If you’re anything like me, as restrictions are easing, thoughts of strolling along a pristine white sand beach with waves crashing at your feet are becoming more frequent by the day. What if I was to tell you that this isn’t just possible, but closer than you could imagine?
If you’ve already been to the Outer Hebrides, the description of the beach will be enough to transport you back to an unforgettable experience. Once enjoyed, the enchanting delights of this most magical part of Scotland will tempt you back time and again, calling to you across the years and the miles until you’re drawn back to enjoy it all again.
The Outer Hebrides are a diverse collection of interconnected Islands just off the West Coast of the mainland; each with a distinct personality and a story of their own. Whether you’re looking for family fun or breath-taking adventure, from windsurfing and cliff climbing to quiet beach strolls and fishing, every visitor here finds their own place on these beautiful islands.
On the very edge of the Atlantic, the islands are home to an abundance of wildlife from golden eagles to orcas, as well as unspoilt and protected habitats. It is a canvas painted with the earth’s richest colour palette and the sheer variety of scenery leaves visitors gasping in amazement.
The Isle of Lewis & Harris is renowned for its bleak mountains, some of the loveliest beaches in the world, rugged coastlines and lunar landscapes with glistening rocks carved out by glaciers in the Ice Ages. The breath-taking colours include the vibrant blues of the skies and sea, golden gorse, blinding white beaches, the warm browns and greens of the moors alongside purple heather and the myriad wildflowers dancing against the verdant machair. All of these shades are woven into the island’s renowned Harris Tweed, along with the glowing reds of the poppies, blush pink of clover and soft yellow of the buttercups.
The Uists are Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benebecula, South Uist and Eriskay, all now linked by causeways and each with their own distinct character. What they have in common is an extraordinary expanse of sky, giving you a very real awareness that the earth is indeed round and here, on those miles of empty moorland, we are poised on the edge of it. Uist is the perfect mid-point of the Outer Hebrides, ideal for a day trip to Lewis & Harris, a visit to the archipelago of St Kilda, an extreme Atlantic outpost, or to the stunning nature reserve on the Monach Isles, which has been uninhabited by people since 1948.
Finally, to Barra, the only place in the world where scheduled flights land on a beach, and Vatersay, the start of the Hebridean Way, the long- distance walking and cycling routes which go through 10 islands of the Outer Hebrides and finish in the Isle of Lewis. Except once you’ve experienced the Outer Hebrides, you are never finished. They hold your heart forever.