Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Isle of Harris

Case by Case – Moving to the Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides Relocation Services (OHRS) was started by islanders Angela and David earlier in 2016. I managed to catch up with Angela and David and ask them about why they started their relocation business and what they hoped to achieve in the future.

Angela explained that the idea for the business originated through discussions with various people that had previously moved to the Outer Hebrides and who wished they had discovered it sooner. Both Angela and David have a wealth of local knowledge and are advocates for island life. They both have a background in economic and community development, sales and administration.

The Outer Hebrides Relocation Service offer a unique service to all their clients and realise that everyone’s relocation needs vary. Therefore they offer packages tailor-made to suit individuals; families and businesses; all looking for a smooth relocation to the Outer Hebrides. The time taken to fully relocate can depend on a number of variables, such as school term time for families and the legal process.

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Horgabost Beach

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Horgabost Beach

David believes that people want to move to the Outer Hebrides for a variety of reasons. In particular, families enjoy the safe and natural environment in which to bring up their children; professionals can have the best of both worlds as good communication links allow the freedom to work remotely with good transport links making the mainland accessible. The Outer Hebrides is also a natural retreat for those who have retired and want to enjoy a new way of life.

I asked Angela what she thought inspired people to relocate to the Outer Hebrides.  Angela said, "The Outer Hebrides are a natural and safe environment with a friendly and welcoming people. The beaches are breathtakingly beautiful and unspoilt, very often you will have the whole beach to yourself. The islands are steeped in a rich culture and heritage and this is visible with its monuments and archaeological sites, such as the world renowned Calanais Standing Stones in the Isle of Lewis".

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Lews Castle

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Lews Castle

I then asked David what were the best and worst things about living on a remote island. He replied, "The best things about living in the Outer Hebrides has to be the feeling of freedom and space and endless big skies, sunrises and spectacular sunsets. Sometimes the weather can be a challenge when living on an island, in particular if there are any ferry alterations due to weather related disruptions".

David elaborated by mentioning about the increase in tourists to the Outer Hebrides. "There has definitely been a rise in tourist numbers visiting the islands, which is a result of the recent documentary programmes which showcased the beauty of the islands and its inhabitants. Some additional visitors may also have come as a result of the introduction of the Scottish Governments Road Equivalent Tariff, which subsidises travel costs to and from the island. This year with positive currency fluctuations, UK destinations may be desirable to foreign visitors".

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Isle of Harris

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Isle of Harris

i asked Angela if she and David had visited any other islands apart from Harris and Lewis. Angela replied that, "We have visited a number of other islands and have found that each are different in their own way but similar in their welcome and magical attractions. We enjoyed the rugged environment in Skye with its mountain ranges and miles of dramatic coastline. However, we remain steadfast in our favorite being the uninhabited island of St Kilda".

Finally, I asked David where he see's the business in 5 – 10 years’ time. He said, "Our hope is that we will have helped loads of people to have successfully relocated to the Outer Hebrides; doing our bit to address rural depopulation. Additionally we would like to own a second property which is available for our clients to use while they carry out their viewings.

For more information about Outer Hebrides Relocation Services and the service they can offer please visit them at www.ohrs.co.uk or on their Facebook page. Alternatively you can email them at lettings10@gmail.com.

All images courtesy of Angela at Outer Hebrides Relocation Services.

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Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Angela

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Angela

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Dave

Outer Hebrides Relocation Service - Dave

Kisimul Castle, Barra

Castlebay – Memories of my first Hebridean holiday

The first time I visited Castlebay on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, was in 2003.  I had visited a few of the Inner Hebrides (Mull, Iona, Arran, Bute etc) previously, but had never been further afield than these islands. Below are embellished notes from a Diary that I wrote of my trip to Barra. It is interesting for me, to show how chronically under-prepared I was when I visited.  Firstly, I visited out of season, so most of the tourist attractions were shut. Secondly, I did not do any research about where to eat, where to drink, how to get around etc.  It was the mistakes that I made going to Barra, that prompted me to be more prepared for every subsequent trip to the Scottish Islands.  If you have not read it already I have completed a 5000 word article – Scottish islands on a Budget that details some of things you should take into consideration whilst planning your trip.

Isle of Barra - Tangasdale Beach

Isle of Barra – Tangasdale Beach

 

Although I have been on long journeys before, the 8 hours (with delays) that it took me to reach Oban felt like an eternity. I had decided to travel by train and although the scenery was pretty spectacular on the way there, as soon as it got dark, time seemed to take that little bit longer.  Eventually, I reached my Guest House in the heart of Oban and tired and exhausted, retired for an early night.

 

After a hearty breakfast, I sauntered down to the Harbour Front to survey my options. The choices were few and far between. Take a tour, see the seals, visit the sealife sanctuary. These were just a few of the things to do in and around Oban. Still undecided, I waited for the Tourist Information Office, which is housed in a beautifully converted church, to open. I gave the friendly Advisor my options and asked for his advice. His reply was short, but to the point, “You can’t do any. They are all shut”.

 

What I failed to mention is that I am in Oban, out of season. March to be precise. I had naively hoped that there may be someone able to provide a trip for an independent traveller. Contemplating this, I went to sit by the Ferry Terminal, hoping some jolly captain would see my plight and take pity on me and then take me on an amazing journey to some unknown utopian island. After an hour, I was still sat there.

 

I decided to go for a walk around the Harbour where I noticed a sign advertising a trip to a a Seal Colony, near the island of Kerrera.  I dutifully paid the small fee and boarded the wooden boat.  After about 20 minutes of beautiful scenery, we slowly pulled up beside a rocky promontory known as Seal Island. I looked carefully and saw a few seals bobbing around and generally being slovenly.

Oban - Centre of transport links to the west coast of Scotland

Oban – Centre of transport links to the west coast of Scotland

 

Once I had finished the seal island tour I had a radical idea. I had been perusing the timetable carefully, until I could recite it word for word and I noticed that there was a Ferry to Castlebay on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. Feeling rather pleased with myself, I seized the moment and booked a single ticket from the Ticket Office. After reading about Barra in the Tourist Information Centre, I learned that Barra is the only airport in the world where the plane takes off and lands on the beach. This would be a great adventure I thought.

 

Excitedly, I boarded the Ferry and then set off into the unknown. The Ferry glided effortlessly through the calm water. I sat on the deck for a while soaking up the last of the suns rays. We carried on through the Sound of Mull, where on both sides, there was spectacular coastline.  I mainly looked towards the left hand side towards the imposing Isle of Mull. The island had a rocky profile and was punctuated with the odd, isolated house. Then, as if by magic, the colourful town of Tobermory came into view.  A rioutous rainblow of coloured houses hugged the Harbour and gave the town a slightly Mediterranean feel.

 

After making it through the Sound of Mull, I was able to make out the profile of the Isle of Coll, although by this time it was becoming darker and difficult to see. As we journeyed out into the open sea, the Ferry suddenly started to roll slightly, which took a little bit of getting used to. A few hours later. we docked at Castlebay and I must admit to being pleased to being back on dry land.  I knew that my accommodation was only a couple of minutes away from the slipway. I looked at all the buildings but they all looked the same. However, I knew that if I set off walking, I would eventually find it. How big can Castlebay be?

 

After a decent nights sleep, I awoke to the soothing sound of gentle waves lapping outside my window. I ate a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and tomatoes and then walked down to the Post Office to get a bus timetable.  The next bus to the airport was later in the morning, so I waited outside and admired the view down to the slipway. It was piercingly cold and extremely windy but there was a clear, vibrant blue sky. The Postbus drew up and my fellow passengers and I boarded the bus in an orderly fashion. The bus wound its way along the islands eastern postal route. Every 10 minutes or so, the driver would stop the bus, empty a post box and a passenger would depart.

 

By the time we reached the Airport, I was the last passenger. I asked the Postman how much l owed and left the bus. The Airport was the only building for about a mile. It was at the end of a Cockleshell beach. The tide was out, so I thought there may be a chance of a plane coming in to land. No such luck. I enquired at the Reception Desk, to see if I could book a single flight to Glasgow. “No problem” said the helpful lady. I handed over my money and received my ticket.

Isle of Barra - Beach Airport

Isle of Barra – Beach Airport

 

I quickly made my way outside and waited for the Postbus as it was due back in around 5 mins. The bus duly arrived and we set off back to Castlebay. This time the driver took the western route around the island. The only major village we passed was called Borve. It was a small settlement of evenly-spaced out houses. There were two excellent sandy beaches nearby that would be a delight to visit in summer. The bus then wound its way inland and back to Castlebay. I departed and headed back to my B & B.

 

The following day I spoke to the owner of the B & B and arranged to stay for an extra day. The weather was still overcast, so I decided to wait until the afternoon to go out. After lunch, I heard a knock at the door. It was the owner. She explained that her daughter was due back on the plane from Glasgow, but that she had just rung to say that the plane had been cancelled due to bad weather. She elaborated by saying that there was also no ferry today and I would need to catch the new flight, which was tomorrow. I thanked her for letting me know and asked if I could stay another day. Luckily it was quiet in the B & B.  I stayed in my room and continued watching TV.  I did not have a guide book with me and the only information I had to hand was a leaflet from the Tourist Information Office.

 

In the early evening, I walked to the local hotel to ask for a table for my evening meal. The Bar person escorted me to a table where I enjoyed a succulent breaded haddock and chips, with quartered carrots and mange tout. I washed this down with a bottle of mineral water.  At the far side of the bar was a Pool table. I had a quick game, paid for my meal and then headed back to the B & B.

 

On the day of my departure, I headed down to the harbour front to take some pictures. I then boarded the Postbus and set off for the Airport. I was the only passenger.  I arrived at the Airport and checked in. I then checked out the small aircraft that would be my home for the next hour or so. Time moved on and it was time to board the aircraft. I showed my boarding pass and stepped onto the plane.

 

There were only 16 seats and once everyone was seated, the Air Hostess read out the safety instructions. The engines started up and the plane shot forward across the sand and took off swiftly. The plane climbed gradually until it was above the clouds.

Castlebay - Kisimul Castle

Castlebay – Kisimul Castle

 

I felt that I had not made the most of the trip to Barra and this spurred me on to make the most of the time I have on every island.  It also gave me an incentive to return, which I have been able to do. I did not visit the Isle of Vatersay or travel north to see the rest of the Outer Hebrides.  Again, this was an opportunity missed.  I did not even visit Kisimul Castle as it was out of season.  However, I feel that I had to go through this to be as prepared as I am now.

This is not to show that you should not visit out of season. It is to make sure that you make each moment that you are there count. You may never get the chance to go back.

Lee

Harris - St Clement's Church

Travelling around the Outer Hebrides in Winter

Travelling around the Outer Hebrides in Winter is obviously a lot different to travelling there in the Summer. For anyone considering this, I would (loosely) suggest the following itinerary, starting from Barra and travelling from south to north. I know it is good, because I did some of it two years ago!  Because you are travelling out of season, most of the main attractions would not be open (they tend to open in the first week of April). Below are attractions that are open out of season or are free to visit because they are in the open.

Day 1 – half day walking tour of the Isle of Vatersay. A beautiful circuit of the southern half of Vatersay, taking in lovely beaches, colourful machair, iron-age fort and standing stone, and the remains of a land raiders village. Half a day walking up Ben Heaval overlooking Castlebay on the Isle of Barra. Halfway up the side is “Our Lady of the Sea”, a white marble statue of the Madonna and Child. Alternatively, a visit to see the famous beach runway, to watch planes take off/land on the beach.

Day 2 – travel by ferry to the Isle of Eriskay. Cross the beach where Bonnie Prince Charlie first arrived in Scotland, explore the main village made famous by Whisky Galore and then climb via a hill loch for great views over Eriskay. Visit the Am Politician pub and if you ask nicely they will let you hold one of the whisky bottles from the SS Politician. Then travel to the Isle of South Uist (possibly visiting Kildonan Museum – visits are sometimes possible out of season). Alternatively, visiting Flora McDonalds monument, the statue of ‘Our lady of the Isles’ and The Cladh Hallan Roundhouses, which are the only place in the UK where prehistoric mummies have been found.

 

Outer Hebrides in winter - Our Lady of the Isles

Outer Hebrides in winter – Our Lady of the Isles

 

Day 3 – Isle of South Uist. Travel to the village of Howmore, passing Ormacleit Castle on the way. Howmore has a remarkable collection of ruined churches and Chapels as well as some good examples of thatched houses and blackhouses.. The most striking religious remains are of the Teampull Mor the “Large Church” or St Mary’s, of which only part of the east gable remains. This church dates back to around the 13th century. From Howmore travel to Loch Skipport to see the old pier and fantastic views out to sea. Then visit Hebridean Jewellery, who are manufacturers of sterling silver and gold jewellery from the Pictish and Celtic periods through to the modern era. They also have a lovely cafe with excellent views.

Day 4 – From South Uist, travel on the scenic road around the coast of the Isle of Benbecula and then travel up to the Isle of North Uist. If the weather is kind, I would also visit Baleshare Beach on the Isle of Baleshare, which is attached to North Uist via a causeway. Onto North Uist next and a visit to Barpa Langass, a 5,000-year-old burial chamber thought to be the burial place of a Neolithic chieftain. Then visit the ruins of Trinity Temple at Carnish, which is thought to be Scotland’s oldest University. There is also the chance for a spot of Otter watching, as the east side of the island is a landscape of inland and sea lochs, inlets bays and channels. This would obviously take patience and a bit of luck!  In the afternoon, travel via causeway to the Isle of Berneray to visit Giant Macaskill’s monument. He was one of the world’s tallest men. Near here is West Beach, possibly the finest beach in the whole of the Outer Hebrides (and there is a lot of competition)!

Day 5 – travel to the Isle of Harris and visit 16th century St Clements Church at Rodel. From here visit the magnificent beaches that the island is famous for such as Luskentyre, Seilebost, Horgabost and Borve. Next visit Seallam! Visitor Centre. The Centre has a changing series of exhibitions on various facets of local life and history and is open all year round. Alternatives include a walk to the North Harris Eagle observatory which provides one of the best opportunities in Scotland for viewing this iconic species or a scenic trip around the peaceful Isle of Scalpay.

 

Outer Hebrides in winter - St Clement's Church

Outer Hebrides in winter – St Clement’s Church

 

Day 6 and 7 – travel from Harris to the Isle of Great Bernera, Visit Bosta Iron Age House next to Bosta Beach. The original houses date from 400 – 800 AD and you can visit one of the reconstructed houses. From here, visit the Gearannan Blackhouse Village (Museum may not be open – but you can walk around the blackhouses and down to the coast). Nearby is Carloway Broch, one of the best preserved Broch’s in Scotland. An absolute must is a visit to the Callanais Standing Stones. The Calanais Visitor Centre contains an interactive Story of the Stones exhibition, which explores how the standing stones were built and used and what they have meant to people through the centuries. Other possible attractions to visit include Arnol Black House, a traditional Lewis thatched house that is fully furnished, complete with an attached barn, byre and stackyard and the Butt of Lewis, which is the most northerly point of the Isle of Lewis and therefore the Outer Hebrides. Also, a visit to the historical town of Stornoway, which is the biggest town in the Outer Hebrides.

As you can see, even out of season, there are plenty of things to do around the Outer Hebrides in winter (or indeed any of the other island groups). It just takes a little bit of planning and a little bit of luck with the weather.

I hope to see you there!

3D modelling of the MV Glen Etive for the Majestic Line.

Small ship cruising with The Majestic Line

There can be few greater journeys in life than travelling around the Scottish islands by boat.  There are several cruise companies that can offer this luxury and one of the best Scottish small ship cruise specialists, The Majestic Line, has commissioned a new purpose built boat for the 2016 season adding new and more distant itineraries.  The MV Glen Etive will complement the two existing refurbished traditional fishing boats, which offer unique cruises around Scotland’s west coasts and islands. The new vessel is currently being built by Ardmaleish Boatbuilding Co. Ltd on the Clyde, with funding assistance from Highland and Islands Enterprise. Cruising with the Majestic Line has never been more luxurious.

The boat will be finished in traditional wood and brass, with spacious accommodation and a steel based hull, the new boat will undertake longer cruises and visit new Outer Hebridean destinations, with trips planned as far afield as St Kilda.  Small ship cruising with The Majestic Line blends the adventure of discovering some of the most inaccessible and beautiful areas of Scotland’s idyllic western isles, with the intimacy of a house party.  The concept has proved increasingly popular with visitors from the UK to Australia, with cruises booking well in advance and a high level of repeat business.

Cruising with the Majestic Line - 3D modelling of the MV Glen Etive for the Majestic Line.

3D modelling of the MV Glen Etive for the Majestic Line.

When the MV Glen Etive launches in April 2016 it will add valuable additional capacity to meet demand.  All three vessels are fitted out to a high standard and the on board cuisine, using locally sourced produce, is presented as an informal fine dining experience. Offering three, six, and ten night cruises, as well as private whole boat charters, The Majestic Line takes passengers to the heart of Scotland’s remote islands. Existing boats can accommodate eleven passengers in en-suite cabins and the MV Glen Etive will add an additional berth, with all three offering two cabins for single occupancy at no additional supplement.

Andy Thoms, managing director of The Majestic Line, comments: “The Majestic Line cruises take guests on a personal tour of Scotland’s loveliest hideaway places. The locally built MV Glen Etive, with the look and feel of a 1930’s ‘gentleman’s motor yacht’, will bring an additional choice of longer destinations to far flung places such as the St Kilda world heritage site. It is the comfort of our ships, the level of service and the opportunity to travel in style that brings guests back time and again to experience such unique and special adventures.”

David Smart, senior development manager with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said:  “The Majestic Line has demonstrated an ability to create and develop a unique tourism offering for the west coast of Scotland. Sustainable tourism and the marine environment are both valued by HIE and we are delighted to invest in this new vessel which will lead to increased economic benefits for rural islands and mainland communities.”

Cruise itineraries range from the Small Isles and Skye, visiting Eigg, Rum and Canna, to St Kilda and the Outer Hebrides, taking in the Shiant Islands and the Isles of North and South Uist. A number of special interest cruises are also available, including a Wildlife Explorer Cruise which offers the chance to explore the Isle of Mull.

Cruising with the Majestic Line - MV Glen Etive moored alongside MV Glen Massan and MV Glen Tarsan Artist Impression.

MV Glen Etive moored alongside MV Glen Massan and MV Glen Tarsan. Artist Impression

The majority of cruises depart from Oban, Argyll, with transfers available from Glasgow at an additional cost.  For more information on the cruises that the Majestic Line offer – please visit their website.

 

Scottish Island Museums

There are many excellent Scottish Island Museums.  Whenever I visit the islands, I always head for the nearest Museum to find out about the history of the island. Here are just a small selection of my favourites:

 

Easdale Folk Museum – located on the tiny island of Easdale, one of the Slate islands, near Oban on the west coast of Scotland.  This is my favourite Museum, although it is probably the smallest Museum I have visited.  It may be small in stature, but it more than makes up for it with the artefacts on display and the incredibly friendly and knowledgeable staff. There are some excellent relics from slate quarrying and some fascinating stories and information detailing this dangerous occupation. This Museum is especially good if you bring the kids as there is a Treasure Hunt for them to complete. My kids loved it!

 

Easdale Folk Museum

Easdale Folk Museum

 

Fetlar Interpretive Centre – again quite a small Museum, the Interpretive Centre is in the village of Houbie on the beautiful Shetland island of Fetlar. The Museum includes a Steatite Bowl found during a Time Team dig in 2002. It is the largest single object ever excavated by the Time Team, and probably the largest bowl of its kind in the country. Also, there is video footage from nearby Brough Lodge.  I sat and watched these videos for quite a while as I had just visited Brough Lodge, before visiting the Museum. There is also interesting information on Sir William Watson Cheyne who lived at nearby Leogarth House.

Fetlar Interpretive Centre

Fetlar Interpretive Centre

 

Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum – this is possibly the largest Museum I have visited. The Visitors Centre tells the story of Scapa Flow and Lyness (mainly through the First and Second World Wars). There are excellent exhibits (such as mines and torpedoes as well as informative information boards) and a short film outlining the major role of Scapa Flow in both World Wars. I found the Museum to be fascinating and incredibly it was FREE! It´s a definite ´must see`on any visit to Orkney and Hoy in particular.

 

Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum

Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum

 

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village – located on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The Village was occupied until the early 1970s when the last few elderly residents moved to new accommodation. It is interesting to see how the people here once lived and also to watch traditional activities such as weaving Harris Tweed.  It is also possible to stay in the Village.  There is a wide range of accommodation, ranging from 2 star group accommodation sleeping 16, to 4 star family cottages.

 

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

 

Museum of Island Life – this Museum is very close to the northern-most coast of the Isle of Skye. It is located a few miles from the village of Uig, which is the main port on Skye for the Outer Hebrides. The Museum is in a very exposed position overlooking the Minch and was opened way back in 1965.  This Museum gives you an amazing insight into life on Skye and across the highlands in the 19th century. The Museum has seven thatched cottages, of which four are furnished and equipped as they would have been originally.

 

Skye - Museum of Island Life

 

Gaelic Heritage Centre – on the Isle of Lismore.  Slightly different to the other Museums I have visited. This ecologically friendly building was opened in 2007 and houses a Museum charting island life throughout the ages. There is also a special Genealogy section, where you can trace any relatives from Lismore. Although the Museum is quite small, there are some very interesting photo’s and documents that chart Lismore throughout the ages.  Next to the Heritage Centre is a fully restored 19th century ‘Cottars’ Cottage. There is also a fantastic cafe with fantastic views.

 

Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre

Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre

 

These Museums are my personal favourites, but there are many other Museums that I have visited over the years that deserve a mention.

Shetland – Tangwick Haa on mainland Shetland, Heritage Centre on Bressay, Unst Boat Haven and Unst Heritage Centre, Whalsay Heritage and Community Centre

Orkney – Orkney Museum and Skaill House on mainland Orkney, The Heritage Centre on Shapinsay, Holland House on Papa Westray and the Heritage Centre on Rousay

Outer Hebrides – Blackhouse Museum and Calanais Visitors Centre both on the Isle of Lewis

Inner Hebrides – Museum of Islay Life on Islay, Mull Museum on Mull, Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum on Tiree and The Boat House on Ulva

Skye and around – Dairy Shed Heritage Centre on Canna, Visitor Centre on Rum, Community Centre on Muck, Dunvegan Castle and the Aros Experience on Skye

 

Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum - Tiree
Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum - Tiree
Boat Haven - Unst
Boat Haven - Unst
Hanseatic Bod - Whalsay
Hanseatic Bod - Whalsay
Tangwick Haa - Mainland Shetland
Tangwick Haa - Mainland Shetland
Shapinsay Heritage Centre (The Smiddy) - Shapinsay
Shapinsay Heritage Centre (The Smiddy) - Shapinsay
Heritage Centre - Rousay
Heritage Centre - Rousay
Holland Farm and Bothy museum - Papa Westray
Holland Farm and Bothy museum - Papa Westray
Dunvegan Castle - Skye
Dunvegan Castle - Skye

 

Of course, there are many more Museums that I have yet to visit and some big one’s at that.  I still need to visit the New Shetland Museum and Archive and also I turned up an hour early for the Kildonan Museum on South Uist, so I still need to visit there as well.  Also, for some reason, I haven’t visited any Museums on Arran, Bute or Cumbrae, so I aim to remedy that in the near future. 

I always try to visit any Museums or Heritage Centre’s when I visit the islands.  They give a fascinating insight into the past (and sometimes the present) on the island.   I shall definitely keep on visiting as many Scottish Island Museum’s as I can, which gives me another reason to visit the beautiful islands of Scotland.  Not that I need another reason …

Kallin Harbour, Grimsay

Easily accessible – seldom visited islands

After my recent trip to the Outer Hebrides, it struck me that there are many islands that are easily accessible but seldom visited.

 

An example of this is Grimsay (near to North Uist). When looking for somewhere to stay around North Uist, I decided to see what accommodation was available on nearby Grimsay. To my delight, I found an excellent Bed and Breakfast (Shivinish) and booked myself in for the night.

Grimsay - view from bedroom window

Grimsay – view from bedroom window

 

When I got to Grimsay, I decided to investigate the island further. I drove down to Kallin Harbour and was fortunate enough to book myself onto a boat trip with Uist Boat Trips aboard the Lady Anne. The trip was around the uninhabited island of Ronay and lasted about 2 hours, during which I saw some amazing wildlife.

 

Grimsay  - Kallin Harbour

Grimsay – Kallin Harbour

 

After this excellent trip, I drove around the other side of the island to visit the other main settlement on Grimsay, called Bayview. This was another picturesque village, where I stopped to take some treasured pictures

 

I continued along the road, which is almost a full circle of the island. I then found my accommodation (which had absolutely stunning views) and relaxed for the evening.

 

This got me thinking that there are other easily accessible but seldom visited islands on the Outer Hebrides such as Vallay, Flodda, Baleshare, Great Bernera and Scalpay.

 

Baleshare - Houses after causeway

Baleshare – Houses after causeway

 

There are also the Burra isles in Shetland and nearer to the Scottish mainland are Seil, Luing, Easdale and Kerrera. These islands are either accessible by causeway, bridge or by a 5 minute ferry crossing. Yet, amazingly, these islands are often overlooked. I have been to all of them and I can honestly say they are all well worth visiting. I could have driven straight through Grimsay without stopping to give it a second glance. I am so glad that I didn’t. It is one of the nicest islands that I have visited.