Highlights:

  • Explore the extraordinary Callanish standing stones on Lewis, more than 5,000 years old and rivalling Stonehenge in importance
  • Visit the Harris Eagle Observatory and scan the skies for the rare and beautiful Golden Eagles which make the island their home
  • Learn about the history of the Macdonald clan on Skye and visit the ruins of a castle where Flora Macdonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to the island was married more than 250 years ago
  • Enjoy an evening of traditional Scottish food and music and get some tips on the Gaelic language.
  • Stay in a 17th century former hunting lodge, still owned by the high chief of the Macdonald clan

The procession of islands, islets and reefs that form the remote Western Isles, off Scotlands northwest coast boasts some of the most wild, beautiful and contrasting landscapes in Britain.

Turbulent seas boil around dramatic coastlines and here hardy islanders still pursue the age-old activities of crofting, fishing and weaving.

Each Hebridean island retains its own special character, from Lewis heather-blanketed rolling moorland with its scattering of small grey cottages to Harris, land of high mountains, with an interior moon-like landscape.

On Skye the stark rise of the jagged Cuillin ridge drops to a surprising soft sand beach. Here, it seems, time has stood still and the splendid isolation means that wildlife and nature have been able to flourish.

We discover mysterious ancient stones, learn some Gaelic, sample a dram or two of whisky, scour the skies for elusive Golden Eagles, and learn about the bloody history of this part of Scotland, which sent so many islanders to the New World to forge a new life.

Sunday Overnight: Borve House Hotel

We rendezvous at Stornoway Airport and then travel north to Borve, the only town on the Isle of Lewis. Our hotel is situated towards the most northerly point of the Long Island (as Lewis and Harris are sometimes called). Our welcome meeting and dinner is at the hotel.

Monday Overnight: Borve House Hotel

We head out towards the dramatic, northerly, extremity of Lewis; an area, some claim is the windiest spot in the UK! We walk towards the landmark red-brick Butt of Lewis lighthouse. Our mid morning break is in the home of local islanders, Louise and Pete, where we will be returning later for an evening of delicious local food and music. Our walk resumes past the eerie and remote cemetery where over ten thousand Lewis folk are buried. We lunch at the Ness historical society and learn about the guga (gannet) hunt and get some tips on speaking Gaelic. In the afternoon we continue past the attractive little port of Ness to the remains of an iron- age fort and glimpse a cave said to have contained a very active and illegal whisky distillery still in years gone by. After a welcome cup of tea and local cake in a cafe overlooking the port of Ness, we return to our hotel for a wash and brush up and then back to Ness for supper and some singing!

Tuesday Overnight: Harris Hotel

We head southwards to Harris but, before we leave Lewis, we stop to explore the standing stones of Callanish - one of the most important prehistoric sites in the UK. It consists of a stone circle, a central monolith and five radiating rows of stones, which form an avenue, aligning true north linking with Stonehenge and Avebury. We drive to our second walk of the day which starts close to the boundary of Lewis and Harris, following the Harris walkway, taking us past Lochanan Lascadail and some wonderful hills, glens and lochs. We lunch at our next hotel where Matt, the ranger for North Harris, awaits to tell us all about golden eagles. After lunch we drive the short journey to the Harris Eagle Observatory. The mountains of Harris are home to 20 pairs of these eagles. Matt will help us scan the skies for these magnificent birds soaring over the ridges on either side of the glen.

Wednesday Overnight: Harris Hotel

This morning we venture into South Harris to enjoy a walk of extremes: from the wild barren rock of the east to the fertile machair and white sands of the west. The brutal highland clearances of the 19th century displaced the population to the barren, rocky, poor soil in the east. However, when one of the islanders died, their body was carried to be interred in the deep soils and consecrated ground of the west. We will be following The Coffin Walk taken by the funeral parties. There are fabulous views over to the machair lands and white beaches fringed with fields of wild flowers. Our lunch venue is the Harris Community Centre where locals hold ceilidhs.

Thursday Overnight: Duisdale House Hotel

Today its over the sea to Skye, but not before we enjoy our final hike on Harris and discover a small loch and the abandoned village of Direacleit, from where we can watch our ferry arrive. We lunch on board the ferry and, on arrival in Uig, we drive to the island's main town Portree with its multi-coloured houses and bustling port. Our next walk is a coastal circuit with extensive views of the harbour, finishing with a tasty cream tea. We then embark on the final leg of our journey, an hour's drive through the Cuillin Hills, the most spectacular and challenging mountains in Britain and a mecca for rock climbers, towards our hotel in the fertile Garden of Skye.

Friday Overnight: Duisdale House Hotel

We walk from our hotel through the woodland that surrounds it and enjoy stunning views of the Sound of Sleat. Reaching another abandoned village, this one cleared by the ancestor of the Macdonalds. It was formerly home to families of woodcutters most of whom sought a new life in Nova Scotia. After lunch in the wonderfully positioned Gaelic Inn of the Eilean Iarmain hotel on the promontory of the isle of Oransay, we explore the gardens and estate paths surrounding the ruins of Armadale Castle. The Castle was home to the Macdonalds, chiefs until 1925 when it was left to the wind and the rain. Flora Macdonald who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape to Skye was married here in 1790. There is a fascinating museum to explore after our walk which documents 1500 years of history, culture and bloody battles. At the end of the afternoon, we return to our hotel for our Farewell Dinner.

Saturday

After breakfast, it is time to bid farewell to the Western Isles.
Easy-Moderate
'Picture a paradise of powder white beaches and Atlantic waves, dark moor and rugged mountains, amazing wildlife and a rich and vibrant culture. I can't wait to show it to you!' Philippa Besant, Walk Leader
Terrain: Gentle hill walking, woodland tracks, well laid trails. Options for more or less vigorous walking. Likely strong winds at times and damp under foot. Waterproof boots and wet weather gear essential. 8-10 miles walking per day.

TRIP DETAILS

6 nights from
$4,395.00
per person, double occupancy
(Single Supplement $565.00)
Our Wayfarers friends Price is $4,175.00

Dates

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Arrival: Stornoway Airport
Departure: Mallaig (onward train travel from Mallaig to Glasgow Queen Street Rail Station also included)

Activities

Walk Classic
Outer Hebrides Map

Hotels - Where we stay

Borve House Hotel

Borve House Hotel

Situated in an idyllic location on the stunning west coast of the Isle of Lewis, the Borve House offers elegant and modern accommodation, with a traditional island welcome. The nine comfortable bedrooms offer state-of-the-art TV's with national and international TV and radio stations, WiFi internet access and tea and coffee making facilities. The well-stocked bars offer a range of local and international beers, wines and a tempting selection of malt and blended whiskies from throughout Scotland. Award winning Head Chef Alan MacRitchie uses the finest local produce to deliver a range of classic and creative dishes in the restaurant.

Harris Hotel

Harris Hotel

A warm welcome awaits you at this well-established hotel, which has been family owned and run for more than 100 years. Harris Hotel was built in 1865 by the 7th Earl of Dunmore, and was originally called the Tarbert Hotel. At the time, he owned the North Harris Estate and built the hotel as a "sporting retreat" for anglers. The original visitor books, stretching back to the 1880s, are still kept on the premises, and show a number of famous guests have stayed here over the last three centuries. J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, signed the visitor book in 1912, then at the height of his fame as a playwright. He even took the time to etch his initials on the dining room window, which can still be seen today. All rooms have flat-screen televisions, hair dryers and hot drinks tray. The downstairs areas have free WiFi access for mobile devices. The menu offers an extensive choice of dishes using the freshest of local ingredients, including fresh fish, shellfish, lamb, beef and venison served with a modern and contemporary flair.

Duisdale House Hotel

Duisdale House Hotel

Surrounded by extensive gardens and the historic Duisdale Forest, Duisdale House Hotel stands on a hillside on the beautiful Isle of Skye, with panoramic views across the Sound of Sleat at the islands southern tip.
Built in 1865 as a Hunting Lodge, Duisdale House provides a peaceful place to stay. The hotels period features have been lovingly refurbished to make the most of the buildings character while ensuring modern comforts. Most rooms have captivating views over the mature gardens and forest and some have mountain views. All are en-suite with elegant, contemporary dcor. Facilities include TV, wifi, hairdryer and a hospitality tray.
Guests are free to walk in the 30 acres of forest surrounding the hotel and can enjoy the outdoor hot tub, which is available exclusively for residents. This 4-star hotel was named Scotlands Independent Hotel of the Year (Catering in Scotland Awards, 2015) and the restaurant has been awarded two AA rosettes. ,

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What Is Included in the Price of My Vacation

  • Full-time services of two staff - a Walk Leader and Walk Manager
  • A backup vehicle for resting walkers and moving luggage
  • Comprehensive Travel Information Package and Reading List
  • Diverse itineraries with an emphasis on history, geography, culture, peoples, flora and fauna
  • Demonstrations, wine tasting, admissions to museums and historic sites
  • All ground transfers (ferries, cable cars, trains, etc.)
  • Maps and unique souvenirs to commemorate your trip
  • First-class accommodations with cultural and historical interest
  • All meals - with choices - (Special dietary requirements? No problem!)
  • Wine with dinner
  • On-trail snacks and refreshments
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants