Wildlife of the Western Isles
The Wild Islands of the West - Lewis, Harris, the Uists and Skye.
This very popular programme includes eight nights in the Western Isles exploring the gentle landscape of island crofts, the mysterious standing stones and brochs of the past and the dazzling Atlantic beaches, rocky coves and headlands of Lewis, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist returning via Uig on the Isle of Skye.
It is the perfect ‘get away from it all’ programme at a time of the summer when the islands are full of exciting wildlife, wild flowers are blooming and corncrakes are still singing. It is a journey back in time through some of Britain’s most remote communities.
Stornoway, Dun Carloway & Callanish
Guests will be met in Inverness and taken by bus to Ullapool to catch the early morning ferry to Stornoway harbour on Lewis. Book into the hotel and then head straight to Dun Carloway.
Built some time in the last century BC, Dun Carloway would have served as an occasional defensible tower for an extended family complete with accommodation for animals at ground floor level. It would have been a visible statement of power and status in the local area. We will also see the blackhouses built just below the broch.
Near the village of Callanish on a ridge of land above Loch Roag, is one of the more remote and important stone circles in the British Isles. The Stones were quarried and erected at the site between 2900 - 2600 BC (Neolithic) but there were also earlier structures at the site.
The coast road passes many fresh water lochs and moors frequented by golden eagles, peregrines and buzzards. We have the opportunity to walk in an area which is the one most attractive parts of Lewis.
Butt of Lewis, Ballantrushal & Barvas
We head north to the Butt of Lewis to see the red brick lighthouse and white foghorn tower before visiting the small harbour at Port of Ness from which the locals go to Sula Sgeir, 41 miles to the north, to harvest guga (young gannet) which is considered quite a delicacy.
On to Eoropie, the restored 12th Century Church of St Moluag, the Barvas wildfowl refuge and the Black House museum at Arnol, which was last occupied in 1964.
North Harris, Tarbert & South Harris
In stark contrast to the bleak moors of Lewis, Harris, so famous for its tweed, is mountainous and rocky, a veritable moonscape of rocks of every colour, containing some of the toughest crofting land in the Isles. We will explore its wild and lonely headlands, its tiny fishing and weaving villages and township of Tarbert and cross by causeway to the island of South Harris.
Visit to a working Croft
Your group leader - Martyn - will take you to his own working croft to explain this ancient way of living and how it works in the modern world - a fascinating insight into land use in the Hebrides today.
Regularly voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Luskentyre has to be seen to be believed. Miles of pristine sandy beaches, sand dunes and a backdrop of stunning mountains make this place very special, but don't expect crowds, there are often just a handful of people on the beach. Bliss!
North Uist, Balranald & Barpa Langass
North Uist is very flat and covered with a patchwork of peat bogs, low hills and lochans, more than half the land being covered with either fresh or sea water it provides some very unusual and complex habitats.
We visit Balranald, an RSPB nature reserve for corncrakes, arctic terns, corn bunting and waders. We visit the most impressive and best preserved chambered cairn in the Western Isles at Barpa Langass cairn and the stone circle, Pobull Fhinn.
The west coast has twenty miles of almost unbroken sandy beach. We explore the white shell sand backed by dunes and the springy grass of the machair and learn about Colonel Gordon of Cluny, who in 1838 cleared the islands for sheep, evicting over a thousand crofters and forcing emigration to the USA.
Ferry to Uig & the Isle of Skye
We will take the ferry from Lochmaddy to Uig and spend the the last day exploring Skye. We drive across the Trotternish Peninsula and the Quirang heading for the Skye capital, Portree with its appealing natural harbour where sea eagles are often seen.
Kyle of Lochalsh to Aigas
We take the scenic drive through the high mountains of the western mainland and return to Inverness.
All Aigas holidays are all inclusive. The single supplement on this week is £200.