Category Archives: Scotland

Touring The Outer Hebrides

After my boat tour out of Oban i had already decided to go on a tour of the Outer Hebrides. I left Oban and headed for the Isle Of Skye where i could catch a ferry. The ferry network is very good and reasonably priced, its a necessity for people living out there so i believe its subsidised by the government.

Arriving in Uig i managed to buy a standby ticket for the ferry to Stornaway. This was at the end of September so if you do this in the summer definitely book your tickets in advance !

After a 2 hour ferry ride you arrive in the port of Tarbert on the Isle Of Harris. There really isn’t very much in Tarbert apart from a couple of local shops and a small hotel with a bar. You are better off moving on and finding accomodation elsewhere.

Waiting on the jetty for the ferry……
The ferry leaving Uig heading to Tarbert.

Lews Castle is to be found west of the town of Stornoway. It was built between 1844-1851 for Sir James Matheson, a man who had made his fortune from the Chinese opium trade.

Leaving Stornaway i headed north and you don’t have to go far before finding a big golden beach. Take any side road and you will soon find the sea.

There are plenty of spotless golden beaches to be found. You might find you are the only one there !!

As this is Scotland you do find the odd stubborn local. This guy really didn’t want to move !!

The locals really don’t budge for anybody……….

I drover further north up the coast all the way to the Butt Of Lewis lighthouse, on the northern most tip of the Isle of Lewis. Its a very rugged coastline usually getting battered by the weather.

Because of the unpredictable weather you’re never far away from seeing a rainbow, usually more than one in the same day !!

Many lonely roads lead to another beach……

Whilst waiting for the ferry to Barra i went for a little walk on the nearside beach…….

Waiting for the ferry to Barra

Apparently the airport at Barra is the only one of its kind. The tidal beach doubles up as the runway strip ! Obviously the flight times here are controlled by more than the weather !

The beach at Barra
A homestead on Barra
The beach………and landing strip at Barra. Passengers cross the beach to board the plane.

The weather can turn very quickly in the outer Hebrides – especially toward the end of September. The local wildlife don’t seem to mind !

More stubborn locals…….

I stayed in a hostel in Barra for a few nights as the weather got so bad the ferries didn’t run for a couple of days.

The castle in the bay, you can get a small boat to take you there – if the weathers good !

After a great tour of the Outer Hebrides i got the ferry back to the mainland. Arriving back in Uig i was met by the sunshine –

Sunset over Uig whilst staying at the excellent Cow Shed hostel.

Driving down through Skye i went to the small village of Elgol on the south coast. Its here you can go on small boat tours around the local lochs and view the Cuillin Hills. I came here because i was here about 40 years ago on a holiday. Some friends of the family own a house on the neighbouring island of Soay. Sadly the boat trips don’t go over to Soay but i could see it in the distance.

Looking out from Elgol across the the Isle Of Soay…….

I left Elgol and started my drive back home. Wildlife is never far away in Scotland –

I actually did this trip back in September/October last year and forgot to write it up. Apologies if its rather patchy as i can’t remember the exact route i took nor all the details of it !

Hopefully the photos tell you of what a wonderful place it is – you really must go there !

Boat Tour From Oban

I was lucky enough to be invited on a boat tour out of Oban by St Hilda Cruises. They operate two boats out of Dunstaffnage marina, one sailing boat and one motor boat. The cruises vary from local 5/6 day trips up to 11/12 day trips to the Outer Hebrides.

The trip i was on would take me along the Sound Of Mull, with stops at Tobermory, Loch Aline, Loch Spelve, and a trip to Duart Castle. Cruises around these parts are always weather dependant so be prepared for the schedule to be updated !

The trip starts from Dunstaffnage marina which is about 3 miles noth of Oban, a short taxi ride away. You are welcomed aboard and given a guided tour and safety briefing of the boat. You soon leave the quayside and head out to your first anchorage on your trip.

Dunstaffnage Marina –

SeaHorse 2 – an ex-Norwegian fjord ferry boat now converted to take 10-12 guests in comfort –

Looking out from the marina –

One of the many lighthouses on the west coast of Scotland –

After our first night at anchor we headed for the main town of Tobermory on the Isle Of Mull. Originally a fishing village it now mainly relies on tourism. With only a couple of bars and hotels, and a couple of cafes theres enough to feed and accomodate the visitors !! Theres an aquarium and the original Tobermory distillery which was founded in 1798.

The small town of Tobermory – Isle Of Mull –

Multi coloured buildings on the sea front –

Tobermory Distillery –

Tobermory distillery

View from the small marina to Tobermory –

View from the top of Tobermory out to sea –

Go fishing they said, throw a line over they said, enjoy yourself they said…………

After the night in Tobermory we headed off to have the morning at Duart Castle. The castle was home to the Maclean clan and dates back to the 13th century. It has been used a few times for TV and film work icluding tge films When Eight Bells Toll and Entrapment. It is currently undergoing restoration after a 2014 appeal was launched to raise funds for irs survival.

Being dropped off at Duart Castle –

View out from Duart castle back to Sea Horse 2 –

Duart castle

After the third day we heard warnings of another one of the big storms coming in. This was storm Ali coming in from the Atlantic.

With warnings of up to 30-40 knot winds we took shelter back in Oban where we could tie up safely to the quayside. Some of the guests went to the local castle in Oban and some toured around town.

We returned to our base in Dunstaffnage marina after our 5 day/5 night tour. Even with the inclement weather (it was late September !) we all enjoyed the tour. Theres stunning scenary to be scene everywhere you look.

Back at the marina in Dunstaffnage – the sun came out on our return (just)!!