Going to Scottish islands - route advice please.

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#1
We are thinking of going to Skye, Lewis and Harris and maybe down the islands to return via Barra to Oban or vv in May. We hadn't considered stopping on Skye but now it seems a better thing to do after a long drive up from Herefordshire. So, maybe 5 or 6 nights on Skye, then ferry to L+H and stay there somewhere for the same length of time.

Any advice on accommodation, which way round you think better, the best places to stop over [ we really don't like moving on every other day] would be much appreciated - or whether it would be better to split it into two visits... Thanks.
 
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Jeremy Moore
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#2
Travel over to Skye via the ferry from Mallaig. Spend a night or two near Arisaig where you can look across beautiful white-sand beaches towards Skye and Eigg. I am convinced this has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. Parts of the movie Local Hero were filmed here.

The ferries are subsidised by the Scottish Govt. and not expensive. As I recall they are priced to be roughly equivalent to cost of the car journey by road (if there was one).

There is also a ferry between Glenelg and Kylerhea on Skye, near there there is a RSPB Sea eagle viewing hide with scopes etc..

I have done the circular route you are thinking of as well. Uig (Skye) > Tarbert (Harris), Leverburgh (Harris) > North Uist, South Uist > Oban. Berneray, linked to North Uist is well worth a visit although in my opinion the causeway has removed some of the earlier charm of the island.

Have a great trip!
 
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Lewis
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#3
When I did a similar trip I went to Lewis first, then Harris, then Bernerey, North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist (in a day) and on to Skye. I would have liked another day on Skye I think. It was a really good trip though.
 
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Peter
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#5
We are thinking of going to Skye, Lewis and Harris and maybe down the islands to return via Barra to Oban or vv in May. We hadn't considered stopping on Skye but now it seems a better thing to do after a long drive up from Herefordshire. So, maybe 5 or 6 nights on Skye, then ferry to L+H and stay there somewhere for the same length of time.

Any advice on accommodation, which way round you think better, the best places to stop over [ we really don't like moving on every other day] would be much appreciated - or whether it would be better to split it into two visits... Thanks.
I would take the Ferry from Uig on Skye to Harris, there's a couple of hotels in Tarbert (Isle of Harris). I've stayed in both of them. Uig is on the North West of Skye it is a "less" busy part of Skye the more popular parts of Skye can get very busy in the toursit season. Personally I would spend more time on Harris/Lewis than on Skye, not because its any less photogenic but it does get more visitors.
Tarbert is a reasonable centre to see both Harris and Lewis. If you don't fancy staying in hotels you should be able find both self catering places or bed and breakfast accommodation. Be aware though that Island accommodation can get booked up fairly quickly. I would choose to depart Lewis using the Stornoway to Ullapool ferry route as there's some great landscape opportunities in the Ullapool area. But it would add miles to your return home journey.
Uig is on the North West of Skye it is a "less" busy part of Skye the more popular parts of Skye can get very busy in the toursit season. Send me a message if you want any more information on places to stay.
 
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We went from Mallaig to Skye on the ferry. They had rooms that we could book for the night before sailing. Don't know if they still do those.
Then from Uig to Lochmaddy on Uist. Across to Tarbert on Harris. Worked our way North to Stornoway then back to Ullapool.

Calmac ferries are great, but you could drive over the bridge to Skye.
 
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Nightmare
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We went from Mallaig to Skye on the ferry. They had rooms that we could book for the night before sailing. Don't know if they still do those.
Then from Uig to Lochmaddy on Uist. Across to Tarbert on Harris. Worked our way North to Stornoway then back to Ullapool.

Calmac ferries are great, but you could drive over the bridge to Skye.
I would just guess it would be a lot a lot cheaper to drive and it is a great road to put your foot down. Probably the best in the UK.
 
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There is not a bad way of doing what your planning. Lewis, Harris and the Uist's along with the smaller islands all offer different scenery. Pick out what you want to do and see, that will determine your route. Cal Mac used to do an island hopper ferry fare which worked worked well, So explore that with them.
These days Skye, although beautiful and stunning is packed from dawn to dusk at the most popular areas. I mean packed, I went to the Quirang for a dawn photoshoot on my last visit, i arrived at 5.15 whilst still dark only to find dozens of campers and camper vans parked everywhere. It was as packed as Blackpool promenade. so factor that in as regards your length of stay if that bothers you.
As far as accommodation is concerned, for stays of a week i would look for a cottage to rent, as that offers far more freedom.
Hope this helps.
 
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#9
Thanks for this; plenty to consider and look in to. If anyone else has any tips, they would be most welcome.
 
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droj
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May is a prime month in the Highlands / Islands, since it's warmed up a bit, the days are long and the midges have hardly started, so it's quite likely that accommodation will be booked ahead, and it might be wise to do that yourselves to get what you want. Unless you're camping.

Weather up the West coast is mercurial - think waterproofs at all times of year. There can be gales too in any month that stop the ferries sailing.

It can rain for a week, with the cloud down on the hills, and then clear with flashing silver light. Take it as it comes, think of it maybe as a pilgrimage.

And you can't do everything in less than a fortnight.. Get up to Inverness and across to the Skye bridge and over it, and take it from there.
 
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When are you planning on coming to Lewis and Harris? Its hard to get accomodation in Harris in summer, I live in Lewis and thats getting the same way now with the volume of tourists coming to the island now.
 
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#12
My recommendation based on doing just the same thing. Oban to Barra then island hop all the way up to Lewis. Then back to Ullapool. It is a stunning trip. Take your time and explore.

Skip Skye. It is quite big and warrants a trip of its own, in winter when it looks better and is less crowded.
 

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My wife and I did an island hopping trip in April a few years ago. Glasgow - Loch Lomond - Oban (ferry) Barra (ferry) South Uist - Benbecula - North Uist (ferry) - Harris - Lewis (ferry) Skye - Loch Ness - Inverness. Our favourite was Barra, where we stayed for 3 nights: not highly photogenic, but beautiful empty beaches, lovely walking, and hardly any people. Skye felt crowded by comparison, even in April.
 
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#15
Skye is very busy and has problems with accommodation at the best of times, far less in May. If you're island hopping then be aware of Calmac's special ticket that cuts ferry costs for such a trip, since that'll save you quite a bit. The days are pretty long in May, so that's a bonus for photography outwith normal daily routines.
 
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#16
Have a look on the Calmac site. You can book individual ferries but they do a number of island hopper tickets just for this sort of trip. They combine a number of ferry crossings. If I recall correctly they are valid for a month (so you can say a bit longer on one island if you want) and can be used in either direction.

Last April we met up in North Uist with friends who used such a ticket to go from Oban to Barra, Barra to South Uist, North Uist to Harris and then Lewis to Ullapool.

Although these ticket allow you just turn up for any ferry it is a good idea to check there is available space on the actual crossing you want as early as possible.

Accommodation depends on what you want - camping, B&B, Hotel or Self-catering. There aren't a huge number of campsite but plenty of the others.

Hope you have a great time - the Outer Isles are magic.

Dave
 
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#17
I would just guess it would be a lot a lot cheaper to drive and it is a great road to put your foot down. Probably the best in the UK.
This - up via A82, A87 and take the bridge and see skye, then Uig Ferry.

Might be tempted to spend a night in Ft William and do the trip to Mallaig etc separately. If you like driving there is no way you can miss out on driving the A87.
 
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