Hebrides out of This World; Spectacular Scenery and Lots to Do on Idyllic Isles

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Byline: Craig McQueen

BOASTING some of Scotland's most beautiful and spectacular scenery, the Outer Hebrides has something to offer for everyone.

Made up of six main islands, there's an impressive mix of history, culture, food, wildlife and outdoor activities to choose from.

And reaching the islands is now much cheaper thanks to the Road Equivalent Tariff which has led to a reduction in Caledonian MacBrayne ferry fares on key routes, starting from as little as pounds 11 return for a foot passenger.

Calmac ferries sail to the islands from Oban to Barra and South Uist, from Uig in Skye to Harris and North Uist, and from Ullapool to Stornoway.

There are also regular scheduled flights from Scotland's big cities.

Lewis is the largest of the islands, and is bursting with archaeological sites, from the neolithic Callanish Stones, which predate the Egyptian pyramids, to the Pictish Carloway Broch, the Norse mill house and many more.

The west coast of these islands also experience the full impact of the North Atlantic swells and have the most consistent surf in Europe.

The whole landscape of the island is built for adventure with great sea cliffs to abseil from and bays and islands to explore by kayak or boat.

Harris is often described as the "high heart of the Hebrides," with the east coast offering a dramatic, rocky landscape, while the west coast has miles of golden sandy beaches and fertile machair - the Gaelic word for an extensive, low-lying fertile plain which bursts into an astonishingly beautiful riot of colour every summer.

The Harris Hills are formed on the oldest rock in the world, Lewisian gneiss, while there is fantastic salmon and trout fishing, golfing, and even tennis right on the edge of the Atlantic.

Harris is also home to Seallam! Visitor Centre, which offers a wealth of information on the island and its history.

The centre's Bill Lawson said: "We are home to exhibitions, concerts, a bookshop and a genealogy service, so there are a lot of reasons to visit.

"At the moment our static exhibition is on the natural history of the islands. We have a temporary exhibition on emigration from the islands and another exhibition on the history of St Kilda."

Moving south, the island of North Uist is a stunning blend of beaches, machair lands and freshwater lochs interrupted by rolling dark moorland hills. Running 13 miles north to south, it takes roughly 45 minutes to travel around the island. …