Author: Kathryn GerkenInternational Destination

Islands of Scotland

IMG_2204This past summer, I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks in Scotland. Scotland is one of my favorite destinations to date. This was our second trip to Scotland and this time we were able to explore some of its beautiful islands. We spent a full week on the Island of Islay, which is in the Southern Hebrides. Not only does this island boast 8 different scotch distilleries, it is full of diverse landscapes and friendly locals. If you visit, make sure that you stay long enough to get a feel for all the different areas of the island. There are two main towns with smaller villages dotted around the island. The “larger” towns of Bowmore and Port Ellen have grocery stores and restaurants, as well as, gas. You can access the island by the Cali-Mac ferry. Explore the white sand beaches that can be accessed through lovely hikes across the moors, while visiting with the sheep. View an ancient Celtic Church ruins with Celtic crosses or contemplate the mysteries of the standing stones that dot the landscape. While there, we rented a house for the week, but there are many options for hotels, B&B’s and local inns. Like many areas of Scotland, Islay has both double track paved roads, one lane in each direction, and single track roads. While these may seem intimidating at first, they are easily managed and you don’t have to remember which side of the road to drive on!

The next leg of our journey, took us to the Outer Hebrides. We began on the southern island of Barra and island hopped all the way to the northern most and largest island of Lewis. None of these islands offer the same views nor the same experiences. Many have Stone circles, great hiking and fabulous beaches. Each has its unique history and sites. The islands are accessed by ferry crossing or plane from Glasgow. The seas can be a bit rough, since you are crossing open water, but the ships are well equipped and comfortable. I think my favorite island in the outer Hebrides that we were on was the Isle of Harris. This island is literally separated into an east and west section by a rocky boundary. The eastern side looks like a moonscape and the western side is lush and has some great beaches. Hiking is a must, along with a stroll to the McLeod Standing Stone.

Once back on mainland Scotland, life and traffic pick up to a slow trot rather than a Sunday stroll. Where ever you decide to visit in Scotland, you will be welcomed by great people and awesome landscapes throughout the country.

Interested in going? Contact me for our next webinar on Destination Scotland.

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