Walk the new Hebridean Way
I wrote about the new 156-mile Hebridean Way in my Sunday Mail column. Read the pdf or the article below.
The new Hebridean Way
What is it?: The Hebridean Way is newly waymarked long-distance walk in the Outer Hebrides.
Tell me more: The Hebridean Way launches this summer and offers a 156-mile signposted walk the length of the beautiful island chain.
The route starts on the island of Vatersay and visits the islands of Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray and Harris to finish at the town of Stornoway on Lewis.
Walkers cross six narrow causeways between the isles and take two short ferries as part of the Hebridean journey.
The route crosses a mix of terrain including existing footpaths, peat tracks, quiet roads and purpose-built sections.
It’s expected that walkers will take one to two weeks to complete the Hebridean Way on foot, depending on speed and fitness.
A new guidebook by Cicerone, Walking the West Hebridean Way, details the walk split into 10 stages of 10 to 22 miles.
It is also hoped that island visitors will make use of the waymarked route for day or weekend walks.
Anything else to know?: Few other places in Scotland offer such a rich combination of landscape and wildlife in one small area.
The Hebridean archipelago boasts beautiful sandy beaches, turquoise seas, rugged hills and flower-rich machair.
Wildlife spotting opportunities are impressive and includes are chance to spot red deer, otters, myriad seabirds and waders, as well as birds of prey.
A Bird of Prey Trail, which spans the Outer Hebrides, has location markers for the best places to see raptors.
Another popular part of our Scottish island wildlife is the wonderful sealife, such as porpoises, dolphins, orca and minke whales and basking sharks.
You may be lucky enough to see the sea mammals form the land, or else you could join a boat trip.
In addition, there is the unique Gaelic culture of the Western Isles to enjoy and a wealth of archaeology to discover, including Neolithic and Bronze Age remains, ruined forts and castles and monuments commemorating Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highland Land Struggle.
Top tip: It’s recommended that walkers start in the south and walk north to take advantage of the prevailing south-westerly winds.
How to get there: A CalMac ferry travels between Oban, on the west coast mainland of Scotland, to Castlebay on Barra. See www.calmac.co.uk
Alternatively, you can fly in to the famous Barra Airport, which is the only scheduled air service in the world to use a beach as a runway. See www.hial.co.uk
The start point of the Hebridean Way is five miles from Castlebay on Vatersay, which can be reached by bus, taxi or on foot.
In Stornoway, at the end of the walk, the options to return to the mainland include a Calmac ferry to Ullapool or fly to Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen.
Anything else to do?: If you prefer to cycle there is also a waymarked Hebridean Way cycle route.
The 185-mile ride follows the National Cycle Network route (NCN 780) on a mix of main and quieter roads.