Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides

6 Days

From £785pp

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  • Four scenic ferry crossings
  • Blindingly white sandy beaches on South Uist and Vatersay
  • The unique airport at Cockleshell Beach
  • 5000 year old standing stones
  • The tranquil location of the Norse Mill at Shawbost
  • Ocean sunsets at the Isle of Barra Hotel

The concept of a Grand Tour might seem almost at odds with the famously laid-back pace of life in Scotland’s Western Isles, but bear with us: on these remote islands, you’d be hard-pressed not to discover a new archaeological gem at every turn. Whether discovering Norse mills or ancient hills, this is truly a place where time is on our side.

In the far north of the United Kingdom, at Europe’s Atlantic edge, we find a string of islands that is unique indeed. Prehistoric sites, windswept beaches, artists’ hideaways, and imposing castles dot landscapes that are alternately wild and homely.

Here in the Outer Hebrides, there is a uniquely slow pace of life reminiscent of times past — in the north, establishments go into once-weekly hibernation in observation of the Sabbath, while up and down the island chain there is a pleasing dissonance as ancient sites meet modern life. Just off the coast of Barra, we journey by boat to ‘The Castle in the Sea’, the impregnable, wave-lapped Kisimul Castle; on the Isle of Lewis we see Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln, an accomplished restoration and a fascinating insight into a way of life once common on the island; and walk amongst the mysterious Standing Stones of Callanish.

But a trip to the Outer Hebrides is by no means just about the sites — here, the journeys themselves are just as much of an event. Enjoy a scenic southward drive from Lewis, punctuated by mist-cloaked hilltops, green expanses and steely seas; a serene early morning ferry ride on the Sound of Harris, and much more as we explore these fascinating islands.

And now, our flagship tour has just got even better: with more lunches, wine at dinner, hotel porterage, and service charges all included for 2018, as well as the great hotels and expert guides you've already come to love, there's never been a better time to pay a visit to the Outer Hebrides with Brightwater.

 

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Day 1

We depart from our designated pick-up points and head north, stopping en-route for refreshments. We continue to Ullapool in time to catch the early evening Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Stornoway. On arrival in Lewis, we transfer the short distance to our comfortable accommodation at the Cabarfeidh Hotel, where dinner will be served on arrival.

Day 2

We 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. 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.

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

Day 3

We set out on a breathtaking journey that will take us virtually the entire length of the island chain known as the Outer Hebrides. We travel south to Harris, which in contrast to the rolling moorland of Lewis is more mountainous. There are numerous outstanding views as we travel along the coast today. We also make our way over a series of causeways via the ‘stepping stone’ of Benbecula to South Uist, a stronghold of Gaelic culture and traditions. We continue to the little island of Eriskay, with a great sandy beach known as Prince Charlie’s Bay – Bonnie Prince Charlie having landed here in July 1745. 

Dinner is served at our hotel this evening.

Day 4

After breakfast we take 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. We also visit Cockleshell Beach, the unique runway whose use is governed by the tides. 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. 

Dinner is served at our hotel this evening.

Day 5

After breakfast, you have the day free to relax in the hotel or take a walk on the beach or the surrounding hills. This is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this charming little island on the penultimate day of our tour. 

Dinner is served at our hotel this evening.

Day 6

This morning we check out of the hotel and take the ferry from Castlebay to Oban. The relaxing passage takes us across the ocean swell of the Atlantic, with views to Coll and Tiree to starboard and Skye and the Small Isles to port, along the Sound of Mull and across the Firth of Lorn to Oban. We continue our homeward journey, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.

What's Included

  • 2 nights at the Cabarfeidh Hotel, Stornoway; 3 nights at the Isle of Barra Hotel – dinner, bed & breakfast
  • All coaching and ferry transfers
  • Visits to the Standing Stones of Callanish, the Gearrannan Black Houses and the Norse Mill, Kildonan Visitor Centre, and Vatersay
  • Services of a professional tour manager

2018

We're covering more than ever in the price of your 2018 tour, including:

  • Porterage
  • All tips
  • More lunches; wine with dinner
  • On-board water bottles on coach journeys

Supplements per person

  • Single room supplement: £260
  • Insurance: £21.00 (under 65); £42.00 (65-74); £63.00 (75-90)

Connecting flights, rail travel and accommodation before or after the tour available on request 

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Departures

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.

06/08/2017 from £785pp

03/09/2017 from £785pp

10/09/2017 from £785pp

24/09/2017 from £785pp

13/05/2018 from £1195pp

10/06/2018 from £1195pp

12/08/2018 from £1195pp

09/09/2018 from £1195pp

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Departure points and times

Depart Return
Glasgow
(Outside Millennium Hotel)
0830 1700
Edinburgh
(Edinburgh Marriott Hotel)
0945 1815
Dunfermline
(Outside Fife College)
1015 1845
Kinross
(Moto Services, M90)
1045 1915
Perth
(Canal Street)
1115 1945
Inverness
(Inverness Hotel)
1500 Does not return to Inverness
Subject to minimum numbers, the following pick-ups will be served by feeder coach and passengers will join/leave the main coach in Perth:
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Dundee
(Outside Discovery Point)
1045 2015