"Gaeldom's Last Refuge" Top 5 Page for this destination Western Isles by RhineRoll

Western Isles Travel Guide: 144 reviews and 536 photos

The Western Isles are a very special place. They're also known as the Outer Hebrides, or, in their inhabitants' indigenous language, Eileanan Siar ("Western Isles"). Their other gaelic name, "Innse Gall" -- Isles of the Foreigners" points to a chapter in the archipelago's history as it refers to the Norwegian hold on the isles, manifesting itself in many place names.

The weather plays an important role in the appearance of the Western Isles. Believe me, if you pick a rainy day with low clouds and much reduced visibility, it is hardly imaginable that there'd be a more depressing place on earth. Nothing, absolutely nothing will please the eye. Therefore, make sure you have a good and comfortable accommodation in order to survive one of these days. As for Lewis, it's not such a bad idea to stay in Stornoway, as the Isles' Capital has many more (though still limited) opportunities to beat the clock on a rainy day than any other place in the Western Isles.

As other people here on VT have pointed out, be aware that Lewis/Harris is a deceptively large island. A drive from East to West, e.g. from Stornoway to Uig Sands is 33 miles (about 50 kms) and will take at least 45 minutes by car.

Please be also aware that most of the islanders have very deep religious beliefs and public life pretty much dies down on Sundays because of this. An exception to this are the islands of South Uist and Barra which are Roman Catholic and have a much more relaxed approach to keeping the Sabbath.

When the sun is shining, however, it is hard to escape the magic of the islands, and you'll inevitably fall in love with the place. Much of the Uists and Benbecula are fairly flat, so from slightly elevated sites you get wonderful open views across land and water towards the more mountainous areas of the isles. This creates an incredible feeling of space making you understand why during the last 2 centuries so many of the islanders clung to staying on their homeland, despite shockingly miserable living conditions.

  • Last visit to Western Isles: Jul 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (7)

Comments (17)

  • lichinga's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2006 at 5:55 AM

    Wonderful piece of land!

  • nebulaflash's Profile Photo
    Jan 19, 2006 at 10:32 AM

    What brooding pictures. The sky must be singing!

  • Nov 10, 2005 at 1:10 PM

    Wish I was going somewhere peaceful and relaxing like the Western Isles. Lovely page Win. Think I need to revisit Mull!

  • TomFoolery's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2005 at 2:30 AM

    Looks like a fascinating place, great pages.

  • vyxxyn's Profile Photo
    Jul 24, 2005 at 12:12 PM

    Bah! And I thought for a moment I missed this kind of sunset in the Hebrides of bonnie Scotland! So it was a filter eh. They should make spectacles tinted with this "tobacco colour graduated filter" to add some colour there.

  • Jul 6, 2005 at 6:31 PM

    ahhh another who has been to the western isles! they are just fantastic are they not? it is a beautiful area, even if freaking wet and cold most of the time!

  • Escadora7's Profile Photo
    Jul 3, 2005 at 1:55 PM

    Fascinating - would love to go and visit the Callanish Standing Stones. Nice photos! Best wishes, Ash & eve

  • SpagBoll's Profile Photo
    Jun 25, 2005 at 4:12 AM

    Great photo, and thanks for sharing the tip with the filter

  • KittyLou's Profile Photo
    May 11, 2005 at 1:01 PM

    Your photo of the Callanish Standing Stones is "brilliant. " Fantastic color contrast. Very artistic.

  • pepples46's Profile Photo
    Apr 28, 2005 at 1:19 PM

    amazing presentation


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