some 15 of them inhabited; in fact human settlements on these islands can be traced back 6,000 years. Collectively there are 55 sites of special scientific interest and three nature reserves in the Outer Hebrides; internationally recognised for their environmental and cultural importance.
The island terrain can vary throughout the archipelago, ranging from the mountains on Harris to lower lying Lewis. Stornoway, the largest settlement in the Outer Hebrides, is situated in Lewis and there are also fishing villages on the north west coast. The island has some wonderful empty beaches and a fascinating ancient history; one of the most notable examples being the Standing Stones of Callanais, which is older than Stonehenge, the stones have stood here for approximately 5000 years.
To the south the Uists are notable for their brilliant white beaches; there are three nature reserves here and the Lochmaddy special area of conservation, so needless to say these islands are great for nature watching. The Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre for visitors to North Uist is an award-winning cultural attraction offering a variety of events, including films, photography and sculptural exhibits and some fantastic displays of local heritage.
The seas here are teeming with marine life and boats can be chartered locally or you can join one of the organised wildlife cruises. Of particular interest is the incredible Nature Reserve, National Scenic Area and World Heritage site of St Kilda. This island rock rises out of the sea and was once home to human settlers but now houses the largest colony of seabirds in northern Europe.
Getting to these islands is not as difficult as you may think; there are regular ferry services and flights from the mainland and an excellent inter-island ferry service if you fancy a little island hopping.
If you’re ready for one of Britain’s great holiday experiences take a look at our selection of holiday cottages in the Outer Hebrides.