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
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