Steve – Driver – Outer Hebrides – June 2012
Well its been a while since I blogged, but since my last blog I have travelled a few miles on various tours, visiting The Lake District, Andora and Northumbria.
So here I go with my blog on this truely amazing tour to The Outer Hebrides.
Day 1: We started from Thurrock as normal, but the unfortunate thing was that it was one of these days when the M25 was being a little bit silly, so we had to divert through Harlow and Hertford to get to south mimms to collect the rest of my passengers, no major harm done, after we were all on board and a nice warm welcome from a Scotsman, we were on our way to Washington for our overnight stay at the Holiday Inn.
Day 2: We departed this morning and after passing the iconic symbol of the north (The Angel of the North) we made our way to Carterbar, the most impressive entrance into Scotland for a photo stop, and believe it or not the minute we crossed the border, we found the sunshine, I then knew I was in my home lands of Scotland 🙂 we then continued our journey to Jedburgh for a comfort stop, before continuing to The Capital of Scotland, The city of Edinburgh. We were met by my friend Keith who then took us on a panoramic tour of his city, passing sights such as Holyrood Palace, The Scottish Parliament, Greyfriars Bobby, The Old Town, The New Town and of course Edinburgh Castle, the tour was thoroughly enjoyed by all my clients and we then had some free time for sightseeing and lunch. On our departure from Edinburgh we then made our way further north passing the area of Bannockburn and Stirling Castle to follow the route of the old military road towards The Highlands of Scotland. Oban was our destination and the scenery was showing itself of at its best, the Mountains were tall and proud, and the Lochs were calm and majestic with shadows of the towering scenery. On our arrival in Oban we dined and relaxed before watching the only Sea going paddle steamer (The Waverly) sail into Oban bay with the sun setting in the background on the Mountains of Mull.
Day 3: We departed this morning with excitement as we new exactly where we were going, yes further north, and the scenery was just going to get better and better the further north we went. We started from Oban and made our way over the Connel Bridge towards Fort William, The sun was shining again and every corner we turned the forever changing scenery was very dramatic and ever so beautiful to admire, following the shore line of Loch Linnhe we captured sights of Ancient Castles, towering Munros and picturesque villages with history and stories from over three hundred years ago, The Appin Murder and The Massacre of Glencoe. I must also mention that we passed the land that is owned by our very own Lord Stuart from operations. We then passed through Fort William, a special little place to myself, being my home town and where I grew up as a child, and then we entered the Great Glen of Scotland, The Glen is a geological fault created by the glaciers, it offers fantastic scenery with its three Lochs, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and The Mighty Loch Ness the home of little Agnes (The Loch Ness Monster) a stop at the Commando Memorial was a must to remember our lost and fallen in this beauty spot with tremendous views to the Nevis Range and The Mother of all Mountains, Ben Nevis. As we moved on we travelled through remote glens with backdrops of breathtaking scenery to probably the most famous Castle in Scotland (Eillean Donan Castle) in its prime position at the head of three Lochs. from here we made our way over the Skye Bridge on to the Inner Hebridean Island of Skye, where once again we were faced with outstanding scenery from the surrounding Islands and The Black Cullin Mountains. We knew we were on the Islands as we met more sheep on the road as opposed to traffic. On arrival at the port of Uig we had in our sights the destination that we were heading for, The Outer Hebrides. Our ferry crossing took us one hour and forty-five minutes and we arrived in North Uist, well what can I say, I have done many ferry crossings in Scotland, but this one just blew me away, it was just breathtaking. On our arrival we made our way to Benbecula to the Dark Island and we were welcomed with a smile and very friendly people.
Day 4: This was our free day to relax, but why come all this way and do nothing I say, so I got busy and arranged a trip out to see a lot more of The Outer Hebrides, It was a fantastic day so here is what we did. I hired a coach to pick us up from our hotel, and drive us down through south uist and on to The Island of Eriskay, we crossed many stepping-stones and drove through some fantastic scenery offering amazing sights, wildlife and the birth place of Flora Mac Donald, on arrival at Eriskay we boarded the Ferry over to the Island of Barra where we were met by two small coaches to give us an Island tour, our first port of call was Castlebay where we had time for sightseeing and a spot of lunch, it was so nice to wander this remote Island and experience the culture of this Gaelic speaking Island. We then boarded our coaches again and were taken to Barra Airport to view the Plane coming in and landing on the beach, the only beach airport in the world, we had a laugh at the customs, baggage reclaim etc, a sight to see. from here we did a bit more sightseeing before returning to the ferry and back to the Dark Island, I would just like to say a big thank you to the two coach companies involved, We had a fantastic day, once again in the glorious sunshine. I would also like to thank my clients for joining me on this trip, and from the feedback, this was one of the best highlights of our holiday.
Day 5: Today we had to say good-bye to Benbecula and travel north again to Harris, as we left the dark Island, we were faced immediatly with a sheep on the road who was determined not to let us past, our ferry crossing was just under an hour, but on arrival we knew we were in the remoteness of Island life, our journey through Harris offered again stunning scenery and some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see, forget the Caribbean, these beaches are just breathtaking with a landscape of mountains surrounding them. The waters were a beautiful colour of turquoise and just so beautiful to look at. The ever changing scenery and the remoteness of these Islands just made you feel that you were on a different planet. So Tarbert was our lunch stop, the main settlement on Harris, we all just blended in nicely with the locals, who were ever so friendly and once again just wandered at a very slow pace absorbing the glorious sunshine. From here we moved north again on The Island of Lewis to the capital town of the Outer Hebrides, Stornoway, again we had a very warm welcome to the Caladh Inn where we were to spend two nights.
Day 6: Today was an outstanding day, with this being a new tour, I wanted to make the day a good day covering the whole of the Island, so that is what we done. Our first port of call was to the Point, we went right out to the Tiumpan head lighthouse and were faced with stunning scenery and Minky Whales out in the Minch.
From here we made our way to The Callanish Standing Stones, the stones are said to be older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Egypt a stunning site to see with the tallest stone being some 18 ft tall, we then visited the Dun Carloway Broch some 2000 years old once again with a backdrop of scenery that is totally outstanding, from here we visited a black house village depicting the life of the 19th century, our guide there was very informative of the history, and a gaelic speaking lady who gave us a very interesting talk on the history of the blockhouses.
We then made our way to the most northerly point of the Island of Lewis to The Butt of Lewis, again we went to the Lighthouse, both lighthouses we visited today were Stevenson’s Lighthouses, he was the Grandfather of the famous scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.Stevenson. we were faced here again with dramatic scenery and a nature reserve for wild birds.
Day 7: Sadly we had to say goodbye, to The Outer Hebrides, with a free morning to explore the town of Stornoway, we departed on our journey to Ulapool with the magnificent sighting of dolphins in The Minch.
All the ferry crossings we done on this tour were just outstanding, and you never knew which way to look, it was like being in an amphetheatre with the surroundings of high towering mountains, no matter which way you looked. We arrived in Ulapool and sadly started to head south to The small city of Elgin for our overnight stay.
Day 8: We departed this morning on our journey south, travelling through The Buchan Triangle an area of Scotland dotted with Whisky distileries, so on every corner we turned it was distilleries we were seeing, and of course the smell of the whisky brewing was in the air. We made our way towards Granton and Spey following the river itself, to The Heather Centre where we stopped for a morning coffee and a nice peacfull vantage point to view the red squirrels feeding. We then started heading south again and we unfortunatly got held up due to roadworks and an accident, however my lovely bunch of clients were not phased as we had a great time in the Hebrides, we did arrive a little bit late to our hotel, but we were welcomed at Preston with a fantastic spread of food and a comfortable bed.
Day 9: Well it was back to the motorways today on our return to Thurrock Interchange. We all had a fabulous time on this new tour, with some of the most breathtaking scenery that Scotland has to offer.
So to all my friends on this tour, I would like to say a very big thankyou to you for travelling with Crusader Holidays to The Outer Hebrides, and hope we all meet again on another tour. I would also like to say a very big thankyou to the two ladies who supplied the photo of the dolphins.
I did forget to mention earlier on that I did brave it as a Scotsman to wear the Kilt on our departure from The Island of Lewis, however it did cause me some problems on the ferry, for taking photos as it was a wee bit windy.
If you would like to join us on this amazing tour visit