Make an escape to the Hebrides

Aerial view of cliff
Aerial view of cliff

Make an escape to the Hebrides

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Much of Europe is easing into the summer holidays and it is a great time to go explore somewhere new. Scotland is known for the rugged Scottish Highlands and city life in Edinburgh and Glasgow. If you venture to the northwestern reaches of the country, you’ll find the Hebrides—an archipelago of more than 70 islands beckoning adventurers to their shores.

The Inner Hebrides

Sandwiched between the outer barrier islands and the main Scottish coastline, the Inner Hebrides consist of two relatively well-known spots, the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Mull. Rich in Gaelic and Norse culture and history, the inner islands offer rocky shores and dramatic cliffs. Crumbling castle ruins from long ago and cascading waterfalls (known as Fairy Pools) foster the myths and legends of the isles. Hiking trails abound, and a vast array of wildlife, including long-haired Highland cattle and puffins, can be spotted. Take a ferry ride between the islands and keep an eye out for Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa. Crashing waves along the sheer rockface provide a breathtaking point of entry to the towering basalt cave.

The Outer Hebrides

Protecting the Inner Hebrides from the Atlantic are the Outer Hebrides. These islands are more remote and less populated than their inner brethren, apart from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. This charming town sits along the eastern shores and is the central port city for the outer islands. Colorful buildings line the harbor, with the aroma of freshly fried fish and chips wafting through the air. With more uninhabited spaces, the ruggedness and desolation draw in outdoor enthusiasts from afar. Kayaking, camping, hiking and white sandy beaches stretch along the deep blue sea. The Callanish Standing Stones evoke the same mystical feeling of Stonehenge in southern England, but with significantly fewer crowds and a more peaceful, quiet countryside.

The Hebrides provide a perfect escape from ordinary and everyday life. Go ferry hopping between the many islands and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way. Even if outdoor adventures aren’t quite your thing, there are plenty of vintage Scotch whisky distilleries and interesting historical monuments to take advantage of.

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