The Outer Hebrides - also known as the Western Isles - are traversed on this unique 253km walking route. The route begins on the island of Vatersay, and visits Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray and Harris and Lewis, finishing in the capital, Stornoway.
The route features varied walking and terrain. There are truly magnificent beaches with perfect white sand, fertile grassland meadows known as machair, vast areas of peat moorland speckled with sparkling lochans, and hills whose arresting outlines give them far greater stature than their height suggests.
The islands also offer a unique culture, being the stronghold of the Gaelic language, and superb wildlife. Yet another attraction are the archaelogical remains found throughout the islands - a treasure trove of prehistory. All these things are seen along the way.
Although the trail reaches a maximum altitude of only 270m, it should not be underestimated. The interior of the Outer Hebrides is largely composed of peat, and there is a great deal of boggy terrain on almost all stages. Although mostly well-waymarked, there are several sections which are pathless, so navigation skills are needed. There are also easier sections, with a fair amount of roadwalking and sandy beaches.
The islands are exceptionally windy, and with little tree cover or shelter, much of the route is exposed to any bad weather. Be sure you have adequate clothing and equipment.
|Stage 1: Vatersay and Barra||24km||7-8 hours|
|Stage 2: Eriskay to Daliburgh||17km||4-5 hours|
|Stage 3: Daliburgh to Howmore||18.5km||4-5 hours|
|Stage 4: Howmore to Liniclate||25.5km||6-7 hours|
|Stage 5: Liniclate to Carinish||24.5km||6-7 hours|
|Stage 6: Carinish to Lochmaddy||18km||5-6 hours|
|Stage 7: Lochmaddy to Berneray||16.5km||5-6 hours|
|Stage 8: Leverburgh to Seilebost||21.5km||7-8 hours|
|Stage 9: Seilebost to Tarbert||23.5km||6-7 hours|
|Stage 10: Tarbert to Scaladal||15km||4-5 hours|
|Stage 11: Scaladal to Balallan||21km||5-6 hours|
|Stage 12: Balallan to Stornoway||29.5km||7-8 hours|
Although the islands have a growing population of over 27,000, shops and accommodation are infrequent and the route needs careful planning, particularly for those who are not carrying a tent and stove. Note that even where there are shops and cafes, these are likely to be closed on Sundays, particularly on Harris and Lewis. Also many cafes and hotels are seasonal and some do not open until May - check before relying on them.
The route begins at the community hall on Vatersay, and the first stage leads across the island of Barra. There is one hotel - at Halaman Bay - en route, and some camping grounds nearby and a couple of campsites, there are no facilities at the stage end except for a seasonal coffee kiosk in the ferry waiting room. There are some B&Bs close to the route, or you could try to arrange pick up and/or drop off from Barra's capital, Castlebay.
After crossing the ferry, the second stage begins on the small island of Eriskay, which has a shop, bed and breakfast accommodation and a pub. A cafe is passed after the route leads onto South Uist, a campsite, and then an inn at Polochar. There is nothing right at the end of the stage, but Daliburgh (Dalabrog in Gaelic) is a short detour away and has a good shop, hotel and guest house.
The following stage ends at Howmore which has only a simple hostel and no other facilities; the stage is short and could be extended, or you could arrange an accommodation provider to pick you up and drop you off here.
Stage 4 leads onto Benbecula and ends at Liniclate, which has a hotel and some guest houses; there is also a supermarket en route, soon after arriving on Benbecula.
The fifth stage ends after the route has arrived on North Uist. There is a campsite - with pods available for those not staying in a tent - by the route, or you could arrange pickup, perhaps from nearby Carinish.
The following stage ends on the edge of Lochmaddy, and is 1km from the centre of this, the island capital, which has a shop, hotel and other accommodation.
The seventh stage ends at the ferry terminal immediately after reaching Berneray - you could either detour to the hostel, shop, cafe and/or guest houses on the island, or cross the ferry to Leverburgh - the start of the next stage - which has a shop as well as more accommodation, and a seasonal food van.
Seilebost has no facilities en route, although a guest house is reachable with a detour. The alternative is to arrange pick up and drop off, perhaps from the same accommodation you used in Leverburgh.
Stage 9 passes the (seasonal) Bays Centre Cafe part way through, and ends at Tarbet, the capital of Harris. This has a local grocery shop, cafe, hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation.
Stock up in Tarbet, as stage 10 ends at the tiny hamlet of Scaladal. There is a guest house here, and hostel accommodation at the Scaladale centre.
Stage 11 ends in Balallan, a long settlement strung out along the road. There's a seasonal cafe in the village hall, and bed and breakfast accommodation nearby.
The route ends at Stornoway which is by far the largest settlement in the Western Isles - it has all shops and services, though note most are closed on Sundays.
There are 80 Walkhighlanders who have completed the Hebridean Way. To record if you have completed the route, you must register and be logged in. Our users have contributed 5 public walk reports for the route. These are ordered below with the most popular ones first.
|Inspirational Islands, sometimes wearisome walk||Stephcart||25/05/2022||20|
|The Hebridean Way Part 1||Guinessman||24/08/2017||10|
|Hebridean Way part 2||Guinessman||05/09/2017||8|
|The Hebridean Way||Knipperdolling07||12/04/2017||4|
|Grimsay to Eriskay on the Hebridean Way||LaurenAlexandraAgain||04/06/2019||2|