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Issue 84 - Destination of the Year

Scotland Magazine Issue 84
December 2015

 

This article is 25 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Destination of the Year

Scottish Hebrides

Scotland Magazine's chosen Destination of the Year for 2015 is the Scottish Hebrides. In each edition this year we are featuring one or more of the jewels of this magical 130 mile archipelago of west coast islands.

Steeped in history from the Mesolithic age, and subject to a clash of Pictish, Celtic, Gaelic and Norse cultures, these fiercely individual havens of tranquillity are divided into the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the former embracing Islay and Jura and Colonsay, Mull, Skye and the Small Isles; the latter incorporating Benbecula, Barra, Harris and Lewis and the Uists.

Dominated for generations by the all powerful Lords of the Isles, these islands set in a restless silver sea under a big sky continue to capture the imagination of writers, painters and poets alike.

Harris
Harris is one of the most beautiful islands in the Outer Hebrides and boasts some of Scotland's most spectacular, unspoiled beaches such as at Luskentyre, Hushinish and Traigh Lar. Harris is divided into North and South by a narrow isthmus. The main community is at Tarbert which has a car ferry terminal.

Lewis
The wild mountains of North Harris line up on the southern aspect of Loch Seaforth as the causeway joins Harris with Lewis, the largest and most northerly island in the Outer Hebrides chain. As you journey from one to the other, you cannot fail to notice the contrast as you enter into the rolling expanse of moors and lochans of Lewis.

For centuries, the principal industries have been fishing and Harris Tweed, which is exported globally. The island's population centres on Stornoway, home of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Western Isles Council. Built by the Mathesons, the neo-gothic Lews Castle at Stornoway is in the process of being transformed into a museum and hotel.

WHERE TO STAY

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle
Harris HS3 3AS
Exclusive use or individual rooms for guests, with sporting facilities available.
Tel: +44 (0) 1859 560 200
www.amhuinnsuidhe.com

Hotel Hebrides
Pier Road, Tarbert HS3 3DG
Boutique hotel run by Angus and Chirsty Macleod.
Tel: +44 (0) 1859 502 364
www.hotel-hebrides.com

Harris Hotel
Scott Road, Tarbert HS3 3DL
Family owned and run for over 100 years.
Tel: +44 (0) 1859 502 154
www.harrishotel.com

Cabarfedh Hotel
Manor Park, Perceval Road,
Stornoway HS1 2EU
Central yet quiet Stornoway location. Friendly staff.
Tel: +44 (0) 1851 702 604
www.caberfeidh-hotel.co.uk

?Borve Country House Hotel
Borve HS2 0RX
Nine luxurious bedrooms and cosy individual chalets.
Tel: +44 (0) 1851 850 223
www.borvehousehotel.co.uk

HOW TO GET THERE

By Road
From the Scottish mainland, there are three car options:
Drive to Ullapool and take the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Stornoway.
Drive to Mallaig and take the ferry to Skye; drive further north to Kyle of Lochalsh or cross to Skye via the Skye Bridge to Kyelakin, then drive to the port of Uig to catch the ferry to Tarbert.
Take the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye (30 minutes), from where you can drive north to catch the ferry at Uig (90 minutes).

Ferries
Caledonian MacBrayne operate ferry services to the islands: Ullapool to Stornoway on Lewis.
Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris.
Berneray (North Uist) to Leverburgh on Harris.
Tel: +44 (0) 8705 6500 000 or Stornoway office + 44 (0) 1851 702 361

Fly
There are daily flights to Stornoway from Glasgow and Edinburgh, Monday to Saturday, and a Sunday flight from Glasgow (Flybe operated by Loganair). Eastern Airways operate one daily flight from Aberdeen , Monday to Friday.

PLACES TO VISIT

Gearannan Black House Village
5A Garenin, Lewis HS2 9AL
Self-catering holiday accommodation close to Callanish. The living museum here is open to the public.
Tel: +44 (0) 1851 643 416
www.gearannan.com

Seallam! Visitor Centre
An Taobh Tuath, Northton, Harris HS3 3JA
Exhibitions on family history of the Hebrides.
Tel: +44 (0) 1859 520 258
www.hebridespeople.com

Mausoleum of the MacLeods
Rodel, South Harris HS5 3TW
St Clement's Church, built by Chief of Clan Macleod of Dunvegan and Harris in 15th Century - Historic Scotland.
www.historic-scotland.gov.uk

Kinloch Museum
Laxay, Lochs, Lewis HS2 9LA
Changing local history exhibitions.
Tel: +44 (0) 1851 830 359

Abhainn Dearg Distillery
Carnish, Uig, Lewis HS2 9EX
The first legal single malt distillery in the Outer Hebrides since 1829. Open to visitors.
Tel: +44 (0) 1851 672 429.
www.abhainndearg.co.uk

Old School Tearoom
Balallan, Lewis
Intriguing local exhibitions with café. Open by arrangement.
Tel: +44 (0) 1851 830 778

Calanais Visitor Centre
Callanish HS2 9DY
Iconic circles of prehistoric standing stones. Inspirational and thought provoking.
Tel: +44 (0) 1851 621 422
www.callanishvisitorcentre.co.uk

Isle of Harris Distillery
Callanish HS2 9DY
The Isle of Harris recently celebrated the opening of its very own distillery. Nestled in the charming coastal village of Tarbert, an open door welcomes guests on every day except the sabbath. Visitors are invited to warm themselves in front of its peat burning fire, take a tour and enjoy real island hospitality. Known as ‘The Social Distillery’, the goal at the heart of its creation was to enrich the community and help its economy thrive for decades to come by harnessing the island’s natural assets. Producing spirit affectionately called The Hearach (the Gaelic word for an inhabitant of Harris), mature single malt whisky will not be on sale for some years to come. In the meantime however, guests are able to enjoy a glass of Isle of Harris Gin, which is also produced at the distillery.
Open Monday - Saturday. Tours can be booked online or by phone.
Tel: +44 (0) 1859 502 212
www.harrisdistillery.com

WHAT'S ON

Hebridean Celtic Festival - Mid July
HebCelt - Intimate concerts in far flung communities around Lewis and Harris performed by a variety of local and international artists on the green.
Lews Castle, Stornoway HS1 2DS.
www.hebceltfest.com

Hebridean Cycle Challenge & Sponsored Cycle - June
Mountain bike race with option of running the off-road section. From Creed Enterprise Park outside
Stornoway to Mavaig in North Harris, to Bowglas and Scaladale Centre, Ardvourlie, North Harris.
www.hebrideancyclechallenge.co.uk