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The Remote Islands of the Outer Hebrides

Jul 12, 2008
The Outer Hebrides are a fascinating group of over 200 islands which can be found off the west coast of Scotland. Gaelic is the native language of the area and the main inhabited islands are those called the Isle of Lewis, Isle of Harris, North and South Uist, Benbecula and Barra plus there are a number of smaller inhabited islands such as the Isle of Scalpay off Harris. In recent years there has been a continued growth in the interest in the Hebrides and tourism is now a major element of the local economy.

The Outer Hebrides are really on the periphery of Europe as they are really rather remote set further out than the Isle of Skye, separated by the somewhat dangerous area of sea known as the Minch. Out in the Atlantic ocean the islands have been dramatically shaped by the pounding waves and powerful winds (that occur during the winter months) the landscape is incredibly unique. Throughout the islands there are many archaeological sites of extreme interest to archaeologists and visitors alike.

It would sometimes seem that there are archaeological discoveries made every year in the Outer Hebrides. While this is something of an exaggeration it is pretty close to the truth as the islands are dotted with numerous examples of ancient homesteads, ruins, burial chambers, stone age monuments and iron age forts and houses. The most famous site is the incredible stone circle, or standing stones, of Calanais on the Isle of Lewis (also know and the Callanish Standing Stones).

The Outer Hebrides are also of great interest to geologists and botanists. The unique flora and fauna found in the Hebrides attracts many each year. Unfortunately many species are in danger of extinction through the actions of man. The worst offence is the introduction of species not known in the islands and most recently the introduction of hedgehogs has led to severe problems as they feed off the eggs of rare birds. Strangely there is the machair which can only really exist with the help of man. This land is enriched with calcium and other elements by the dressings of shell sand swept inland continually. Used as farm land for potatoes and the likes the machair is often covered in nothing but a blanket of wild flowers.

Although many consider the interior of the islands rather boring this is simply untrue. Although the interior of the Isle of Lewis consists mainly of flat and barren peat lands there are also a great many interesting and beautiful lochs and lochans. Maybe the interiors seem boring due to the fact that the islands coastline is so astounding. Along the west coast of the Outer Hebrides are some of the most beautiful beaches to be found in the United Kingdom (and some say Europe).

The beaches of the Outer Hebrides are truly astounding and many consider them to be amongst the greatest in Scotland, the United Kingdom and some even believe them to be the finest beaches in Europe. You will find the beaches along the west coast of the islands (the east coast is rocky), with the best beaches being to the south.

All across the Outer Hebrides are superb places to enjoy a wide variety of sports. While golf, fishing and hunting remain as popular as ever newer sports are becoming increasingly important. Surfing and other sea & wind related sports such as wind surfing and wind carting have recently become extremely popular. However, when you visit you will notice just how popular cycling vacations are here.

If you are interested in visiting the islands of the Outer Hebrides you will be pleased to know that the transport links and the accommodation available are excellent. It is possible to get flights to Barra and the Isle of Lewis (Stornoway) but most folk travel to the islands by ferry from a number of ports. Accommodation is always of the highest standards and hospitality is world renowned.
About the Author
Looking for Harris Self Catering Accommodation or bed and breakfast isle of harris? Take a look at http://www.enjoyhebrides.com/
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