Amy

Island hopping in the Scottish wilderness – cycling the Hebridean Way

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Island hopping in the Scottish wilderness – cycling the Hebridean Way

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

4-8

days

3-6 h

/ day

272 mi

9,650 ft

9,525 ft

Dramatic rugged coastlines, enchanting lunar landscapes, untouched nature, miles of pristine beaches, and glistening lochs; cycling the Hebridean Way is a magical journey. Come rain or shine, this ride through the Hebrides, Europe’s westernmost isles, showcases the very best of the unforgettable Scottish wilderness.

The official route is 185 miles (300 km) from the Isle of Vatersay to the northernmost point of the Butt of Lewis. As you will probably arrive and leave the Hebrides by boat, this Collection guides you 271 miles (437 km) from Castlebay on the Isle of Barra to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, where the ferry terminals are located.

You will use ferries and causeways to hop across the Atlantic between the isles and explore the unique charms of the area. Every wind of the road showcases a different aspect of island life: from turquoise seas to ancient castles, rugged hills and historic villages where Gaelic traditions thrive.

Cyclist Mark Beaumont launched the Hebridean Way in 2016. Although he completed it in just 24 hours, this Collection guides you through the route in seven stages which are suitable for any level of rider. But, come prepared for some climbs; with 3,140 metres (10,301 feet) of elevation gain, the mountainous terrain will give your muscles a workout. Relaxed riders can halve each section whilst mile-crunchers can combine them together to create a more challenging ride.

As the route follows well-paved roads, any bike is suitable for this adventure. You can also hire a bike on the island if you prefer to travel more comfortably. Bike repair shops dotted across the islands can help with any mechanicals.

Although the Hebrides are incredible all year-round, spring and late summer are the best time to cycle on the island. The midges are hungrier in the height of summer and you will share the road with lots of large campervans.

As the Hebridean islands are some of the wildest places of Britain, you should factor in extra rest days in case of bad weather. And, if you are camping, ensure your tent can withstand strong winds that could reach up to 45mph (72 kph). If you come prepared, you can enjoy the nature and landscapes here in all their glory.

Despite the vast wilderness, you find plenty of cafes, pubs and shops en route, not forgetting famous whiskey distilleries. Island life is relaxed and slow; take your time to savour every moment. But, don’t forget most places are closed on Sundays.

You will also find comfortable accommodation around the island, although this can be pricey in peak season. Wild camping is legal in Scotland so we recommend packing your tent or bivvy. The isles have countless jaw-dropping nature-made camping spots.

The Hebridean Way starts in Castlebay, a picturesque gray-stone village overlooking the sea and Kilburn Castle. To reach the village, catch a 5-hour boat from Oban on the mainland which has train connections across Scotland.

For more information about the Hebrides, visit: visitouterhebrides.co.uk
Ferry timetables can be found here: aferry.co.uk

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Intermediate
    03:19
    35.0 mi
    10.5 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,225 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    Stage 1 of your epic adventure will take you 34.9 miles (56.2 km) across four isles: Vatersay, Barra, Eriksay and South Uist. Today, you will explore miles of golden sandy …

    by
    Amy
  • Intermediate
    03:21
    35.7 mi
    10.7 mph
    500 ft
    525 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 2 of the Hebridean Way takes you across South Uist; along pristine coastline backdropped by mountains and through flower-filled meadows. If you are lucky, you may spot whales, dolphins, …

    by
    Amy
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  • Intermediate
    03:58
    42.1 mi
    10.6 mph
    900 ft
    925 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Eagles and falcons soar above marshes and rocky foreshore, historic towers stand proudly in the middle of the sea and wonderful causeways bring you across stunning seascapes; stage 3 of …

    by
    Amy
  • Difficult
    04:38
    51.1 mi
    11.0 mph
    2,225 ft
    2,175 ft
    Ferry
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    Stage 4 of your adventure begins on the water taking the ferry from Borgh to the Isle of Harris. You should factor in enough time here: boats depart four times …

    by
    Amy
  • Difficult
    03:40
    36.9 mi
    10.1 mph
    1,950 ft
    1,875 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today, you ride 35 miles (60 km) across the Isle of Lewis discovering its history and culture which dates back thousands of years. The Isle of Lewis is the largest …

    by
    Amy
  • Difficult
    03:56
    40.8 mi
    10.4 mph
    1,700 ft
    1,675 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Standing stones erected in the neolithic era to ancient brochs destroyed in feuds and thatched cottages harking back to days gone by – stage 5 of the Hebridean Way takes …

    by
    Amy
  • Intermediate
    02:53
    30.2 mi
    10.5 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,125 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your final day of adventure reveals more rugged Scottish wilderness. Today, you cover 36 miles (58 km), cycling through a huge range of landscapes. This is an additional stage to …

    by
    Amy

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    272 mi
  • Duration
    25:45 h
  • Elevation
    9,650 ft9,525 ft

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Amy

Island hopping in the Scottish wilderness – cycling the Hebridean Way