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The Outer Hebrides

Thirty miles off the North West coast of Scotland lie the Outer Hebrides, an idyllic chain of over 40 islands that offers spectacular coastline, stunning mountain scenery, abundant wildlife and a rich and vibrant culture. Each holds its own individual charm and rich history. The Atlantic facing coast is home to some of the finest white sandy beaches while the east coast is deeply indented with a maze of impressive lochs and anchorages.

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Why we love this sailing ground

An Island Chain on the Edge of an Ocean

The warm waters of the Gulf Stream mean that we regularly see dolphins, seals, whales and basking sharks in the waters around the Outer Hebrides. The area is rich in seabirds including gannets, shearwaters, puffins, fulmars, guillemots, razorbills, sea eagles, gulls and terns. On land keep an eye for soaring Gold and white tailed eagles around the cliffs, deer and otters.

The Hebrides derive their name from the Norse (Viking) word Havbrodoy meaning on the edge of the sea, but they were inhabited long before the Norse Era. Pliny called them Hebudes, and Ptolemy in the 2nd century wrote of the Eboudai islands above Ivernia (Ireland).

Like the Great Barrier Reef, the chain of Outer Hebridean islands runs parallel to the Scottish mainland and protects it from ocean storms. The Atlantic facing coast is an almost continuous strand of sand dunes and machair (grass) whilst the east coast is deeply indented with a maze of islets and anchorages.

This is Scotland - Spot the gaff cutter in the Outer Hebrides
Spot the gaff cutter in the Outer Hebrides

Sailing & Wildlife Voyages - We call them expeditions

Sailing voyages in the Outer Hebrides are like expeditions in style. Lead to sparsely inhabited islands, tiny fishing villages, deep lochs and rugged cliffs that will be appealing to nature lovers looking for puffin, sea and white tailed eagles, whales and other cetaceans.

The hundreds of islands of the Hebrides have their own character, are very isolated and therefore communities are entirely self-reliant. This area is rich in seabirds, which usually breed on the steep cliff faces. You will visit unique places that cannot be reached by anything but boat or ship.

The waters surrounding the Hebrides and St Kilda are rich in plankton and fish. During the crossings between the different islands the chances are high that you will spot whales and seals.

Visit the mountainous landscape of Harris or North Uist famous for its stunning beaches and rich birdlife.  South Uist offers impressive lochs, dispersed crofts and endless beaches.

standing stones on Lewis
standing stones on Lewis

Lewis has a captivating history and rich in culture and traditions, with many small lochs and moorlands. Barra and Vatesay lie on the southern tip and are famous for beautiful beaches. A special place to visit by boat, it has become a favourite of many sailors. The impressive anchorage between Helisay and Gighay is a great location. The secluded entrance opens up to reveal fantastic mountain vistas.

"Sailing in the Western Isles of Scotland is one of the best ways of exploring these remote islands. You do not have to worry about accommodation, it’s close to nature but cosier than camping!"

Sail to the The Shiant Islands

The Shiant Islands are rich in birdlife, with thousands arriving in summer to breed. My favourites are the puffins which are on gentle grassy slopes when you land on these uninhabited islands. You can photograph them easily without having to go near precipitous cliffs. The author Adam Nicolson inherited these islands and wrote a book about it called 'Searoom'

Tall ship Tecla in the Shiants - surrounded by Puffins
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