Harris/Lewis

Zazie
Zazie Posts: 335 Forumite
Hi all

Posted this on the UK travel board but haven't had much response so thought I'd try here. Thinking of taking the car to Lewis or Harris in June and would welcome any advice.

1 How to get there (cheaper to get the ferry from Uig to Tarbert but would the drive across Skye be much longer than the drive up to Ullapool to go to Stornaway? Not sure what the roads are like on Skye.)
2 Where to stay (budget mid-range - could be self-catering, hotel or B & B). Someone suggested Hebrides Hotel but it seeems a tad dear.
3 Anything not to miss?

Thanks.

Comments

  • scbk
    scbk Posts: 1,216
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    The roads on Skye are fine, you don't say we're you're from but assuming down south, both Uig and Ullapool are about the same distance away, so timewise about the same

    You could also go via Mallaig-Armadale in one direction

    If you fancy visiting the uists aswell, there's various "hopscotch" tickets you can get, have a look through CalMac site
  • CazGreg
    CazGreg Posts: 207 Forumite
    Don't miss Bosta Beach, and Port of Ness, and the Callanish standing stones. Cnoc Cottages (self-catering, on Isle of Lewis) are great.
    Ah, happy memories of childhood summer holidays spent up there year after year!
    I would say that don't worry much about missing anything - you'll be able to get round a LOT of the islands in two-three weeks. Up there the best things (views, beaches) are often found simply by exploring all the little roads. Just use a map and explore to your heart's content! Don't necessarily aim to GO anywhere in particular, but enjoy exploring all the roads. And, of course, get out of the car and walk up hills/across land to beaches/out to viewpoints and so on.

    I would go back there in a second, if I could afford it. Bliss. Some of the best beaches in the world.
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  • Zazie
    Zazie Posts: 335 Forumite
    Thanks both. Obviously our main aim is to walk and explore, just don't want to miss out anything.
  • ellerman
    ellerman Posts: 13 Forumite
    Huishnish Beach in Harris is truly the most wonderful place. 13 miles down a single track road but i didn't want to leave. We also liked Great Bernara and the area around that (Lewis).
  • Hi - couldn't pass this thread by once I'd seen it!!

    We've stayed on Lewis in a self catering cottage and it was excellent - have a look HERE for where we stayed - I would heartily recommend it. It's close enough to Stornoway that popping to the shop for a pint of milk isn't a problem - something that is quite tough to get used to out there when you're used to being quite close to amenities!

    My suggestion for travel (again, from experience) would be to go from Mallaig to Armadale on the ferry, which gives you the fabulous "road to the Isles" drive (did it last Easter and it is really fantastic!) then Uig > Tarbert, and then back from Stornoway to Ullapool. Link to the relevant page on the Calmac site is HERE. Prices on that route really are very reasonable - by way of a comparison just the Uig > Tarbert > Uig route for a car and two adults would be £69.90 - the Hopscotch would cost a little more at £108.50 but you do get a lot more for your money and have the chance to find out which crossing you prefer for future visits. If you are a poor sailor then go straight for the Uig > Tarbert though - the Stornoway crossing is a little hairy in bad weather!

    If you are planning on being there for a while, ie a fortnight or more, then my suggestion would be to spend a week on one or other Uists - we always stay on North Uist and then travel from our base there - and then a week on either Lewis or Harris, on the same basis, using it as a base and travelling. Again if you're a poor sailor then the Oban > Lochboisdale crossing is best avoided!

    A lengthy visit will give you the chance for lots of exploring - and lots of fabulous walking! You could do a day trip across to Barra (well worth it) and also take a look at some of the lesser known islands - Berneray (linked to N. Uist by causeway) is gorgeous, as it great Bernera (linked by Bridge to Lewis). If you're a hill walker then there are plenty of option but a personal favourite (and a not too taxing one) is Blaishaval (?sp) just outside Lochmaddy - time it right and you get the best view of the ferry coming in! There are some pictures from the Hebrides on my blog, which is linked to my profile here as my homepage if you wanted a look. For other places to go I would recommend the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, and also the restored Blackhouse at Arnol which is fascinating. Also Dun Carloway Broch really shouldn't be missed, and if you have the opportunity a visit to Calanais Standing Stones at dawn or dusk is an incredible experience. On North Uist Balranald RSPB reserve is wonderful, with a fantastic circular walk, and the walk on West Beach at Berneray is also stunning (and one of Prince Charles' favourites, if that makes any difference one way or the other! :rotfl:)

    Have a wonderful time planning your trip and a Fantastic time visiting a truly special part of the UK.
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  • Dont forget about the Hebridean celtic festival

    I'm not allowed to post links yet but the website is hebceltfest.com

    13th-16th July. It gets busy in Stornaway at this time but you can always stay outwith and come in for the festivities. Or volunteer at it to get into events for free.
  • nesssie1702
    nesssie1702 Posts: 1,345
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    edited 19 February 2011 at 2:31PM
    What time of year are you planning on visiting and how long do you intend coming up for? Just read your post and you say June.

    EssexHebridean's given you some good advice on the Cal Mac side of things. Because of the RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) fares that are applied just now, the summer crossings have been very busy over the last couple of years. So book well in advance.

    The Ullapool - Stornoway crossing on the MV Isle of Lewis can be a bit choppy in the middle. Crossing time is 2hrs 45 minutes. If you're taking a vehicle then check in time is 45 mins before the ferry sails. Approx driving time Inverness to Ullapool is 1 hr 15 mins, depending what's ahead of you on the road. The Uig - Tarbert crossing takes 1 hr 50 mins and is much more sheltered. The check in time here is 30 mins. Depending where you're coming from, it might be easier to head this way.

    Once you've arrived, then there's plenty of choice in terms of places to stay. If you're looking for self catering, best try and get somewhere pretty sharpish, as some places book up well in advance. Use Tripadvisor to get opinions from others who've been to the same area. There are also plenty of B&Bs as well as the hotels.

    Don't miss out on the Callanish Stones, The Doune Carloway Broch, the Gearrannan Blackhouses, the Blackhouse at Arnol. Lots of galleries dotted about the place as well as craft shops selling various bits and pieces - Borgh Pottery, Oiseaval Gallery, Morven Gallery, Rarebird Bags, the Foultons in Harris. In Stornoway itself, there's the Museum on Francis Street and An Lanntair Gallery on Kenneth Street. For a bite of lunch, find the Woodlands Centre in the Castle Grounds as it's well worth a visit.

    If walking is your thing, then the Clisham at 799m is the tallest peak in the Hebrides. There are also plenty of coastal walks which are on flatter ground. The machair in the Uists, Harris and Lewis are lovely when the flowers are blooming. Don't miss the beaches, plenty of them and they would be packed if we could guarantee the weather!

    Hope you managed to get yourself sorted out, but if you need any more info, just ask :)
  • alison74
    alison74 Posts: 1,603 Forumite
    Not got much to add other than what everyone else has already put.

    I holidayed in Hebrides last September and had the time of my life (1 day rain out of 15!)

    I put some pictures together with music

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmv5vcoXB2I

    We bought this map from Amazon and explored every orifice of Barra, Uists and more relvant for you, Harris and Lewis.

    I could move to Luskentyre tomorrow, sooooooo beautiful, but then so was Lewis.

    We got ferry back from Stornoway to Ullapool and used Hopscotch tickets to make it a little cheaper.

    We stayed here http://www.kabuis.co.uk/Default.asp?Page=13 which was lovely and only a few miles of Callinish Stones which we visited most days at different times of the day and sunset

    We B&B'd before that, but you need to plan quite carefully as there is an abundance of restaurants to choose from and have select opening hours.

    When we spent the last week on Lewis, we stocked up on food at the Stornoway Tescos and never ate out after that (apart from lunches at various tea rooms).

    Wonderful people, excellent scenery and worth doing.
    ****************************
  • sockdrawer
    sockdrawer Posts: 677 Forumite
    We've been to Harris, the Uists and Lewis over a period of a few years.
    On Lewis, we stayed at the youth hostel (converted blackhouse at Gearrannan Village mentioned by Nessie1702 above.) here although they are part of a cluster of blackhouses you can rent privately here (bit more expensive) Staying in the blackhouse was an amazing and unforgettable experience. We were off season at the youth hostel, and had it to ourselves.
    I don't know if you would mind camping, and realise you didn't mention it as an option, however, in case you would consider it, on Harris, we wild camped on Luskentyre beach, there are opportunities for wild camping all over the islands, (we fish, so often camp near lochs-sometimes asking anyone we see if it's ok, but not bothering if it's quite remote) but this was a particularly gorgeous place to stay.
    On the Uists we camped at Carinish site. Right on the beach, with the machair in full bloom. Again, unforgettable.
    I second Nessie's suggestion that you book your ferry early. We've found them much busier than in the past, and missed the booking we wanted a couple of times.
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