Na h-Eileanan Siar
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Separated from the mainland of Western Scotland by the quaintly named seas of The Minch and Little Minch lie the Outer Hebrides with its profuse amount of islands, only 15 of which are actually lived on. The largest island to visit and stay is Lewis, the other islands being Harris, North Uist, South Uist, Benbecula, and the smaller island of Barra.
The Outer Hebrides on the whole is a wild place, somewhere for the keen walker, artist and naturalist. The landscapes are large and expansive, the western parts being low lying. Harris and the eastern side is mountainous and green. There are numerous lochs dotted about and many areas of conservation, especially bird reserves. The Butt of Lewis is the northernmost point and has appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the windiest place in the United Kingdom, sticking out as it does into the North Atlantic.
On the more outlying islands are great populations of sea birds of different species, the Gannet being the most widespread with St Kilda boasting the largest nesting sites internationally.
If you want deserted beaches that resemble the tropics then you do not need go any further, there are tropical style beaches a plenty. On most of them you will be lucky to find any people at all, take a coat with you though as it can be on the cool side.
The islands also have their own set of historic sites with one of the best stone circles to be found in Scotland, dating back to 2900BC, the Callanish Stones, is a striking site to visit.
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Stornoway is the most sizeable town and can be found on Lewis, it's the main entry point with air and ferry terminals and also the main tourist centre - family friendly, with restaurants, cafes and bars, a castle and harbour area, parts of which are as pretty as a picture. From here you can pick up tours and cruises and find places to stay if you wish, click on our menu above to help find the type of accommodation you are looking for.
The islands are full of culture, music, drama, literature and a deep sense of Christianity. Harris a beautiful place in its own right with its fishing villages and dramatic scenery. It is also the place to find the home of the famous Harris Tweed cloth which must be made from pure virgin wool which has been dyed and spun on the islands and hand-woven at the home of the weaver in the Outer Hebrides. The cloth also as to be 'finished' at one of three mills in the Outer Hebrides. Genuine Harris Tweed bears the "Orb" hallmark. There are several places on the islands where the finished articles (suits, jackets, waistcoats, caps, bags, slippers and dozens more items) can be bought, and a few more where the cloth can be purchased.
Island hopping mostly by causeways and ferries is the way to get the whole flavour of this group of Scottish Isles and there will always be something for the family or individual to do.
North Uist is another beautiful place to visit with freshwater lochs, a fisherman's dream. Rugged moorlands await the adventurous and beaches are dotted with seals. Lochmaddy is the main town and it has a pretty water front in its sheltered bay. There is a ferry terminal here with links to Uig on Skye.
The tiniest island is lovely Barra with its single track lanes and fishing villages. The people are very community based being so isolated, and there will be many a Ceilidh for you to join in with. Castle Bay is its main town, nestling in a beautiful, sheltered bay. Dolphins can be seen from here. The island also possesses a very different sort of airport - the beach being used as its runway!Read More