Thursday 3 April 2014

Island Hopping

This isn't a travel blog, and I'm really not at all qualified to write about this, but heck that's never stopped me before.  So, today we are all about islands.  Scottish islands.  I'm on one right now.  It feels right. 

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. 

The Uists
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!

So - where next?  The two most obvious missing places from this list are the Shetland Islands, and St Kilda.  Both definitely on the bucket list.

I really hope this might inspire someone to book a holiday right here in Britain, and consider the islands.


  1. Who knew Scotland had such hidden gems! I'll be chucking them into the mix for our summer hols. Thanks for the inspiration xx #WotW

  2. Such awesome places. I want to go there too but cant really so thank you for sharing pictures. #wotw

  3. Wow what lovely places these sound like. I love all the beautiful outdoor photos too. I have never been to Scotland but it's on my list for sure. Looks like place worth visiting. #pocolo

  4. I didn't know Scotland had so many islands....I have been to Orkney when I was a child though :)

  5. These look so lovely. We've never holidayed up in Scotland, but we will get there one day! Thanks for sharing with #WotW x

  6. I didn't know there were so many Scottish Islands either - and they ALL sound lovely - I think Harris particularly appealed to me. Such an interesting post. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

  7. Wow - would love to visit so many of them! Harris was my first choice then I changed my mind!

  8. Wow this is fascinating! All of them look so gorgeous, I love Scotland but never really thought about visiting the Islands... will have to rethink that as they all look and sound lovely! Thanks for the info about Balamory too, I was wondering the other day where it was set, and now I know haha! :) xx #wotw

  9. I love Scotland - we try to visit every 2 or 3 years but its a long old drive from Oxfordshire! Don't know if I could pick a favourite island, but I would like to visit Shetland or Orkneys as I've never been to either.

  10. I had an amazing camping holiday around Scotland in my 20s with my ex husband. We camped on the Isle of Skye (which was amazing) but didn't get to visit any of the others. My uncle once skippered ferries out to the Inishman Islands off the West coast of Ireland and they were a world apart too! #WotW

  11. These islands look absolutely stunning. I have only ever been to Scotland for a day trip when I was 16 and I would really love to go island hopping like you have been doing. An inspiring post! Mel #WotW

  12. Ohhh! I am so jealous and inspired at the same time! I have wanted to visit the islands of the West Coast for so long but my family are midge magnets so I have been put off. Your photos make me want to try and presuade them again! #pocolo

  13. Wow thanks to all for your lovely comments! I really do hope you might get up there and see for yourself - the photos don't do any of it justice!!

    Thanks for reading love kathryn x