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Introducing the Outer Hebrides of Scotland

Jul 17, 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 separated from the Inner Hebrides (the Isle of Skye etc.) by the Minch which is a stretch of sea water which has incredible currents and changeable weather making it rather dangerous to the inexperienced. Looking out across the Atlantic ocean the islands have been shaped by the wind and the waves resulting in some of the most dramatic scenery in the UK. Long inhabited the islands are also well known for their many archaeological sites.

It would seem that wherever you turn in the Outer Hebrides there appears an archaeological site. There are certainly many unusual mounds, lumps and bumps which could easily be ancient burial chambers and each year more and more sites are unearthed and documented. One of the most famous sites is to be found in the small village of Calanais on the Isle of Lewis. The standing stones there rather than forming a stone circle they have and inner circle and four avenues making a shape rather like a cross or crucifix.

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.

If you have heard that the inner parts of the Outer Hebrides are barren and boring this is just not true. While much of the land of the Isle of Lewis is little more than open moorland it does contain a large number of lochs and the other islands have extremely interesting interiors. However it has to be said that it is along the coasts that the most interesting landscapes are to be found. This is especially so along the west coast which has numerous sandy beaches of excellence.

The beaches of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland are amongst the finest to be found in the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. They are to be found all along the west coast (the east coast is mainly rocky inlets) with the vast majority found along the south west coasts of Lewis and Harris and along the west coast of South Uist.

Sport is something else which attracts many to the Outer Hebrides and, in recent years, a number of competitions and tournaments have helped increase awareness in surfing and other sports such as running and cycling. Of course golf and fishing remain as popular as ever and hill walking, rambling and mountaineering continue to be popular also. Windsurfing and wind carting are becoming popular on the larger beaches and it is common to see numerous kites from a distance.

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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