An escape to untouched lands, mythical tales, timelessness, breathtaking landscapes will struggle to describe my almost undescribable enigmatic adventure in the Outer Hebrides. A land far far away, the Outer Hebrides are a chain of small islands located off the northwest coast of Scotland. Tourism is popular on the the main few islands (out of more than hundred in the area) however for me this was surely a definition for an unusual destination and discovering those unknown magic lands went far beyond any expectations.
To make the trip even more adventurous we hired a campervan which really is the best way to explore the area. Before reaching our lovely, super power camper we probably changed about 5 means of transportations from London including taxis, trains, busses , plane, ferry but I can assure you it was so worth it. We landed in Aberdeen and then right onto the train to Nairn where we picked up our van. Getting off the train in Nairn I noticed no one has locked their bikes on the station and I knew I am in a totally different universe already! And this was still mainland!
Supplied with everything we needed in the van (fairy lights, flowers, and decorative rugs amongst it all) we headed west to Ullapool. It was mid-May and the road was running through lush green grass and yellow gorse sceneries. From rocky Ullapool we got on a ferry to Stornoway where actually our island adventure was about to begin.
Stornoway is located on the Isle of Lewis and it is the biggest town in the Outer Hebrides. A quiet surreal harbour town, full of local charm, where only the rocking boats and the seagulls are breaking the so indulgent silence.
It was getting dark already and we headed west in the search for place to park for the night. Wild camping is completely safe everywhere around here but don’t leave it until dark. We did unfortunately, however not knowing where we were the night before turned into a beautiful idyllic scenery surprise in the morning – lavish green hills, surrounding small lakes and few fluffy careless sheeps to keep us company for the morning coffee. We were lucky to get a glimpse of sunshine this day, but it was still May and it was north of Scotland so warm clothing and water & wind proofing was a must.
Continuing west we headed to the Calanais Standing Stones. The complex is truly magnificent and consists of 50 stones dating from around 2500 B.C.! The main inner circle consists of 13 stones, some reaching 3 meters height. The purpose behind them of course is a mystery, but the main belief is that these were used for rituals relating to the sky and the stars. One thing for sure, there was definitely something surreal and mythical in the air here.
Leaving the mythics of the Bronze age behind, we headed south to Isle of Harris in a quest for the crystal blue waters and the sandy beaches. Surprising as it sounds, but yes, they do exist in Scotland. The change in scenery was dramatic – from the moorlands, the lunar-like rocky hills and the wild cliffs to these tropical-like coasts. If you ignore the wind, the rain and the the very few degree above freezing, you might get seriously confused where on Earth you are!
Ambitious to see as much as we can for 4 days next we took a ferry heading to Uist – a long and narrow sieve-like island south of Harris. The surroundings here have their own character – marsh fields, small lochs, narrow roads winding through glittering water and all the tranquility you could possibly think of.
From there we headed to Skye – probably one of the most famous Scottish islands and a very popular destination for outdoor sports. Unfortunately we had just a day to travel around the island but it still gave us a good taste of its beautiful landscape. Here the scenery is a bit more dramatic – the hills are higher, the cliffs are steeper, the grass is greener. We took the road south along the west coast and the views around us were incredible – snowy peaks and tiny waterfalls nestling in between them on one side and lush green meadows on the other.
Crossing the bridge between Kyleakin and Kyle we reached the mainland once again. Although in a hurry, stopping on the other side of the bridge to wave beautiful Skye a final ‘Goodbye’ was inevitable.
Our journey through the Highlands back north to Narin was not missing some more majestic sceneries.
Calm lochs, lush green forests, iconic castles, historic bridges – all made this journey into (not any more) Scottish unknown purely unforgettable.