Family trip to Outer Hebrides

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rebeccarg
Posts: 1
Joined: 14 Mar 2022, 4:16am

Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by rebeccarg »

Hello all,

My family and I (husband, 17-year-old son, his 18-year-old girlfriend) are planning a June trip in the Outer Hebrides. We are renting bikes in Oban, taking the ferry and starting in Castlebay on Barra.

It looks mostly flat but some pretty serious hills toward the end. I'm getting an ebike which will help get me up those hills, but do you all have other advice? I'm booking places to stay early as I have heard it gets popular and we don't want to camp this time ...

Please send any tips my way. We did a big trip a couple of years ago from Inverness down to Edinburgh and beyond, so I think this will be easier, unless windy ...
Jdsk
Posts: 18655
Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Jdsk »

Welcome.

We had a great time.

There's a hostel in Castlebay:
https://www.dunardhostel.co.uk

And some cheap places all the way up run by a charitable trust. Some ropey but fun:
http://www.gatliff.org.uk

NB shopping restrictions on Sundays:
viewtopic.php?t=135667&hilit=hebrides+hostel

We had no insect problems but do read the book and prepare countermeasures:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midges-Scotlan ... 1841589381

Jonathan
Norman H
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Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 4:39pm

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Norman H »

Durnard Hostel is very close to the pier at Castlebay and can get busy with ferry arrivals and departures. Croft 183 is about 4 miles outside Castlebay and is an excellent alternative. The Gatliff Trust hostels are basic but quite charming and should be experienced if you can, it's first come first served so you do take pot luck and a tent is a good insurance. The one on Berneray is in a delightful location as is the one at Reinigeadal on Harris. I can also recommend Nunton House Hostel on Benbecula, and the Heb Hostel in Stornoway is very handy for the early morning ferry if you're returning to the mainland that way.

It's worth taking a day to explore Bara and Vatersay before heading further north and if anyone's feeling energetic the short climb up to the summit of Sheabhal, Barras highest peak, is well worth the effort for the view overlooking Castlebay. It's also worth exploring some of the excursions off the main Hebridean Way. I've already mentioned Reinigeadal but the road out to Husinis is particularly good although I don't know what accommodation is available as I've always wild camped.
Pendodave
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Joined: 3 Jun 2020, 8:27am

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Pendodave »

John's bunkhouse on berneray is a great place to stay.
Rather than stornaway, I came back from lochmaddy (sp) to oban which allowed a nice loop around Harris. If you only went one way through Harris, you'd regret missing the other one!
Low flying owls everywhere.
pal
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Joined: 22 Mar 2008, 11:49am

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by pal »

I went last summer (in late June), and had a great time. One small issue I had was getting space on some of the ferries (never usually a problem with a bike, so it caught me unawares!) -- but I'm guessing that the restrictions on capacity will have eased by this summer, if they haven't already.

I stayed here on Uist, and can recommend it: basic, but very friendly -- beach down the road in one direction, and very good pub up the road in the other: https://www.northuistbunkhouse.co.uk/

The stretch through Harris, though (a bit) hilly was a highlight for me. There are good cakes (and views) at the West Harris Community Trust centre at Talla na Mara (https://www.tallanamara.co.uk/) (they also sell puncture repair kits, I happened to notice!), and an unremarkable-seeming food van half way down the hill towards Tarbert from which I got scallop and black-pudding sandwich which will live long in my memories... (The beach at Luskentyre is worth a detour too, imo, if the weather's good and you have the energy.)
esme1jack
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Joined: 1 Mar 2009, 8:12pm

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by esme1jack »

Thehairs1970
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Joined: 11 Aug 2018, 9:30am

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Thehairs1970 »

How far north are you planning on going? We, wife and I and ‘kids’ of 17 and 20, did the Hebridean way in both directions this summer. Loved it. We were camping and spent about 10 days doing it. Some areas are flat, some rolling with a steep one north of Tarbert. S to N is the steeper one which levels off somewhat but essentially goes up for a long while. Bear in mind the flat sections can be demanding in a head wind. We had 40mph+ for a day and it was pretty tough esp for the youngest.

Warm in Scotland means anything above zero so dress for warm.

Food - there a few roadside trailer eateries that serve some good food. Taste ‘n’ sea overlooking Seaforth Island on the main road is a particularly good stop and very popular.

Enjoy. I’m jealous. Hopefully no midges for you.
Jdsk
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Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Jdsk »

The Gatliff Trust has just announced that all of the hostels are now open:
https://gatliff.org.uk/?page_id=4013

Jonathan
Tangled Metal
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Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Tangled Metal »

My first tour was mull. Summer too. We got very wet indeed and I got so cold late afternoon into the evening and a few days from midday! I ended I buying a haglofs primaloft jacket which I made sure was always to hand. I now wear that jacket in winter round here. I still don't understand why I felt so cold that I needed a really warm layer.

Conversely I've sat just below the summit of the Buckle in February with just a thin base layer with the sleeves rolled up because I'm rather hot. Amazingly high winter temperatures about less than a month after heavy snowfall, avalanches and iirc a lot of deaths in the Highlands in January. Scotland I think has extremes of temperature and weather and you cannot guarantee good or bad weather in summer or winter.
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pjclinch
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Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by pjclinch »

Tangled Metal wrote: 7 Jul 2022, 10:57pm My first tour was mull. Summer too. We got very wet indeed and I got so cold late afternoon into the evening and a few days from midday! I ended I buying a haglofs primaloft jacket which I made sure was always to hand. I now wear that jacket in winter round here. I still don't understand why I felt so cold that I needed a really warm layer.

Conversely I've sat just below the summit of the Buckle in February with just a thin base layer with the sleeves rolled up because I'm rather hot. Amazingly high winter temperatures about less than a month after heavy snowfall, avalanches and iirc a lot of deaths in the Highlands in January. Scotland I think has extremes of temperature and weather and you cannot guarantee good or bad weather in summer or winter.
It's quite true you can't guarantee the weather up here, and you need some level of emergency clothing backup. As to the "how can I get this cold?" a lot of that is to do with wet. Water conducts heat much better than air so if you get wet then you generally get cold: the point of waterproofs isn't staying dry but staying warm, because while being wet is annoying staying cold will eventually kill you. I've felt much colder in damp cold in Scotland at a few degrees over freezing than at a dry -20 in Norway and Canada.

Last week's tour my bad weather set was a warm wool base layer, a lightweight insulated smock, water-resistant hiking trousers and a light waterproof, with always the proviso of a worst case pitch tent by the road and get in the sleeping bag option. Despite quite a bit of windy driech, all the cycling was just in a light base layer and about half the time a windproof jacket. Only used the waterproof one day, the smock and wool layer were nice on the cooler evenings in camp.

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...
Tangled Metal
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Joined: 13 Feb 2015, 8:32pm

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Tangled Metal »

That funny summer in mull was actually not wet. I just felt like it was cold and I felt even colder.

It was like I had become like the southern England visitors to the kendal mountain film festival who a few years ago were wearing down coats you'd see at everest base camp when the locals were still in T-shirts or at least no more than thin coats.
Dingdong
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Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Dingdong »

esme1jack wrote: 15 Mar 2022, 1:45pm Recommended......https://www.otterbunkhouse.com/
+1 great place to stay
Dingdong
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Joined: 22 Apr 2022, 4:59pm

Re: Family trip to Outer Hebrides

Post by Dingdong »

If traveling outside of the summer season (mid June to mid August,l), from experience it's a good idea to take warm weather gear and at least a waterproof jacket. It can rain a lot, and it gets mighty cold in winter!
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