First BIG Adventure - Outer Hebrides

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by Esmerelda, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. Esmerelda

    Esmerelda

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    We are planning our first BIG adventure in Esmerelda (our Fiat Rapido MH). We have had several weekends away, but this time its for 2 weeks and travelling to the other end of the country (we live in Cornwall) to the Outer Hebrides.

    We have decided to use a mixture of Britstops and campsites plus some wild camping once in Scotland. Can anyone recommend any sites in the Outer Hebrides - there seem to be quite a few but I also found on their official website that there are places to wild camp.

    Also any tips much appreciated.
     
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  2. lorger

    lorger Funster

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    Hi firstly you will love the place, if you do a search here you will find a few posts on the outer Hebrides I posted a wee blog I did with my daughter who was 12 at the time when we did the trip in 2010.

    Also Ralph and Bev did it last year and I'm sure their back over there just now and will report when their back.
     
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  3. lorger

    lorger Funster

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    Hi Just did a search for you here is a copy of our blog, it was just written for our own family memories mainly by Lorraine and Sophie, im sure things have changed since then but will give you a wee guide.

    Gerry
    This is a couple of years out of date now but might help you, I think also if you put Hebrides into the search box you will find something on Tiree. We loved this trip and it could easily be done in parts or in less time.

    We spent 2 weeks in the outer hebrides in easter 2009 my wife and daughter did a wee diary hope it helps and doesnt bore you.


    3rd April

    Travelling from Dumfries to Loch Lomond to stay overnight, wild camping outside Ardlui. Great spot. We have an Island Hopper 23.

    4th April
    My 40th Birthday moving onto Oban to catch Ferry to Barra. Did some shopping at Tesco and they now have spaces for motorhomes, you could probably stay overnight before catching a ferry.

    Got off the ferry in Barra and drove to the airport and stayed overnight. The wind must have been about 30 miles per hour. Great spot to watch the plane landing on the beach. Lovely sandy beach for playing and walking the dog, loads of shells for the kids to collect.

    Castlebay two hotels, grocery shop, and post office. The toffee shop is great, they also do jewellery and their own sticky toffee pudding, which they are happy to post home for your. Also have webpage.

    5th April
    We drove round to Vatersay which is attached to Barra by a small causeway. Stayed at the Village hall with 3 other campers. Toilets and water available. Honesty box for leaving fee for staying overnight. The beach was in a small bay with fantastic tropical blue waters and golden sand. As per photo. Also saw the wild dolphins jumping between two fishing boats, great to watch.

    If interested in golfing, they have a very small golf course with a difference, all greens are fenced off so the sheep can’t get at them.

    6th April
    Drove back round to Airport and had lunch at the café, good selection of food and you can watch the plane landing and taking off.

    Catching ferry from The Sound of Barra – Eriskay. Very short crossing and you can stay seated in your vehicle. Eriskay has wild ponies. Drove further on to South Uist and stayed at picnic area and beach. Beach was lovely but not really for making sand castles, much more for walking and exploring. Lots of seaweed and greyish sand. Loads of space for campers.

    7th April
    Stopped in Lochboisdale next to Tourist Information and had a hot shower and toilets. Shower costs £1.00. Not the greatest pressure but warm and clean. The Tourist Information was very friendly and helpful. Not much in the town. Spoke to a fisherman who gave us the weather forecast for the next few days, he was spot on. He travels two miles on his boat and catches prawns.

    Did some shopping in the Co-op in Benbecula. Had a meal in Temple View, North Uist which is owned by a couple, but not Islanders. Food was good and very informative about the Island.

    Clachan Post Office and Shop sold gas bottles.

    Took the Causeway to Berneray and watched the seals at Seal Point. You can see around 30 seals at certain times of the year. We saw around 10. free wifi

    Drove by Hostel and thatched cottages, we parked on the grassy area next to another motorhome, next to the beach. Beach again was a walking and exploring beach with loads of seaweed. Great place to park, very flat.

    8th April
    Catching ferry to Leverburgh but when arrived the ferry was not running due to tidal problems. The next ferry was also cancelled and the 5.40 ferry was fully booked and taking a waiting list. Only way off the Island was to book Lochmaddy to Harris via Skye. Which we did! The showers on the ferry had great pressure and lovely and warm, just need to check with manager.

    Harris
    Went into Tourist Information and got loads of information, the two ladies were extremely helpful and even charged our laptop for us. Free internet hotspot in carpark.

    Stopped in the mcGillvary Centre which is suitable for staying overnight as they have toilets available.

    Stayed overnight at Luskentyre, lovely beach and toilets available with no lights in evening so remember your torch. Little walk to beach, well worth the walk, beach stretches for miles, of golden sand with lovely surfing waves. Lovely views of surrounding mountains.

    9th April
    Woke up to really heavy rain and high winds, moved on late morning. Had light lunch at Skoon Art Café, very reasonably prices, food was good, Sophie especially liked the triple chocolate brownie served with two scoops of Scottish icecream. When ordering scones for one you will received two. So you may like to share. Large pot of tea with extra pot of hot water. Well worth the drive off the main road. Art work was fantastic, but very pricey. Bought some small card prints.

    Visited one of the Croft Tweed Shops, but remember to ask if you would like to see them weaving. We didn’t and arrived at the main shop in Tarbet to find out that the shop we had visited early would have shown us the weaving.

    Tarbet is a lovely little town, with two grocery shops and post office. Chip Shop also.

    Went to Cnip (Kneep) to say at Campsite to find out campsite was only a field with public toilets, but great beach. Didn’t stay due to campsite being uneven. (Other motorhomes and tents had taken up all flat places.

    Staying at pinic area with toilet, short walk to beach, Ardroil. 2 miles by Uig Shop and Petrol station.

    10th April
    Stopped at Uig shop for shopping and noticed they also sell gas bottles. Drove most of the day arriving at Stornoway Campsite. Extremely clean showers and toilets but shower cublicles bit small.

    Walked to golf course, cost £25 per game. Limited space on Saturday due to competition and no playing on a Sunday.

    Walked further up hill to castle, bit disappointed and not open to walk around, not much information really. Walked back down through grounds and into town. Town is small but has everthing required. Tourist Information in town centre. Large Co-op at edge of town. Early night with TV signal.

    11th April
    Drove to Coll Pottery, but was shut, so drove further on to Traigh Mhor Beach, Toilets available. Beach stretched for miles of golden sand, once again a bit windy. Possible to stay overnight. Toby wouldn’t come back so left him in carpark, drove off and he chased us.

    Back to Stornoway and out to Lighthouse at Point. Lovely views, but no real place to park.

    Later on that night, got bus from bottom of lane (timetable at reception) to town. Had a meal at The Boat Shed in the Royal Hotel. Good variety on menu with children’s section. Remember and ask for the kids cocktail. Taxi home cost £4.85.

    12th April
    Sophie, Gerry and Toby went cycling into town, extremely quiet due to everyone being in church.

    Lorraine cleaned the motorhome !!!!

    Drove to Butt of Lewis via play park and beach. Sophie and Gerry played at park for ½ hr and Toby and Lorraine went for a walk along the path. We all went down the beach and once again a brilliant view with no wind and golden sand. Big cliffs where Sophie managed to create and echo. Rain started and all locals rang away.

    Headed to Lighthouse, parked up and had a cuppa and biccie waiting for the rain to stop. Once rain stopped, had a good walk around the cliff tops. Stunning views across to the mainland.

    Not as many places to stop for wild camping so stopped at campsite E….. but moved on due to lack of facilities. Toilets and showering facilities extremely old and electric didn’t work.

    Drove to Norse Mill and Kiln parked next to sea loch, with lovely sunset. Still no wind. Fish jumping in loch. Golden eagle flying overhead.

    13th April
    headed back to Harris stopped at small pottery think it was blue pig they where very nice and did art lessons and sold loads of nik naks. Headed to Harris golf club for a game of golf then stayed the night at luskintyre before catching ferry from Harris.

    Heading for Skye.
     
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  4. CWH

    CWH Funster Life Member

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    Brilliant - you'll love it! (we went in our pre-MH days).
    When are you planning to go?
    Considering the time taken travelling from here to there (we're also in Cornwall) do you think you're giving yourselves enough time with 2 weeks?
    How long is your MH?

    TIP - if you get to Barra, have an evening meal at the Barra Hotel - the sunsets are stunning.
     
  5. DavidG58

    DavidG58 Funster

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    You will either love it or hate it, my favourite place in the UK is the Isle of Harris, now located in the Western Isles which might improve your internet search.

    Harris is actually attached to Lewis, with the border actually being high up in the mountains, every island in the WI / OH is different

    There are very few sites and relatively expensive given that you can wild camp almost anywhere, but given the cost of the ferries the camp sites will not hurt too much

    Have fun (y)
     
  6. HymerB544

    HymerB544 Funster

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    Wow that is some adventure! We've toured Scotland twice, once from our old home in Yorkshire and last year (at this time) from Cornwall. We toured round the mainland coast from West to East and did 2500 miles in total. I could tell you about some lovely mainland coastal sites but no help on the islands I'm afraid, apart from Skye. One tip though; we found even five weeks wasn't long enough to see the places we wanted to see. Happy camping!
     
  7. Esmerelda

    Esmerelda

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    Thanks all - and Gerry what a fab diary! Our motorhome is 5.5m long. Unfortunately we can only manage 2 weeks but its better than nothing :)
     
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  8. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    It's one of my fave places in the world. No need for any sites, find a place and rock up. Go off the beaten track and speak to locals and ask them for places - they're all friendly and would rather you find a nice place out of sight rather than plonking yourself outside someone's house. Oh and top tip for all that travel out there. Please DO NOT go to Oban and stock up with food etc in the Tescos there. There are shops on the islands and restaurants. Not only do the locals see it as people in MHs essentially not putting anything into the local economy, but you won't get to speak to anyone find new places etc... Some pics of what you can hope to expect :) image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
     
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  9. Stagman

    Stagman Funster

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    Agree re the shopping but perhaps get the wine from Oban Tescos. Not much choice on the islands where thats concerned.
     
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  10. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    Never a truer word said. The scots are not renowned for their wine!
     
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  11. irnbru

    irnbru Funster Life Member

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    What a great blog @lorger . Wondered why I missed it before but then noticed the date of your trip.
     
  12. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    indeed.. but even using them for just a few nights, or one night in three would help the local economy ..
    Not doing so.. in your own words....>>>>>>

    there are also crofters who offer hospitality.. for a small fee, overnight with waste and water facilities..
     
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  13. Esmerelda

    Esmerelda

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  14. namwaldog

    namwaldog Funster

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    Great Blog. Thank You. You mentioned the Lewis Chessmen and it reminded me of the third of a trilogy of books I recently read called The Chessmen by Peter MAY...

    The trilogy is based on the Isle of Lewis and the descriptions are atmospheric. I would advise reading them in sequence.
    Thanks again
     
  15. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    I'll be honest and say that I didn't see any crofters that offered this, if I did I probably would have taken up the offer (albeit there is something brilliantly refreshing of wild camping in the sticks).

    That said - it was mainly the crofters who were telling me the best places to go and explore :)
     
  16. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    not suggestion you shouldn't enjoy wilderness camping, (as opposed to so called 'wild camping' on the street or car park) it is fantastic.. it's what motorhoming is all about ..

    Glad you enjoyed Scotland.. it has so much to offer the motorhomer.. :)
     
  17. ChrisMac

    ChrisMac Read Only Funster

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    If you venture to South Uist, Kilbride campsite us an excellent wee site with a cafe as well. Pollochar Inn is about a mile away. Also a good place to wild camp is Garrynamonie machair but there are so many places you can park up.
     
  18. The DATeam

    The DATeam

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    Hi, we visited the Outer Hebrides in late May early June. Traveling from Oban to Castlebay, up through the Islands and returning back via Stornoway to Ullapool. What a fantastic holiday, it has to be a must for all Motorhomers. Unlike a lot of other Funsters, we stayed on sites, two nights in each, and what excellent sites they were. Borne Camping and Caravan Site on Barra. Kilbride Camping, South Uist. Moorcroft Holidays, on North Uist. Flodabay Farm on Harris. This site is a one off. Tony and Sharon, the crofters, have hewn the pitches out of solid rock. A site that we will talk about for long into the evenings and never forget. Finally, Traigh Na Beirigh (Reef Beach). As one Funster has posted, this is in an idyllic position, but the site is very uneven and few pitches are level. We were lucky and had a pitch that was level and right on the edge of the beach, get there early.

    Tips from our travels:-

    Our Motorhome, like yours is a Rapido, ours is 7.5 meters long and we had no problems traveling throughout the Islands . The roads on the Islands are narrow, but there are no hedges or trees to get in the way. Just be wary of meeting the odd 44 tonne lorry where you would least to expect meet one.

    We booked a Island Hopscotch ticket through Caledonian MacBrayne. As we knew when and what ferries needed, we booked them at the time of purchasing our ticket. We would advise doing this as we came across a number of Motorhomers who had Island Hopscotch Tickets, and were having trouble getting on some of the ferries as they were full.

    Harris is by far the prettiest of the Islands, make sure you travel up or down both the West and East coasts, spectacular.

    We always travel self sufficient, and for the sixteen days we were away had no need to buy provisions while we were on the Islands. We would disagree with the Funster who suggested only buying the wine at Tesco Oban. We would suggest stocking up with a few provisions, as well. Shops are very far and few between, as are eating places. There is Motorhome parking at Tesco Oban, but it is pay to park and from memory we think there is a maximum stay limit.

    A lot of people have mentioned stopping along the coast by Barra airport. We don't know if things have changed, but we found nowhere to stop. You cannot use the Airport car-park, and most of the lay-byes were chained off. There is an area just north of the Airport, with one Motorhome parked, but the it was rough and uneven we could not get in.

    As mentioned, we traveled at the end of May beginning of June. Forget sitting outside of your Motorhome watching the sun set. At that time of year there is very little darkness. Still lots of daylight and no mosquitoes.

    DO NOT FORGET THE WIND, it blows all the time, take a hat.

    Enjoy the Islands, we did.

    PS we traveled up from Hampshire, leaving home at 19:00 expecting to get to the campsite at Tebay Services at midnight, we were booked in to arrive at that time. Due to motorway/road closures and a serious accident we didn't get to Tebay until two in the morning. We had notified the Site Manager of our lateness and had been given instructions on what to do when we got there, but there, as we arrived was the Manager to greet us, what service. A great stop over site with flexible arrival times, and of course only a short walk to the Services and what must be one of the best Full English Breakfasts you can buy.

    PPS the picture of our Rapido was taken at the Flodabay Farm site.
     
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  19. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    Yes, go the other way and taste the delights of Italy.
     
  20. mikebeaches

    mikebeaches Funster

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    Great blog thanks! And yes, brings back happy memories of our own tour round the Outer Hebrides a couple of years ago.

    Like your van too - Rapido 709F! We used to have one before the Chausson. Smashing MH. We loved ours.

    Mike
     
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