Scotland has its many wonders, but one of the most fascinating areas is the Outer Hebrides, an island chain located 30 miles off the mainland. There are an incredible 200 inter-linked islands with a population of only 26,000. These proud folks widely speak Gaelic and embrace their roots to this day, especially in the form of music and dance.
The largest island of the Outer Hebrides is Lewis and Harris, and the other large islands are North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, and Barra.
History dates back to Neolithic times or the Bronze Age, with the arrival of the Beaker people. Around 500 BC, Iron Age dwellers settled and established a culture that left behind great ruins and monuments, reminding us of the marvels of ancient times. In 1493 King James IV gained Scottish political control. Various Clans were established and you can still see their testament by visiting the historic homes and castles, giving you a glimpse on how the Scots used to live. Not until the 19th century, when landowners started to import sheep, which caused a flood of immigrants, was this rugged and wild land transformed for commercial use.
Today you can enjoy the rich history of the region. The lush landscape, featuring rugged mountains, unspoiled wilderness, and beaches white and inviting, and an enormous wildlife, make your vacation one you will never forget. For many nature lovers it is paradise found. You can easily access the islands via plane or with one of the several ferries, which are scheduled regularly.
What to do besides enjoying the breathtaking scenery? You can partake in walks, cycling, golfing, or fishing. Fishing is a major part of the Outer Hebrides’ economy with an abundance of prawns, scallops, lobster and shellfish. This industry is most important to the economy for the territory, providing many jobs to a considerable portion of the population. You can visit the magnificent Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis, or the Barpa Lanpass on North Uist. Another tourist favorite is bird watching, with over 100 species breeding on the islands.
The region is also famous for their quality and distinctive taste of food, especially for the known Stornoway Black Pudding and their unique brand of Whiskey. For a change of pace visit the Harris Tweed Mills, still producing one of the finest material in the fashion industry. You can sit and learn the art of weaving while getting to know the award winning products of the company. The jackets, kilts, scarves and hand bags are a great souvenir for your friends and family.
We cannot forget the impact music has had, and still has to this day. Hebrides’s love to sing and this tradition is revealed in the many songs for every occasion, including songs about sowing, reaping and even milking. Enjoy the variety of festivals with foot stomping performances, Celtic art, and delight in the show of kilts, bagpipes and a sip of whiskey.
Fun fact: There are over 80 words to describe the meaning of hill, mountain, or elevated ground. Now that is called love for your mother earth.