If you are a fan of mountain biking and will be visiting the Outer Hebrides, the liminal chain of islands in the North Atlantic just northwest of Scotland, you need to be sure to leave some time for riding. It is truly one of the most magical places to ride, and no vacation would be complete without spending some time on two wheels.
It won’t always be an easy ride – the winds are strong, the peat bogs are large, and there are some killer hillsides to go along with the winter weather. But the vast open skies and bright summer days will make the quiet, single-track deserted roads and sandy beaches worth every drop of sweat. And the consistent tailwinds help counter the work you will have to put in uphill.
Anthropologists believe humans have been residing in the region for 8,000 years, and there’s really no better to scope out the sites than on bike. Lewis, the largest of the islands, makes for some of the most excellent riding. Do be aware that paths are hard to come by, and you may be isolated at times. But relish that, take in the open air and the desolate landscape. It is so hard to come by back on mainland civilization, so enjoy it!
But if you do look closely, you’ll find what look to be small black squares dotting the land. These are called arigheans, or shielings, and are basic, small sod buildings used by younger residents in the area when they took the cattle out to summer pasture.
As you prepare for this ride before your trip, get on your hardtail mountain bike and practice on beat up roads, land rover tracks, deer tracks, and beaches to experience the varying ground you’ll pass on the Outer Hebrides. There will likely be some spots where you’ll need to hop off and push, but simply use that time to take it all in!
The prevailing winds will generally be from the Southwest, so if you plan to cycle the length of the islands it’s best to start from Barra or Uist and complete the ride on Lewis itself. Check the forecast just before you head out, and keep the winds in mind, using them to your advantage.
The locals are some of the friendliest you will ever find, so tap into their local knowledge of the region. They may know of some secret paths you would never find on your own accord, or some fun local event going on.
There are five major routes to consider as you prepare to go:
There is so much to explore in the Outer Hebrides, and there is truly no better way to appreciate the area and immerse yourself in it than experiencing it via bike. And while you can rent all of the mountain biking gear you need once you arrive, you could always bring your own if you have a folding bike that you want to ride.
For trout or salmon fishers few places in the world offer as many great fishing opportunities as Scotland. Trout fishing is one of the most popular activities in Scotland. There are many regions of this beautiful country where trout fishing is part of daily life. From the North Coast to the south of Scotland the fishing is excellent.
The North West coast is considered exceptional for trout fishing. This region has thousands of lochs and rivers offering ideal natural conditions and habitats for this cold water loving fish. Trolling is the recommended method in most parts of this region, the many lochs are perfect for small boat fishing, Brown trout are prevalent in this region.
The Carron Valley Reservoir located in central Scotland is considered by many to be one of the best trout fishing locations in the country. The Katrine and Venachar lochs are not only beautiful; the trout fishing is outstanding. This region is home to the famous Inverness, Laidon, and Leven lochs. If you prefer river or stream fishing, there are hundreds of trout filled rivers and streams awaiting you.
The south of Scotland also offers excellent fishing for trout. The many cold water streams and rivers found in this region often provide record breaking fish for the angler. Fishers who prefer lake fishing will enjoy a day on Galloway, Renfrewshire, Pentland Hills, and many other beautiful clear, cold lakes. Not to be overlooked, there are over 700 islands in Scotland, the fishing opportunities offered around these islands are varied and many.
It makes little difference where you choose to fish, Scotland will offer you one of the best trout fishing adventures anywhere. Bait and tackle shops are easy to find, and the locals are friendly and more than happy to assist you, guide services are readily available. While there are year-round trout fishing locations, the open season runs from March to October.
Scotland is also a popular destination for salmon fishers. The country has hundreds of waterways where these beautiful fish flourish, these waterways are considered by many to be the best salmon fishing in Europe. These waterways vary from large fast moving rivers to small streams and tributaries that offer excellent salmon fishing. The rivers are laid out in sections, called beats, the landowners on either side of the river control the area that runs through their property, and consequently, the cost of your salmon permit will vary from one beat to the next. The number of licenses is usually limited to 6 to 8 per day, depending on the length and width of the beat. You can expect to pay more from the middle of June until the end of the season. Salmon season in Scotland runs from mid-January through the end of October. Salmon fishing is not allowed on Sunday.
The visiting fisherman will find many guide services that will provide instruction, tackle, reels and lines, safety vest, waders and will make sure you land that big salmon. Or, pack your best fly fishing reels so you’re ready to go when you land. If you are thinking about a fishing vacation and love to fish for trout and salmon, Scotland should be high on your list.
Orkney has a rich history and many beautiful sights and a lot to see, here are some of the top things to visit when in Orkney. Below we’ll share some of the top things for you to do on your visit to the island.
Ring of Brodgar, this is one of the areas most visited attractions. These large stones have been reported to be one of the most photographed things in Orkney. Estimated to be built 2500-2000 BC, there is simply no known fact on why it was built, which only adds to its mystery. On Thursdays at 1 pm there is a free guided tour to see the massive stones.
Broch of Gurness was once an Iron Age settlement. A place of power, it was a small town that was built around a massive Broch tower. It is open from April to September, from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm with an admission fee of £5.50 for adults £3.30 for children and a concession of £4.40.
The Italian Chapel, is one of Orkney’s major tourist attractions, bringing in around 100,000 people every year. The chapel itself put together by artist Domenico Chiocchetti, who was tasked with putting two Nissan tents together to make the chapel.The Chapel is open to tourists for a fee of £3.00 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Operating hours will depend on the time of year you go, mid-March, April and October 10-4pm and Sunday 12-3pm. June, July, August 9-6pm, 7 days a week. May, September 9-5pm and Sunday 12-4pm. November, December, January, February until mid-March 10 – 1 pm, 6 days a week, closed on Sundays.
Orcadian Wildlife, for the wildlife lover, this tour is an excellent tour. Open from April to October, and the tour guides actually live there. Tour groups are small, eight at most, as to cater to the guest more, and they listen to what you want to see. The holidays are all-inclusive and repeat guests are given discounts.
Take a guided tour: there are many guided tours to choose from, including a personal guide and anything from large buses to vans, and boats, there are many ways to see as much as Orkney as possible. It will all depend on your personal preference and budget to see which guided tour will work best for you.
Scuba diving, some of the scuba diving options here, such as Scapa Scuba offers a try a dive, options for those who have never dived before. The try a dive is a half day that is open to everyone 10 and older. The dive is around several shipwrecks.The cost is £85 per person for one dive and £150 per person for two dives and no prior experience is required.
Gaira Driving Ponies are a fun way to see the area in a horse drawn carriage. Run by a husband and wife team, they will take you on a pleasant ride to a small cafe for a break. Anyone with any prior horse experience can have a turn taking the reigns. Also offered is a safe children’s session where children get to groom and harness a pony and then take turns holding the reigns in a safe field. Prices will vary depending on what booking you make.
Orkney is an archipelago that is located in the Northern Atolls of Scotland. In terms of size, Orkney is 10 miles north of the Caithness Coast. It consists of 70 islands, and 20 of them are inhabited. The largest mainland has an area equivalent to 202 square miles. This makes it a place suitable for human settlement as well as a location for administrative centers. Also, the islands of Orkney are divided into groups, the South and North Isles. All of these isles have the original geological base of the Old Red Sandstone. The soil in these islands are extremely fertile for farming activities, and the climate is a little bit mild. According to the people of Orkney, one of the active economic activities is agriculture. Besides farming, Orkney has sites for tourism attractions. These sites have been attracting a lot of travelers from all over the world.
Stromness is a cute village found within the Orkney’s Islands. It has a waterfront hub that is surrounded by streets of trimmed stones. When you visit the village, you will have the sense of being in the old world again. The village has craftspeople and artists who have shops selling the arts made out of the charm that is surrounding the place. Stromness is a place where tourists will always visit when looking forward to experiencing an artistic pulse.
Food and Drinks
Orkney is the best place to visit for quality food and drinks. This is contributed by the fertile land that has greatly favored agricultural activities in the islands. The wealthy food treats that are provided by Orkney include eponymous cheddar, bountiful local seafood, and Orkney Gold Beef. When it comes to drinks, Orkney is known for Scapa, Highland Park (Whisky distillery), and superb ales that are produced by Orkney Brewery.
This is the hilliest island in Hoy, which has become a spectacular site for tourism activities. Travelers usually visit the site to experience great climbing activity. The place is also known for having the engaging war museum. It has a 137 m high rock that is stack next to the surrounding water body of the island. The rock was not captured by any man until late 1966. This is the reason why it is called the Old Man of Hoy.
Skara Brae is an abandoned village that is fronted by the extensive Atlantic beach. This is a place where every first visitor will never forget. It is preserved beautifully in the dunes. The village illustrates how the ancestors of Orkney used to live 5000 years ago.
Neolithic Orkney is a prehistoric site that is surrounded by Brodgar ring, which is made of a stone circle. The ring is also made of the mighty Stenness Stones and Maes Howe. Inside Neolithic Orkney is made of recent graffiti. Maes Howe was left in Neolithic Orkney by the Vikings, and it has developed into a spectacular tourism site. This is the place that the sun burst into during winter.
Scotland is one of the must visit places in the world. It is best known for its wonderful culture not to mention the amazing islands in it. It has been voted as the most fascinating and beautiful country by Rough Guides readers. Nevertheless, what brings most people to Scotland is the Islands. So, here is a glimpse of some of the reasons why you should visit Scotland’s Islands.
Are you a lover of outdoor activities? Scotland Islands are a great place for you to visit. In most of the Islands such as Orkney, Lewis, and Harris among more, you can engage in activities such as surfing, climbing, bird watching, hill walking and golfing among other activities.
Additionally, the pounding ocean provides you with an opportunity to fish and sail among other water sporting activities.
If you happen to visit Islands such as the Hebrides and Harris, you will be fascinated by the amazing landscapes as well as the fantastic view of the ocean. From a beach in Harris Island, you can be able to see the mountains of North Harris, pure white sand, and turquoise seas. As you drive along the beach, it ‘s hard to deter your eyes from the beautiful scenery on the island.
Who would not want to visit award winning islands? Scotland has some of the best-reviewed islands such as the Orkney Islands. In 2014, Orkney Island was among the top five best Islands in the world due to its spectacular scenery not to mention the historic attractions.
Orkney Island is home to the famous Italian Chapel, Hoy, and Stromness which is the most beautiful village on the island. Do not miss out on such incredible beauty.
There is no fascinating place which has no good food or drinks. As mentioned earlier, Scotland is known for its amazing culture. The different cultures brought by the people living in the various islands ensure that the foods and drinks are diverse. You can get just any dish you like including local seafood.
Islands such as the Hebrides has some of the oldest houses. While on this island, you get to see the Dun Carloway and aCllanish Stones which are houses made from very historic building materials. Also, you will get to see some of the blockhouses such as the Arnol Blackhouse. Additionally, while in Orkney island you will be able to see the famous Heart of Neolithic Orkney which is pre-historic site left by the Vikings.
If you are looking to take your loved ones for a vacation, the Scotland islands are the best since they provide you with everything you may need. You have a beach to visit, various activities to engage in and places to visit. However, your vacation cannot be a success without good accommodation facilities.
Luckily, in all the Islands, there are different restaurants which you can book in advance. For example, in Orkney, you can stay in Whitefalls Spa Lodges.
Scotland Islands will give you an experience like no other. Therefore, regardless of your preference, you can be sure that you will have fun while in Scotland.