Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides (Benbecula - Stornoway)

6 Days

From £955pp

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Our extended tour of the Hebrides has proved extremely popular, offering as it does a unique opportunity to travel the length and breadth of the Western Isles. Our Grand tour takes in all the beauty and diversity of this very special environment with eleven different islands and four ferry trips included. Two comfortable hotels ensure that this holiday is as relaxing as possible while at the same time offering great variety and the sense of a true journey of discovery which will live long in the memory.

Our odyssey begins with a scenic drive to Mallaig before taking the ferry to Lochboisdale in South Uist and continuing to our hotel in Benbecula. From here we visit the islands of Eriskay; Vatersay with its fantastic sandy beaches, and Barra, including visits to Kisimul Castle and Cockleshell Beach, used as the island’s airport. A captivating journey follows as we travel north by ferry from North Uist and on through the magnificent mountain scenery of Harris and the rolling moorland of Lewis to Stornoway, our base for the next three nights. We continue with visits to the remarkable Standing Stones of Callanish, the tranquil little Norse Mill at Shawbost and the distinctive Black Houses at Gearannan. Our return route takes us by ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool.

Tour highlights:

  • A view of the mist-covered Cuillins as you drive across Skye
  • The unique airport at Cockleshell Beach
  • 5000 year old standing stones
  • The tranquil location of the Norse Mill at Shawbost 
  • Four scenic ferry crossings  
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Day 1

We depart from our designated pick-up points, stopping en-route for refreshments (not included) and travel via Glen Coe, Fort William and Glenfinnan to Mallaig. From here we take the late afternoon ferry to Lochboisdale in South Uist, with dinner served on board. Look out for the Small Isles of Rum and Canna to port and the Cuillin Hills on the Isle of Skye to starboard. On arrival we continue over causeways (keeping a careful eye out for otters) to Benbecula, the ‘stepping stone’ between the Uists, where we arrive in the late evening at our base for the next two nights.

Dinner will be served in the evening.

Day 2

After our full Scottish breakfast we will depart for Barra, travelling via the little island of Eriskay, just three miles long and two miles wide, with a great sandy beach known as Prince Charlie’s Bay – Bonnie Prince Charlie having landed here in July 1745. From Eriskay we make the short ferry crossing to Barra and have a tour of the island, including a visit by boat to Kisimul Castle, the only surviving medieval castle in the Western Isles and the seat of the Clan MacNeil. The castle features a great hall, kitchen, chapel, dungeon and 60-foot tower, together with a shop. We will also visit Cockleshell Beach, the unique runway whose use is governed by the tides. On approaching the airport keep an eye out to the left for the much loved former home of Sir Compton Mackenzie, the author of ‘Whisky Galore’, which is forever associated with the island. In fact, it was on the neighbouring island of Vatersay, which we will visit by means of the causeway linking the two islands, that the classic film adaptation was made. In the course of our tour today we also hope to see some of the hundreds of species of wild flowers that grow on the island, particularly on the machair, the fertile, grassy pastures that lie between the moorland and the sea.

We return via the Eriskay ferry to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.

Day 3

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and take the mid-morning ferry from Berneray to Leverburgh at the southern end of Harris and visit St Clement’s Church at Rodel, built on top of an earlier structure in the 16th century by Alasdair Crotach, 8th chief of the Macleods of Harris and Dun Bheagan. The church tombs are among the most spectacular in Scotland. There are outstanding views as we travel along the coast, including the island of Taransay of ‘Castaway’ fame, and the wonderful beaches at Horgabost, Borve and Scarasta. We will pause for refreshments (not included) in Tarbert, before continuing through the mountainous countryside of Harris which eventually gives way to the rolling moorland of Lewis. We continue to the island capital of Stornoway and our comfortable accommodation at the Cabarfeidh Hotel.

Dinner will be served in the evening.

Day 4

This morning after breakfast we will travel to the west coast of Lewis for a visit to the 5,000 year old Standing Stones of Callanish. Undoubtedly the most remarkable antiquity in the Western Isles, this collection of almost 50 stones forms a well-marked megalithic avenue, comprising 19 monoliths, ending in a circle of 13 stones, with a great cairn at the centre. Entry to the Visitor Centre is included.

From here we move on to the Black Houses at Gearannan, typical of the crofting settlements which until relatively recently were found throughout the Western Isles.

The final visit on our circular tour is the Norse Mill at Shawbost, where barley grain was ground into meal by Viking settlers. A short walk past a small lochan leads to two beautifully restored little thatched buildings with a fine view to the ocean beyond.

Dinner will be served back at our hotel in the evening.

Day 5

This morning, following breakfast, we shall visit the Lews Castle and Museum where we can meet the famous Lewis Chessmen and view the Outer Hebrides as never before in a wrap-around audio-visual presentation.

This afternoon we will visit St Columba’s Ui Church at Point, just outside Stornoway, one of the most important archaeological sites on the Isle of Lewis. It was the main church during the medieval period and is a burial place for the Macleod chiefs and the Mackenzies who controlled the island in later years.

We then drive up to the most northerly tip of the island, home to generations of sturdy seafarers. At the Port of Ness we will see the harbour that has seen the local seaman off on many a mission and at the Butt of Lewis we will view the unique Stevenson lighthouse that stands sentinel here, surrounded by the swell of the restless ocean.

Dinner is served in the evening.

Day 6

This morning we check out of the hotel and take the early morning Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool which takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes (breakfast will be served on board). We then continue our homeward journey, arriving back at our original pick-up points in the afternoon.

Included in the price

  • Five nights’ accommodation on a dinner, bed and full breakfast basis: two nights at the Isle of Benbecula Hotel (with additional rooms provided at the Dark Island Hotel as required) and three nights at the Cabarfeidh Hotel, Stornoway (one dinner and one breakfast served on board the ferry).  All rooms have private facilities
  • Comfortable coaching throughout
  • Ferry transfers as detailed
  • Visits to the Standing Stones of Callanish, the Gearannan Black Houses, Shawbost Norse Mill, Lewis; St Clement’s Church, Rodel; Kisimul Castle, Cockleshell Beach and Vatersay; Lews Castle and Museum, the Butt of Lewis and St Columba’s Ui Church
  • Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager

Not included (per person)

  • Single room supplement £150.00
  • Insurance
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Departures

2019 DATES AVAILABLE - view our 2019 tour and departure dates

Please note all pick-ups are subject to minimum numbers and all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

Sold out 26/08/2018

Sold out 09/09/2018

21/05/2019 from £955pp

18/06/2019 from £955pp

23/07/2019 from £955pp

20/08/2019 from £955pp

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Departure points and times

Depart Return
Perth
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0900 1600
Kinross
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0930 1630
Dunfermline
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0945 1645
Edinburgh
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1015 1715
Glasgow
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1130 1830
Subject to minimum numbers, the following pick-up will be served by feeder coach and passengers will join/leave in Perth:
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Dundee
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0830 1630
Please note while we are unable to pick up in Inverness on Day 1 we can drop off there on the last day (1200 approx).
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Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately 10 days prior to departure.
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