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Outer Hebrides (Scotland)

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The Outer Hebrides, (Scottish Gaelic: Innse Gall) comprise an island chain off the west coast of Scotland. They form part of the Hebrides, separated from the Scottish mainland and from the Inner Hebrides by the stormy stretch of water known as the Minch and the Little Minch. Most communities in the Outer Hebrides use the Scottish Gaelic language. The name for the UK Parliament constituency covering this area is Na h-Eileanan an Iar, whilst the Scottish Parliament constituency for the area continues to be officially known as Western Isles although it is almost always written as Western Isles (Eilean Siar). The islands were known as Suðreyjar ("Southern Islands"; cf. Suðrland) under Norwegian rule for about 200 years until sovereignty was transferred to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth in 1266, which followed the Battle of Largs three years earlier. Colloquially they are sometimes referred to collectively as An t-Eilean Fada or "The Long Island"; Na h-Eileanan a-Muigh (the Outer Isles) is also heard occasionally in Scottish Gaelic.

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      26.05.2008 11:02

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      A wonderfully romantic setting

      We went to the out hebrides for our honeymoon in 2005. We drove to Inverness, stayed the night there, onto to Skye and then Harris up through to Lewis. What a long trip but what a stunning journey. The landscape is unbelievable. Rugged yet gentle with the sweeping clouds through the spiky mountains. The roads are like something out of a film, twisting and turning with a new view at ever turn. We stayed at Gearrannan Blackhouses which are traditional blackhouses which have been converted into tourist cottages and a youth hostel. Leave your car at the car park and then walk down to your cottage where there is underfloor heating and everything else you need. TV, fully ecquipped kitchen and atmosphere. OUt of our lounge window we had a wonderful view of the sea crashing against the rocks on the cove the cottages are situated on. This is truly a romantic getaway and at 200 pounds for a week, we couldn't have asked for better value for money. There are ancient standing stones to visit not far away and ofcourse an abundance of exhilerating walks along the coast or inland.

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      07.05.2007 20:12
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      Go see

      A unforgettable place which is like beauty and the beast. Once you have been you would never forget the expansive clean beaches, the remote moors and the loneliness of the place. But there is a twist and one which alters your perception altogether.

      Only ever holiday there, as a tourist you will be treated like royality, everyone will speak to you and make your stay pleasant.

      Never move to live there, no matter how many times you have been on holiday there you will never be accepted, your status will be incomer. In the local paper there was an obituary for a man who had lived there since he was a young boy. It read "Though he was a stranger in our midst...." He was in his eighties when he died. It can be an evil place which is such a shame as it is wonderful.

      The Isle Of Lewis is the one I know well, having only one town to the east of the island the rest is remote. You have to cross the moors to get to most of it. But it is worth the journey. Along the west coast there are beaches which are miles long and marvellously clean. Nothing at all to compare in the UK, or anywhere else I have been.

      There is the Port of Ness, obviously a small port, but again another beautiful beach, walk along to the Lighthouse from which you can see for miles. Uig has the best beach you cannot see the sea from the sand the sea is warm enough to paddle all day. Valto & Reef are both beautiful if a little dangerous with undercurrents. Best camping areas though.

      Travel inwards and it is all moors and peat banks, a few rocky areas and lochs. All very remote and lonely. You can imagine Wuthering Heights being set there. Back out and towards the town you come to Stornoway.

      The main town is pretty and seaside like, it's where the ferry comes in and the tourists go to shop. However, if you are into shopping Lewis is not the place to go, its most famous shop is Woolworths, though if you look round you can find some nice local shops.

      Go out to the East and you come to almost a separate Island, it is joined by a very narrow strip of land by the airport.

      You can fly there internally and you can get the ferry which is a three hour journey or you can get a shorter ferry to Harris and drive through, though the time difference is neglible.

      I would recommend a visit to Lewis anytime, though summer is best as it tends to rain the rest of the time. Its wild in winter, with the winds whipping across the moors. I would never recommend anyone moves there unless you are a hermit.

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        03.05.2007 19:02
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        come and see for yourself

        Innse Gall, Nah-Eileanan an Iar, the Long Island, whatever you call them, the name always conjures up images of pure wilderness, wild hairy Vikings running up and down the peaty moorland and the inevitable rain. Well it is that and so much more.

        As it is the last inhabited post between the UK and America, the islands are subject to extremes of both weather and isolation. It acts as a shelterbelt for the West coast of Scotland, prtecting it from the worst of the gales and the seas, and in that fact lies the islands vunerability.

        They are totally dependant on the ferry and air services for the tourism which provides the islands with one of their main sources of income and food and basic life essentials, which are subject to the weather and sea conditions.

        The islands have a strong reputation for both academics and the high schools produce an large amount of well educated students, many of whom go on to higher education. They also have a strong reputation in the merchant navy and are renowned as seafarers.

        Many of the furthest outposts of the British Empire owe their success to the intrepid islanders who were thrown of their land to make way for sheep and who went out and explored and colonised Canada, Australia and all other manner of countries.

        This has led to a rich tapestry of history which can be seen from the Butt of Lewis to Barra Head. There are ruins of old blackhouses and brochs dotted all around the landscape, numerous standing stones and even the lewis Chessmen which were voted as one of the 10 most important archeological finds in the UK.

        The landscape of the islands is as varying as it is in the mainland, from the flat and boggy Isle of Lewis to the mountainous Harris and the lochy Uists. The colours of the heather are wild and vivid in the summer and dark and sombre in the winter months, the long white and unspoiled beaches and huge surf breaks are a surfers paradise and thanks to the Gulf Stream the waters around the islands are pleasantly warm.

        To fully experience the islands you must come and visit them yourself. Fly in to Barra and travel north exploring the islands as you go.

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