If you look at the world map, you will not find any name that looks like Hebrides. So, what is it? Is it a country or a continent? Hebrides comes from the word Habredey which roughly means the islands at the edge of the sea. To be precise, the Hebrides is a chain of islands that is thirty miles off the Northwest coast of Scotland. It is the group of islands that surround the British Islands. There are outer and inner Islands on Hebrides. It is about 120 kilometers in length and the Hebrides lays 57 or 58 degrees north of Scotland. They are surprisingly close to the mainland but they feel like a separate world with its traditions and exciting cultures. The Outer Hebrides are made up of many tiny islands such as Lewis, Harris, North and South Uist, Taransay, Benbecula, and Saint Kilda. Each small island has its own peculiarities and great attractions.
Lewis is the largest and most popular Hebridean Islands that are the outer ones. It has over 6000 residents. Lewis is especially rich with archaeological sites. It holds the Neolith Callanish Stones which pre-dates the Egyptian Pyramids, the Pictish Calloway Broach, the Norse House, and many more attractions. Lewis is the perfect place for surfers because the west coast side of the island experiences the full impact of the North Atlantic swells and has the most consistent surf in Europe. The main town in Lewis is Stornoway and that surprises many people because it has all of the modern amenities for such a small town. And, it has a vibrant social scene especially on the weekends.
Harris, known as the highland and described as the high heart of the Hebrides, has incredible landscape diversity. The dramatic rocky landscape East Coast differs dramatically from the breathtakingly beautiful West Coast. From Cliffs, mountains and moorlands to crofts, lochs, meadows and sandy beaches, this is an island ready to exceed all expectations. Being formed on the oldest rock in the world, the Harris Hills captivate visitors with the castles that are nestled in lovely bays, fantastic salmon and trout fishing, golfing, and even tennis right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
Running 13 miles from North to South, it takes about 45 miles to travel around the entire island of North Uist. Having a rich and untouched, North Uist is a must see for lovers of bird watching. North Uirt houses the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The main town of the island is called Lochmaddy which is the gateway to the South Islands and is home to the Taigh Chearsabhagh arts center. If people look at it from the air, North Uist looks like giant water logged sponge with its thousands of fresh water lochs. The island is a haven for nature lovers and perfect for walking, kayaking, and cruising.
Being linked to the island of Eriskay, is a causeway that is called South Uist has over twenty miles of brilliant white shell beaches running continuously down the west coast. Being composed of inlets and bays, South Uist's incredible lands and dunes are brimming with flowers and wildlife. This island is well known for its views and many walking paths.
The volcanic islands of Saint Kilda lie forty miles to the west of the main archipelagos chain and it has the most dramatic landscape of anywhere in the United Kingdom. Saint Kilda is the most important sea bird breeding station in North West Europe. Owned by the National Trust of Scotland, Saint Kilda is a very thinly populated island. Because of the influx of visitors that caused widespread poverty and starvation, the inhabitants of the island left the island last century. However, many stories and folklore about life on Saint Kilda have been heard in an abandoned village on the island.
The island of Islay, known as the Queen of the Hebrides is the southern most island of the Inner Hebrides. It lies about 25 miles north of the Irish Coast which can be seen on a clear day. It only has 3000 inhabitants and it is considered to be one of Scotland's most beautiful islands. Its main industries are malt whiskey distilling and tourism that is largely based on whiskey and bird watching. An outstanding sight is Islay's Kilarrow Parish Church.
Certainly, both the Outer and Inner Hebrides have both historical and natural appeal for people who go to their shores. If you are a real nature lover, please visit Hebrides.