Scottish Island Round-up
The role of the coast of Scotland can’t be underestimated: It’s amazing how recently sea transport was the main connection even for mainland communities – and there is one village on the mainland still with no road access.
I’m also a kayaker so I send up on island a lot – regardless of where the wind blows from there is always a sheltered side.
So this is a quick roundup working from north to south
It’s some effort to get there – half way to Norway – these islands have a character of their own. The most famous built site is Jarlshof https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/jarlshof-prehistoric-and-norse-settlement/
The various Up Hella Ya events adds excitement over the winter. http://www.shetland.org/
With Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, Maes Howe and other sites, the temptation is to hit the ‘hot spots’ possibly on a day tour from John O’Groats. But a longer stay will allow time to explore this group of islands and appreciate this very special environment. http://www.visitorkney.com/
Western Isles Lewis/Harris, North and South Uist, Benbecula, Eriskay, Barra:
Each has their own character shaped by geography, religion and their status as the bastion of Gaelic. Lewis/Harris has Callanish as the major draw alongside the spectacular beach of Luskentyre. But the southern islands have a different character again all the way to the fantastic Barra Castle. Hop the length! http://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/
Almost everyone has heard of Skye and the iconic Cullins. As well as the spectacular scenery (and you can’t avoid that whichever peninsula you explore), there are castles, iron age archaeology, dinosaur footprints, the highest density of golden eagles in Scotland. Go, stay, explore. And get out onto the sea across to Raasay or to Loch Coruisk from Elgol or … Do arrive and depart by different routes. http://www.skye.co.uk/
Readily accessible from Oban, there is plenty to see and do that justifies more than a day trip. There are well established wildlife tours, the very special place of Iona and boat trips out to the amazing Staffa. Duart Castle commands the Firth of Lorn : a perfect illustraion of the importance of castles to the sea roads. http://www.isle-of-mull.net/
Small Isles: Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna
Between Skye and Mull lies a group of small islands each with an very individual character. Rum is almost entirely a nature reserve, Eigg is a pioneering island since it was bought by its community, Muck is mainly a single farm but supports a population of about 40. Canna is cared for the the National Trust for Scotland and is a haven for sea birds and flowering meadows. Ferry from Mallaig or Arisaig. https://smallisles.wordpress.com/
Famed for beaches and surf, these are small islands on the edge. Benefiting from the gulf steam and without high point to release wet air, these islands claim impressive sunshine records. The ultimate escape. http://visitcoll.co.uk/about-coll/ http://www.isleoftiree.com/
Arran is a delighful island and if time doesn’t permit the further out islands, Arran will repay a visit. If you wish you can hop on via Ardrossan and hope off in summer to the Mull of Kintyre to continue a tour along the west coast. http://www.visitarran.com/
Islay and Jura is famed for its distilleries and Jura for the Corryvreckan whirlpool at it northern point. Colonsay is covered in wildflowers and Oransay has the only priory that rivals Iona. Hop on via Kennacraig, Kintyre and hop off to Oban. http://www.islayinfo.com/ http://isleofjura.scot/ http://www.colonsay.org.uk/
Smaller islands – think about a trip if you are within reach.
Clyde : Bute, Great Cumbrae
West : Gigha, Luing, Seil/Easedale, Kerrera, Lismore
North : Fair Isle between Orkney and Shetland
Forth: May, Incholm