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Outer Hebrides

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Outer Hebrides

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The Outer Hebrides (also know as the Western Isles) are the westernmost chain of islands in the Hebrides, west of the Scottish Highlands.


These are all separate islands, except Lewis and Harris which together form one island.

Towns and villages

Guide Book

The Western Isles Guide Book by Charles Tait - a complete source of information about where to go and what to do in the Western Isles


The Outer Hebrides[1] are a fascinating destination. The scenery is beautiful. The landscape is rocky and mountainous, but also lush and verdant - due in no small part to the large amounts of rain which tend to fall. It is easy to find a quiet peaceful spot.

The Gaelic language and culture is appealing. At a practical level this means that place names on road signs are in Gaelic, but the bus timetables use the English names!

Religion still plays an important part in many people’s lives. In Lewis and Harris this is often in the form of Protestant Free Presbyterian Churches. As a result the Sabbath (Sunday) is respected, so you are unlikely to find shops etc open on a Sunday. Activities happening on a Sunday often are opposed locally. In contrast Barra and South Uist are mainly Catholic, and Sunday opening is much more likely.


Get in

By boat

Caledonian MacBrayne [2] is the national ferry service. Citylink coaches generally connect with the ferries on the mainland. Details for Summer 2006:

  • Oban to Castlebay on Barra daily, taking 5+ hours.

By air

In the Outer Hebrides, there are airports in Stornoway in Lewis, Benbecula and Barra. These airports provide direct flights to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. The airport in Barra is one of the most spectacular in the world, with planes landing on a three-mile beach at low tide, but this does mean that the flight times vary with the tide.

Get around

By boat

  • Caledonian MacBrayne, [3]. The national ferry service. Details below are for Summer 2006:

Berneray to Leverburgh on Harris Daily 3-4 per day, taking 1 hour.

Eriskay to Barra Daily, up to 5 per day, taking 40 minutes.

By Bus

There are good bus services during the day Mon - Sat, but little in the evening and no buses on a Sunday.


Many of the islands are linked by road causeways and bridges, which have progressively been built over the last 50 years or so. Most recently causeways have been built to Eriskay from South Uist, and to Berneray from North Uist.

By bicycle

The Outer Hebrides are popular for cycle tourists, generally taking around a week to cycle from Barra to Stornoway.

Car Hire

  • MacLennan's Garage, Balivanich, Benbecula, tel: +44 (0)1870 602191
  • Ask Car Hire, Creagorry, Benbecula, tel: +44 (0)1870 602818.
  • Mackinnon Self Drive [4], 18 Inaclete Road, Stornoway, Lewis, HS1 2RB 01851 702984. From £22.50 per day.
  • Arnol Motors [5], Arnol, Lewis HS2 9DB 01851 710548. From £23 per day.
  • Lewis Car Rentals [6], 52 Bayhead Street, Stornoway, Lewis, HS1 2TU. From £22 per day.


  • Alda Taxis, Lochmaddy, North Uist. tel: +44 (0)1876 500 215.



There are many fine sandy beaches, mainly on the Western shores of the islands.


Historic Scotland Properties[7]:

  • Kisimul Castle on Barra.
  • Callinish Standing Stones on Lewis.
  • Carloway Brooch on Lewis.
  • Black House Museum at Arnol on Lewis.




  • Play Golf at one of the 5 island Golf Courses [10].



Stay safe

Get out

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