Over the years me and the husband (and now the boy too) have enjoyed many a Scottish island holiday. I'm not sure why we are drawn to them so much - I'm Scottish, this is true, but I grew up in the centre, about as far from the coast as it is possible to get. Perhaps if I list here the different islands we have travelled to, and their (many and varied) qualities it will begin to become clear:
The original. Some may say best. A lovely sweeping view of Eilieen Donan castle upon approaching the road bridge. The road bridge! The Three Chimneys restaurant - a converted bothy with a helipad and Michelin food. Talisker whisky.
"Scotland in miniature" the brochures say, and they aren't exaggerating. You could be anywhere in Scotland here- coast, glen, forest, field.
Home to Tobermory (the inspiration for and real-life setting of Balamory). An old school friend lived here for a while, skippering whale-watching tours.
The Orkney Islands
More Viking than Scottish. Scara Brae, Mae's Hoe, the Ring of Brodgar... These (pre)historic sites are breathtaking. Long before the Black Death, people on these islands were a bustling, trading, worshipping, art-loving community.
Stornoway black pudding. Callanish standing stones. Brochs (medieval towers built as coastal look-outs). Black houses (peat roofed, low-lying crofts, nestled along the coast).
A tropical paradise on one side, an other-worldly lunar landscape on the other. The best beaches I have ever stepped foot on. Machair (lush coastal wild meadows which are simply beautiful in flower). Wild mussels. A community which still frowns upon doing the laundry on the sabbath, and stands respectfully still for an islander's funeral.
Fly in from Glasgow on a tiny plane, landing in the middle of fields. A quiet, farming community perfect for cycling around or just whiling away a week or two in the quiet peace of the inner Hebrides.
Semi-wild ponies. A settlement on the edge, scattered, clinging to the shore. An amazing drive/ferry hop from Harris to Barra.
Home to some of the best and most abundant sea food we have ever had the pleasure of eating. Feels like the very edge of the UK. Amazing beaches, kayaking- even an Indian restaurant! If you are brave you can fly in and land on the expansive cockle beach. If, like us, you'd rather take the scenic route in - you can simply visit the landing strip to pick cockles for dinner!