The Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park is the most extensive area of truly high ground south...
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When it was opened by Scottish Natural Heritage in 2017, the Hebridean Way became the fifth official long-distance route in Scotland, stretching 247km (155 miles) along the length of the Outer Hebrides from Vatersay (Bhatarsaigh) in the south to Stornoway (Steornabhagh) in the north. The route crosses 10 islands linked by six causeways and two ferries – and if these numbers do not appear to add up it is because the so-called ‘Isles’ of Harris (Na Hearadh) and Lewis (Leòdhas) share the same landmass. The route traverses a variety of different terrains, passing over rugged hills, along dazzling white shell beaches and across seemingly empty moorland.
The stunning landscape, varied geology, exceptional wildlife and numerous antiquities of the Outer Hebrides are truly awe-inspiring. The Outer Hebrides retain a distinctive culture too, with Gaelic often spoken as a first language in many communities.
Unlike many other long-distance paths, there is considerable variety along the way. The terrain can change rapidly. In the morning you can be walking across a wild moor, then in the afternoon along a blindingly white beach beside turquoise seas. There are also cultural differences. The islands at the southern end of the chain are predominantly Catholic and their communities are considerably more relaxed about religious observance on Sundays. Their leisure centres and supermarkets open on Sundays, which is in total contrast with the mainly Presbyterian islands of Harris and Lewis, where communities are far stricter in observing the Sabbath.
Getting there and getting about means that the Hebridean Way is not the easiest long-distance path in terms of logistics, although there are plenty of tips and advice packed into this guidebook. But it is a jewel that you will remember every time you see a map of the UK.
At the moment, the Hebridean Way is a work in progress. The route currently finishes at Lews Castle in Stornoway. However, once further funding becomes available, there are plans to extend the route all the way up to the Butt of Lewis (Rubha Robhanais), with options running up both the west and east coasts of Lewis. Once they are constructed, these extensions will be incorporated into future editions of this book. But for the moment, two additional stages are included between Stornoway and the Butt of Lewis, making best use of existing paths.
Start planning your own Hebridean Way adventure by downloading the free gpx above from Mud and Routes.
You’ll also need the appropriate OS Maps, which are: