Book with confidence for 2021
(Hebrdiean Way) Looking onto Benbecula as the route approaches the third causeway of the trip
HEBRDIEAN WAY    12 stages. 13 nights . Scottish Islands    Sounds perfect? View our trip!

Hebridean Way: A guide to the trek

Walking guides - see all our background pages

Bare facts

The Hebridean Way is a walking trail running for 250km across the Outer Hebrides, the remote string of inhabited islands off the west coast of Scotland. It was created in 2017 combining a number of existing walkways with new paths to create a complete route.

We suggest walking South to North to make use of the prevailing winds. Starting on Vatersay in the South, the route passes over Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray, Harris and finishes in Stornoway in Lewis.

The route is generally low lying, with the highest point being 250m on Barra. On Benbecula the route passes over the island’s highest point, at 124m.

Trekkers completing the whole Hebridean take around a fortnight. The route also lends itself to two shorter trips: Barra and the Uists, trekking the southern half from Vatersay to Berneray, or the northern half across Harris and Lewis.

Trips 2021 and 2022

Alpine Exploratory offers the following holidays based on our Hebrdiean Way research:

Hebridean Way: Vatersay to Stornoway
Hebridean Way South: Barra & Uists
Hebridean Way North: Harris & Lewis

Please see our Hebridean Way Holiday Page for all trip details


Hannah at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2020 research on the Hebridean Way was led by:
Hannah in August

Recces 2021

  Temple ruins outside Carinish on North Uist    Hebridean Way

Best bits

Spectacular sights
The Hebridean Way has its fair share of amazing sights. A highlight is the view from Rubhal, the highest point on Benbecula. Though it’s only 124m tall, the surrounding area is even lower still and on a clear day the views are super! Out to the west the remote St Kilda can be seen on the horizon, the most westerly point of the UK, the archipelago was cleared in the 1930s and it is now a sea bird haven. To the east look out for the impressive Cullin ridge on Skye and more mainland munros behind. Southward look down towards Barra at the route already walked, and turn north to see what’s still to come, on North Uist, Harris and Lewis.

Most enjoyable stages
The first day across Barra proves an enticing beginning, showcasing both the beaches and hill passes across the moor which characterise the trip. It gives a great flavour of what’s to come.

The stages along the Machair Way have special charm, being so flat and coastal they are very different to a typical day on a long-distance walk. In summer particularly the carpet of flowers makes for a colour walk.

On Harris the walk from Horgabost to Tarbert is a scenic highlight. Cross from the sandy beaches of the west along the Old Coffin Road to the more rugged eastern side of the island.

Photos from trips: Hebrdiean Way

The Hebridean Way relative to other walks

The Hebirdean Way is similar in length to the Coast to Coast at around 2 weeks, being shorter than our 3 week Pennine Way trip and longer than our 1 week on the West Highland Way.

Like the West Highland Way, the Hebridean Way gives a full flavour of Highland life. Though the route is flatter, more similar in this respect to the Great Glen Way, the scenery is much more varied and there is a great feeling of progressing through the different islands.

The Hebridean Way crosses quite wild land, often with a feeling of being far from civilisation and in this way the route is more akin to the Pennine Way.

  Looking down to the west coast of Barra from sides of Beinn Eireabhal    Hebridean Way

Is it for me?

Long distance paths
The UK has a wealth of long distance paths: trails on which your multi-day walk becomes your personal mission for the duration. We love the feeling of completing another stage on the trail and arriving at the next accommodation. In this case Lewis and more particularly Stornoway will be one step nearer as you settle into the daily life of moving up the island chain.

Can I manage it?
The Hebridean Way is a manageable trek for normal fit walkers who are happy to walk for between roughly 5 and 8 hours per day along a long-distance trail. Some of the days are perhaps longer than one might normally plan for due the location of accommodation. However, the daily distances can mislead; the miles pass quickly on the sections of flatter ground and on the unavoidable road sections. On other days the wetter moorland sections provide their own challenge. In any case it will greatly help your enjoyment of the walk to arrive fit at the start, used to days of similar distance that you are about to face.

If the whole trek seems too much to bite off at once, start with a week long trip. The southern half is a little flatter with the coast being more of a feature and a great feeling of progressing through the many small islands. On the northern Lewis and Harris, the terrain is a little more remote and the wild moors are the defining feature.

What's it like underfoot?
Beaches, narrow footpaths, open moorland, tracks and roads are typical on the Hebridean way, which was created by joining up existing footpaths and trails with new purpose-built paths and sections of road. Stiles and gates are less common than on our other UK routes.

The road sections can at times seem a little extensive, but they are unavoidable especially on the long sections of causeway, most noticeable is the crossing from Benbecula, over Grimsay and onto North Uist.

On some moorland sections, traditional raised turf paths have been created by digging drainage channels either side of a raised grass path. This helps keep feet dry on wet terrain where more typical paths risk sinking into the wet ground.

Is the route obvious?
The Hebridean Way is generally signed throughout, though on some of the more open moorland sections the marker posts can be a little sporadic. The strong winds and roaming cattle have been an obstacle to marker posts remaining upright. At junctions the way in generally signed with a larger more substantial white signpost indicating the distances to the nearest settlements. A map, compass and skills to use them are essential on the moorland sections when the clouds close in.

Is it technically difficult?
The challenge of the Hebridean Way comes not in high mountain days but in the general remoteness and wild atmosphere of the Western Isles. The settlements are scarce and there are few refreshments stops or points of shelter on many stages. There is no climbing or scrambling, and very view sections of steep rocky paths. For most of the distance gradients are gentle and the surface is reasonably smooth.

When to go?
UK Exploratory's Hebridean Way season runs from the start of May to the middle of September.

We set this period to avoid the worst of the winter weather, For the warmest temperatures choose the high summer months of July and August. May and June are often wonderful times to visit with the flowers in full bloom and to beat the midges! September sees shorter days but can see crisp beautiful days and tends to be a less touristy time.

Where to stay

Accommodation on the Outer Hebrides is a little scarce and there are less options than on the more well-known UK walks. We use hotels with good restaurants and a mix of friendly B&Bs. In the small villages of the Hebrides the hotels are often the only places to eat out around, making them popular with locals and visitors.

Trek the Hebridean Way with UK Exploratory

Self-guided holidays
UK Exploratory offers three self-guided walking holidays on the Hebridean Way. Cover the whole route in about a fortnight, or tackle either half on a week-long trip.

Our self-guided holidays give you what you need to trek the route yourself, in a satisfying and adventurous trip. We book and pay for your accommodation along the route. Your info pack includes our details routecards, the maps, and lots of local and logistical information. We’re here to take care of the planning and to make sure your trip runs smoothly.

Guided and self-guided holidays - see our full range

Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.
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