(Hebridean Way) Loch Druidibeag on South Uist
HEBRIDEAN WAY (SELF-GUIDED)   12 stages . 13 nights . Outer Hebrides   Booking

Hebridean Way
Self-guided trekking holiday


+ Trek through 10 Scottish islands, from Vatersay to Lewis
+ Flexible itineraies to plan your ideal trip
+ Start on any day within our season


Latest news November 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.

The Hebridean Way crosses the Western Isles, located off the West Coast of Scotland, from Vatersay in the South to Stornoway in the North. This 156-mile route goes over the chain of 10 islands, with 6 causeways and 2 ferry crossings.

Launched in 2017 after the success of the cycle route, new paths were built to link with existing paths and sections of road, showcasing the best of the Western Isles. From outstanding sandy beaches, to wild moorland and rugged hills, the way offers a variety of changing terrain and scenery. Look out for deer and eagles as you walk across the moors, and dolphins and seals along the coast. In summer a carpet of flowers over the machair injects colour into the landscape, contrasting with the turquoise sea and white beaches.

The unique history of the islands provides added interest. Archaeological remains of standing circles and chambered cairns can be found close to the route, and blackhouses (which are actually white with a thatched roof) are dotted around. The prevalence of Gaelic culture is still clear in the road signs and town names; most settlements have an English and a Gaelic name.

Our route takes in the whole of the Hebridean Way from Vatersay to Stornoway. The trek is on the whole remarkably flat, but there are sections of hills, particularly on the first stage from Vatersay to Ardmhor Slip.


Map


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Hebridean Way self-guided walking holiday

Prices


Alpine Exploratory
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
HBWsg Hebridean Way (Self-guided)
3 May to 18 September 2020
12 stages
(13 nights)

Please ask
1,090
Singles 325
Main HBW
Please ask
HBSsg Hebridean Way South: Barra & Uists (Self-guided)
3 May to 18 September 2020
7 stages
(8 nights)

Please ask
780
Singles 200
Please ask
HBNsg Hebridean Way North: Harris & Lewis (Self-guided)
3 May to 18 September 2020
5 stages
(6 nights)

Please ask
640
Singles 150
Please ask
Options
Baggage transfer
All stops
Please ask
Baggage transfer
Direct
Please ask


Itinerary and other key information


Itinerary

Here is our normal schedule of 12 stages:


Arrival day: Arrive in Castlebay
After a scenic ferry from Oban or a flight landing on the beach runway on Barra, your trip begins on arrival at your accommodation in Castlebay. This small village with two hotels is the largest settlement on the island.
Hotel in Castlebay

Stage 1: Vatersay to Ardmhor
Red3 grade, 24km with 620m ascent, 620m descent
From Castlebay take a bus to Vatersay to begin the Hebridean Way. The walk starts with one of its most challenging days. With three distinct climbs, in good weather there are great views over Barra, back to the mainland and out across the Atlantic. With sections in the hills and the classic Hebridean beaches, this day offers a preview of all to come in the rest of the walk. From the Pier at Ardmhor, take the bus back to Castlebay for a second night.
Hotel in Castlebay (Breakfast)

Stage 2: Eriskay to Dalabrog
Blue2 grade, 18.5km with 50m ascent, 50m descent
After a morning bus back to Ardmhor, catch the ferry to Eriskay. Passing across Eriskay and over the causeway onto South Uist, the day has a feeling of moving through the islands. This extremely flat day of walking is split into 2 sections: the first is predominantly on roads, and the second is the Machair Way along the coast.
(Your trip includes the Barra to Eriskay ferry.)
Hotel in Dalabrog (Breakfast)

Stage 3: Dalabrog to Drimsdale
Blue3 grade, 23km with 35m ascent, 35m descent
Today's route stays on South Uist and begins by continuing on the Machair Way for 16.5km until Howmore. Views to the Right show South Uist's mountains, including the highest Beinn Mhor, and to the Left the Atlantic stretches out. The day ends with a short road section, passing through villages. From the main road at Drimsdale, travel back to Dalabrog for a second hotel night.
Hotel in Dalabrog (Breakfast)

Stage 4: Drimsdale to Liniclate
Blue3 grade, 23km with 80m ascent, 85m descent
Moving away from the coast, today showcases the moorland of the Hebridean Way, walking through a seemingly endless number of lochs. Stunning views accross the South Uist hills characterise this section. The day finishes with a road stretch to move on to our fifth island: Benbecula.
Hotel in Liniclate (Breakfast)

Stage 5: Liniclate to Carinish
Red3 grade, 27km with 250m ascent, 250m descent
Continuing across Benbecula and briefly crossing Grimsay before arriving onto North Uist, the highlight of today's walk is the ascent of Benbecula's highest hill. Although only 124m high, Ruabhal commands fantastic 360 degree views. On a clear day you can see St Kilda out to the West and to the South East, the Cuillin Ridge on Skye.
Inn in Carinish (Breakfast)

Stage 6: Carinish to Lochmaddy
Blue2 grade, 17.5km with 200m ascent, 200m descent
Today crosses North Uist and is a day of three distinct parts. Start the day with a stretch of moorland broken by a short section of single track road, before arriving at Langass Lodge, an old hunting lodge. Then head up the hill behind the lodge, past an old stone cirle. The forest here is an experiment by the Forestry Commission to see how confier trees grow in exposed environments. Lastly, finish the day with a flat stretch along the old road, and later the main road before heading into Lochmaddy. This is the largest village on North Uist.
Hotel in Lochmaddy (Breakfast)

Stage 7: Lochmaddy to Berneray
Blue2 grade, 17km with 250m ascent, 250m descent
The last day on the Southern half of the route, today's route takes you through flat moorland and over a small hill pass, before crossing the final causeway of the trip to reach Berneray. If time allows it's worth exploring Berneray a little more before taking the ferry to Leverburgh on Harris.
(Your trip includes the Sound of Harris ferry, from Berneray to Leverburgh on its intriguing route.)
B&B in Leverburgh (Breakfast)

Stage 8: Leverburgh to Horgabost
Red2 grade, 18km with 400m ascent, 350m descent
The first stage on Lewis and Harris is one of the most varied on the Northern section, with stunning views of the white beaches and turquoise seascapes of Northton, Scarista and Horgabost. A low-lying route, the challange of the day is the traverse over wet ground.
B&B near Horgabost (Breakfast)

Stage 9: Horgabost to Tarbert
Red3 grade, 29km with 600m ascent, 650m descent
Today's stage, although long, follows mostly good paths and quiet single-track roads. Soak up the final views of Horgabost, Sheileboist and Luskentyre beach and head East to the Bays of Harris along the 'Coffin Route' once used by islanders on the East coast to carry bodies for burial to the graveyards of the West. The day ends at Tarbert, the tiny capital of Harris. With 700 inhabitants it is the largest settlement you have encountered since the start of the walk!
Hotel in Tarbert (Breakfast)

Stage 10: Tarbert to Scaladale
Blue2 grade, 15km with 290m ascent, 170m descent
A shorter walk today, as the route heads North out of Tarbert. The walking is good, following mostly old roads and tracks. There's a section of wetter ground at the end of the day before the path descends to Scaladale on the edge of Loch Seaforth.
B&B off route near Scaladale (Breakfast)

Stage 11: Scaladale to Laxay
Red3 grade, 26km with 400m ascent, 400m descent
The day begins with stunning views up into Gleann Sgaladail and down Loch Seaforth. The trek is completed with a modest half-day stage to the road. Come to Aline woodlands (a failed experimental forestry plantation) and join the old road to Stornoway. At Airidh a Bhruaich the route heads out onto the moor. The path is wet in places but easy to follow. Later reach Baile Aleain (Balallan), one of the longest villages in Scotland and in the final stretch before Laxay cross over Abhainn Lacasaidh, one of Scotland's finest salmon fishing rivers.
B&B in Laxay (Breakfast)

Stage 12: Laxay to Stornoway
Red2 grade, 24km with 300m ascent, 320m descent
The final section of the Hebridean Way is a walk of two distinct parts. The first stretch crosses the moorlands of Lewis on a raised turf path with stunning views stretching from the mainland hills in the East to the island of Great Bernera off the west coast of Lewis. After reaching the small village of Achmore, the route changes and now follows single track roads to the outskirts of Stornoway and the delightful Lews Castle which marks the official end of your journey.
B&B in Stornoway (Breakfast)

Departure day: Depart from Stornoway
Enjoy your last breakfast in Stornoway before departing from the trip. Take the ferry to Ullapool and enjoy the views back to the islands and forward to the mainland. If time allows this is a good chance to explore the remote North West corner of Scotland, before taking the bus to Inverness for onward travel by train or bus.


Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.


Views of the South Uist Hills

Where we stay

Our standard schedule of accommodation uses a mix of comfy and welcoming hotels, inns and B&Bs. Breakfast is included every morning and we book ensuite rooms whenever possible. Unlike in a lot of the UK, most villages don’t have a pub a restaurant, so we make greater use of hotels than on our other UK holidays.

We book accommodation as close to the route as possible but sometimes it's necessary to transfer by bus or taxi to and from your accommodation.

Your info pack contains full details of your accommodation including contact details and directions.


Beutiful beaches along the Machair Way on South Uist

How to get there

Your holiday starts in the small village of Castlebay on Barra and ends in Stornoway on Lewis, the main town of the Outer Hebrides. The quickest way to arrive and depart is to fly directly to the beach airport on Barra and return from Stornoway airport. The ferries also work well, from Oban to get to Castlebay and back from Stornoway to Ullapool.


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Hebridean Way self-guided walking holiday

Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.


Our route

Our approach to the Hebridean Way
The Hebridean Way is a relatively new walk, launched in 2017. Our trip gives a complete journey on foot from Vatersay, to Stornoway on Lewis, using 2 ferries and crossing 6 causeways. We use the comfiest accommodation as close to the route as possible, but sometimes buses or taxis will be needed to get to and from your accommodation.

Terrain
The Hebridean Way terrain comprises wild sections of moorland, narrow hillside paths, farm tracks, and roads. On South Uist in particular the route sticks close to the coast making use of the beaches and paths through the machair. Machair is the low-lying rich grassy plain found on the coast on the exposed North West coastlines of Ireland and Scotland, and in the summer it is covered in a carpet of wildflowers. In moorland sections, peat provides a challenge for building paths, as rocks can sink into the soil, and raised turf paths have been built to show the way and keep feet dry. Old military roads, often running close to today's roads, provide good paths off the road and are used where possible, but there is still a lot of road walking on the route, including, of course, all the causeways.



One of the traditional Black Houses of the Outer Hebrides

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Hebridean Way
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: HBWsg
Route: The Hebridean Way (Walking guide)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 12 days' trekking
Start: Vatersay after night in Castlebay, Barra
End: Stornoway on Lewis
Typical walk: 23km, 250m ascent
Total distance: 250km or 156 miles
Highest altitude: 250m
Grade: Red3 (Walking grades)

A note on grading
Perhaps the main challenge of the Hebridean Way is the length of the stages, more than the ascent or the terrain. Our normal itinerary has a longest day of 27km. We can offer slower schedules, but the location of accommodation makes it hard to shorten many days.



Prices Summer 2020

12 stages, per person:

HBWsg Classic
GBP 1,090 (singles 325)
Book
Hebridean Way (self-guided)



Research Summer 2020

Pete Ellis at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the Hebridean Way was led by:
Pete Ellis in April

Recces 2020

Typical white sandy beach on Harris
Typical white sandy beach on Harris (Photo gallery)


Alpine Exploratory's service

Accommodation
13 nights, staying in:
Small hotels (7)
B&Bs and guesthouses (5)
Inns (1)

Included
Accommodation and itinerary
Breakfasts
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards HBW1-12 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information
Any taxis to your accommodation

Season for self-guided treks
3 May to 18 September 2020
Trek on your ideal dates


View North from Cleit Niosaboist
Wildflowers in the summer (Photo gallery)



Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our HBW background page

Contact us or use this form:


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