Scotland is a special place for me. A few years back, I studied in Edinburgh for a year and liked it so much I decided to stay for another year ! I wanted to show Antoine around this beautiful country that felt like my home for 2 years. I got to see many places in Scotland when I was there : the Loch Ness, Inverness, Skye, Fort William, Stirling, Glasgow, I camped on Arran and visited the Orkney Islands.
But there are many places I didn’t get to see…
So for this 1-month trip around Scotland, I had to cross something out of my bucket list : see the incredible beaches on the Outer Hebrides. And they are truly incredible !
Harris & Lewis
First stop : Hushinish beach. Even if it was windy as hell (like pretty much every day we spent on the Hebrides), it was beautiful. The road leading to the beach is amazing as well, you start seeing these lunar landscapes all the guide books are talking about. We were accompanied by Kaaj, who we met on the ferry and with whom we drove to Stornoway.
We didn’t do much in Stornoway appart from going to the swimming pool & spa, which was pretty awesome, and go to a chip shop, where Antoine tried deep fried mars bar for the first time (and didn’t like it so much !).
The Isle of Lewis is famous for all the archaeological sites you can stumble upon. As history nerds we loved it ! Here are a few pictures of the Norse Kiln, an Iron Age house, the Carloway Broch, Iron Age defensive roundhouse and the famous Callanish Standing Stones.
Great Bernera and the Uig sands on the west coast of North Harris offer both great beaches and sceneries, but then again, the weather was so cold and windy we only stopped for a few minutes and rushed back into our warm shelter on wheel (aka our Peugeot 106). I still managed to get a few shots though.
West coast of South Harris
Now this is THE place that amazed us the most. I would say that if you don’t have much time on Harris & Lewis, head straight to the west coast of South Harris as this is where we saw the most stunning beaches. Especially Luskentyre beach, where the water is as blue and the sand as white as some beaches in Thaïland. I wanted to wear that bikini I packed but I’m really not that brave. And now that I think about it, more warm clothes would have been way more useful than a bikini… Oh well !
Anywhere you stop you will probably stumble upon a 5000 yo-or-so standing stone, like the one we spotted in Scarista. How cool would it be to have one in your garden ? Along with this stunning view as well of course. And the sheep.
We especially loved the walk to the 15th century ruined chapel in Thornton, which would have actually been an amazing camping spot if it wasn’t so far away from where we parked our car.
We last visited Saint Clement Church in Rodel, near Leverburgh, a peaceful place full of history and probably one of the only non-ruined old churches you could visit for free and at anytime of day or night (watch the ghosts at night though, this is Scotland after all).
We got on a ferry from Leverburgh on South Harris, to the Isle of Berneray, through the sound of Harris. We didn’t explore much of North Uist and Benbecula as the beaches look quite similar all the way. We did stop in Benbecula for another swim & sauna session + some internet time in the local library. It’s funny how a hot shower, swim and sauna can seem like actual luxury when you are wild camping.
We did spot some typical Hebridean birds, which I didn’t know the names of but, lucky me, I know a few birds experts who helped me out !
On South Uist we camped near Loch Druidibeag, in the ruins of an old house overlooking the bay… With Eriskay ponies for neighbors ! And we made a barbecue. Obviously, it was awesome 🙂
It’s on our last day on the Hebrides that the sun finally (!) decided to come out. Cold (10-11°C) but sunny. I put some sunscreen on, which is a good sign. We walked a part of the path that goes around the Loch Druidibaeg, which is great for sceneries and wildlife spotting. I almost stepped on a ground nest !
We took way too many pictures and videos of the ponies, but how can you resist to so much cuteness ?
You just can’t.
We asked a couple of pensioners touring the islands in their campervan about the ponies and they said the ponies are semi-wild. They belong to someone but they are living in the wild. I’m not sure if there is anything similar in France ? We saw so many farm animals also living in the wild, like all these sheep on the sides of road, outside enclosures, we were wondering if this is a thing here in Scotland (and all the UK ?) and nowhere else.
Maybe some of you nature & animals experts out here can answer this…
We drove to the Isle of Eriskay where we spotted other amazing beaches. The colour of the water was just breathtaking, thanks to the clear sky. At least I have some good pictures to show you how incredible the beaches are here ! Definitely worth going when it’s warmer (not sure how warmer it can get though!) to do some snorkeling.
Want to see more pictures ? Check out this album on our Flickr account !
Some useful tips for those who would like to plan a trip to the Hebrides :
- Ferries :
Our itinerary :
- Uig, Skye to Tarbert, Isle of Harris : 42.20£ (1 car = 30£ + 2 persons = 6.10£ each)
- Leverburgh, Isle of Harris to Berneray : 49.50£ (1 car = 34.50£ + 2 persons = 7.50£ each)
- Lochboisdale, Isle of South Uist to Oban : 94.60£ (1 car = 66£ + 2 persons = 14.30£ each)
Look for prices and routes on the Caledonian MacBrayne website. They also offer combined tickets, it might save you some money. The ferry from South Uist to Oban offers showers, WiFi and plugs to charge your devices (although the WiFi signal wasn’t working well). Also watch out for tidal disruptions in the sound of Harris… Caledonian MacBrayne are active on social media it could be interesting to follow them to get updates.
- Petrol costs : extremely expensive… between 1.25£ to 1.30£ per litre, cheaper on Harris & Lewis than on the Uists. But one petrol station that was at 1.18£.
- Internet : Some bars & cafes have free Wifi but unlimited WiFi is rare as they don’t have fibroptic but satellite Internet. Go to Libraries for free internet on computers.
- The Ardmaree Lobster Pot Tearoom on Berneray offers free WiFi for 45 mins to its customers then it’s £2.50 for another 45 mins (not a very warm customer service though).
- Linaclate community library in the school building (same as the sports centre) offers free internet on computers and the staff is really helpful.
- Swimming pools :
Have you been to the Outer Hebrides before ? If not, is it on your bucket list now ? Let us know in the comments below !