The Outer Hebrides – also called the Western Isles – have always been a popular road trip and cycling destination, but in May 2017 a new long-distance hiking route opened which spans 155 miles from Vatersay in the south to Lewis in the north. In summer 2018, I hiked the Hebridean Way on my own and discovered the Outer Hebrides on foot. This is a complete guide to everything you need to know about hiking the Hebridean Way: how to prepare and what to pack, where to stay and eat, what to see off the trail and of course, how to navigate this path across one of the remotest places in Scotland!


My trip was supported by Vaude with gifted camping equipment, CalMac with complimentary ferry tickets and VisitScotland who covered my accommodation in Stornoway. All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which I may make a commission from.


Disclaimer: Always check local travel guidelines and restrictions, especially when it comes to visiting Scottish isles and other remote areas post-Coronavirus.

 

Hebridean Way FAQ

Where is the Hebridean Way?

The Hebridean Way is a long-distance hiking trail in the Outer Hebrides, an archipelago off the north-west coast of Scotland. It covers 10 islands (Vatersay, Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray, Harris and Lewis) and runs from Vatersay in the south to Stornoway on Lewis in the north.

The islands, also called the Western Isles, are one of the remotest places in Scotland and one of the only places where Scottish Gaelic is still spoken frequently as a first language.

Hebridean Way Map

Getting to and from the Hebridean Way

It is very easy to get to the Outer Hebrides from Glasgow or Edinburgh, however, it takes time. Flying is the fastest option, but with the weather, it is more reliable to go by boat – since flights are cancelled more frequently than ferry crossings.

I took a train from Glasgow to Oban, and from there the 5-hour CalMac ferry to Castlebay on Barra. On the way back, I decided to take the CalMac ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool and from there the bus to Inverness and the train back to Glasgow.

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A CalMac ferry in the harbour of Eriskay.

If you follow my route, it’s best to buy the Hopscotch 8 ticket, which includes all 4 ferry rides you need along the Way between Oban and Ullapool.

There are also several other CalMac ferry connections to the mainland along the way, which are particularly useful if you want to hike the Hebridean Way in stages, or plan to spend more time on any of the other isles after completing the hike: Mallaig to Lochboisdale (South Uist), Uig (Skye) to Lochmaddy (North Uist) Uig (Skye) to Tarbert (Harris).

HOOKED ON ISLAND HOPPING? The best Scottish Islands to Visit

 

How long is the Hebridean Way?

The Hebridean Way is currently 156 miles (252 km) long. There are plans to extend the path to the Butt of Lewis, adding another 30 miles or so, but at the moment the trail ends officially at Lews Castle in Stornoway.

How long does it take to walk the Hebridean Way?

You could spend weeks on the Hebridean Way, exploring the islands in great detail and going on and off the trail as you please. However, the minimum you should plan for the whole hike is 10 days – the guidebook I used for the trail uses this as a default.

The book also includes a suggestion for an 8-day itinerary, but unless you are an experienced long-distance hiker, I don’t see how you would be possible to walk 156 miles in 8 days.

Personally, I allowed myself 12 days to complete the Hebridean Way, plus a rest day in the middle. I planned my own itinerary based on the 10 stages described in the guidebook, but you could also use the itinerary suggested on the official Hebridean Way website as a guideline.

In total, I spent 16 days in the Outer Hebrides, including an additional day on Lewis in the end and two days of travelling to and from the islands.

Which way – north or south?

Considering the weather, it is most logical to hike the Hebridean Way from south to north. Firstly, because the wind usually blows in a northerly direction, so you won’t have to fight with many headwinds walking in the same direction.

Secondly, if the sun is out, you want it in your back, rather than your face. This is better for photography and protects your face from sunburn.

That said, I have also met a few hikers who walked the Hebridean Way north to south, and it is absolutely possible.

 

Mountain views in the Bays of Harris.

How much does it cost to walk the Hebridean Way?

Walking holidays can be super budget-friendly, especially if you carry a tent and do it all self-organised.

Campsites cost between ยฃ7 and ยฃ10, which includes access to washrooms and freshwater facilities, sometimes even a kitchen. Many campsites also have laundry facilities which are available for a small fee.

I spent around ยฃ600 on my two week holiday, which includes additional equipment I bought before the trip, all food, campsite fees and accommodation, trains and ferries etc.

I could have probably saved here and there, for example by wild camping more often and not going to local pubs for celebratory drinks after hard sections – but when I’m on holidays (especially walking holidays) I like to treat myself!

Additional costs not included in this breakdown are my day trip to St Kilda and the rental car I got to spend a day on the Isle of Lewis.

 

Can I book a walking holiday?

There are a number of tour companies that offer walking holidays in the Outer Hebrides, some cover the whole length of the Hebridean Way, others do it in stages. They offer certainly a lot more comfort than individual hiking with a tent.

They include B&B accommodation, luggage transfers and transfers between accommodation and the trail, but they are also accordingly more expensive and your route is less flexible than if you go independently.

Carrying my big backpack through the mountains of Harris along the Hebridean Way.

How hard is it to walk the Hebridean Way?

Overall, the Hebridean Way might be long, but the trail is fairly easy to walk for beginners. The Hebrides are pretty flat and a lot of the trail leads along the coastline or across flat moorland.

The crux lies not necessarily in the elevation you gain, but rather in the terrain, you have to cross. Some parts of the trail lack an actual path, and you have to cut your own way across the moor, the bog or down hillsides, so it will still be physically challenging at times.

Additionally, there is quite a bit of road walking involved – more than I would call pleasant. Walking on the hard tarmac for miles on end can be hard on your body and your mind – prepare accordingly or alternatively, take the bus.

 

A scenic section of road walking on Harris.

Is the Hebridean Way marked?

In the creation of the Hebridean Way, funding from the EU’s Regional Development Fund was used to improve the infrastructure along the trail. Footbridges were built and waymarkers put up – you can recognise these by the round white disks that carry the Hebridean Way logo.

In general, the Way is very easy to follow as there are plenty of signposts along it. The Way makes use of existing trails wherever possible, but sometimes you are left on your own and simply have to make your own way from post to post.

Apart from higher up in bad weather conditions, it was always easy to see the next post. The only times I had issues were in the hills on Barra (stage 1) and the hillside above Seilebost (stage 8), but even there I managed without having to navigate by map & compass.

A waymarker for the Hebridean Way on Harris.

However, I did get the sense that moving from south to north, they slowly started running out of 4x4s and logo disks, as there are fewer signposts on Harris and Lewis, than on the southern islands.

In the beginning, there were two disks on each post, roughly corresponding with the direction of the path, but later on, there was often only one disk, either north or south facing. Sometimes the disk was also facing the trail, which made it hard to rely on the posts giving any sense of direction anymore when there was not an actual path.

Additionally, there were signposts indicating distances at prominent points along the trail. These were really helpful in gauging how much further it would be to my day’s endpoint and estimating how well I had progressed throughout the day.

Again on Harris and Lewis, the path creators seemed to have lost interest in making these really helpful and there were much fewer distance markers than in the south. One day, in particular, stood out to me (stage 9) when the distance markers just presented a countdown to Tarbert, rather than telling you the distance to the next useful point (like any of the villages you come past that day).

It’s not the end of the world, but it is a lost opportunity to make the Way more enjoyable.

Is there a Hebridean Way guidebook?

There is a hiking guidebook for the Hebridean Way published by Cicerone. You can get it easily on Amazon or download it to your phone. The book describes the trail in 10 stages with additional options for doing the route in 8 or 14 days. It contains general information about the trail and logistics, offers some listings of infrastructure and accommodation along the way and includes detailed trail descriptions.

Unfortunately, the guidebook is not without faults though. It was written before the official opening of the route in 2017 and does not contain updates of the most recent changes to the route (for example on Scarista beach, or the route leaving Laxay).

Some details, like the colour of the signposts along the Harris Walkway (which is now part of Heb Way), are described inaccurately and the listings of accommodation and cafes/shops on the Way miss obvious highlights (like the Kilbride Cafe or Vigadale House) while mentioning others (like a pub on Eriskay you come past way before open hours).

Furthermore, the distance markers given in the book do not always correspond with the distance markers posts along the route, so that it becomes difficult to gauge which one is correct.

Nevertheless, the book is a valuable source for the trail. It gives information about what terrain to expect, where to turn when waymarkers have fallen over or were damaged by weather or wildlife, and adds plenty of additional information about the trail and the Isles.

Get the Cicerone guidebook HERE!

 

A distance marker post near Stornoway.

Walking the Hebridean Way solo as a woman

Maybe the most “shocking” aspect of my trek on the Hebridean Way for most people was that I would do it on my own. A woman walking and camping solo in the middle of nowhere at the edge of Scotland – was that even safe?

The short answer is yes, it is absolutely safe! The Outer Hebrides are a faraway place and the already low crime rate of Scotland is even lower in the Western Isles. I had no reservations about walking the Hebridean Way on my own as a woman and did not feel unsafe at any given moment during my trek.

I met very few walkers along the way, but many cyclists and road trippers, especially when I stayed at hostels or campsites. Many of them I met several times so that I felt like I always had someone there to rely on – who would ask for me if I did not show up.

Travel writer and hiker Kathi Kamleitner outside her tent on the Hebridean Way in Scotland.

When I wild camped, I was always entirely on my own and I would not see a soul for hours. I made it a point to tell fellow travellers about my plans, again, so that in case anything happened someone would know about my whereabouts.

I also gave my partner a detailed itinerary and let him know about any changes to my plan. In the tent I was never scared – only once I wondered what that noise was, only to realise that it was the long grass in the dunes scratching against my tent in the wind. Very scary – for 5 seconds.

People are still so worried about women travelling on their own, even more so when it’s an adventure trip like my solo hike on the Hebridean Way. But in fact, I met many other women on the trail, hiking and cycling, who were doing it all by themselves – and every single one of them loved it!

Hebridean Way Trail Descriptions

As mentioned above, I walked the Hebridean Way in 12 stages and walked an average of 13 miles (20.5 km) per day. I kept very closely to the suggested routes from the Cicerone hiking guidebook but slightly changed the sections across the Uists and Benbecula as well as my overnight destinations on Harris.

The main reason for this was, that the book suggested three very long consecutive days to cross Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist. I knew though, that I would not be able to walk 21-22 miles three days in a row and decided to cover this section in five days instead. On Harris, I adapted the route to work better with potential overnight stops, campsites and hostels along the way.

My 12 stages were:

  • Stage 1: Vatersay & Barra, 14 miles / 22km
  • Stage 2: Erisaky to Askernish, 13 miles / 21 km + detour to the shop in Daliburgh
  • Stage 3: Askernish to Driomor, 13 miles / 21 km
  • Stage 4: Driomor to Linacleite, 13 miles / 21 km
  • Stage 5: Linacleite to Carinish, 12 miles / 20 km
  • Stage 6: Carinish to Lochmaddy, 12 miles / 20 km
  • Stage 7: Lochmaddy to Berneray, 10 miles / 17 km
  • Stage 8: Leverburgh to Seilebost, 14 miles / 22 km
  • Stage 9: Seilebost to Drinishader, 9 miles / 15 km
  • Stage 10: Drinishader to Bowglass, 15 miles / 24 km
  • Stage 11: Bowglass to Laxay, 15 miles / 24 km
  • Stage 12: Laxay to Stornoway, 14 miles / 22 km

At the end of each stage, it was easy to find accommodation, either by wild camping, pitching at a campsite or in a hostel. The only place where I booked a B&B was Bowglass since there were no campsites/hostels in the area and the rocky and hilly landscape of Harris is not the most suitable for wild camping.

Check out my detailed 12-day Hebridean Way route!

The end point of the Hebridean Way walking route in Stornoway.

Hebridean Way Accommodation

Since I was carrying my tent with me, I made use of campsites or wild camped wherever I could. At most endpoints of the stages described above, you will be able to find B&B or hotel accommodation either immediately on the trail or not too far away.

If your accommodation is a few miles off the trail, you might want to take the bus or arrange transfers with your hosts/taxis, since adding a couple of miles in the morning and the evening can really wear you down.

If you follow the guidebook’s 10-day itinerary, you will be able to do the Hebridean Way entirely without camping, but since that requires several very long days and accommodation might be limited (especially during high season) I highly recommend bringing a tent.

By camping, you are a lot more flexible and independent and you can change your plans at the very last minute without running into cancellation fees. With long-distance hiking, you never know what the trail throws at you, or which opportunities arrive.

I loved the flexibility I had on my trek thanks to my tent! Plus, it saved me money!

 

Vegan food on the Hebridean Way

Unlike the rest of Scotland, the Outer Hebrides is not particularly vegan-friendly. The local food is all about seafood, meat and dairy, and most cafes or restaurants I came across did not have vegan options upon request.

That said, there were a few welcome exceptions and very accommodating chefs along the way. I found it very easy to walk the Hebridean Way as a vegan and found many other options for food supplies.

Since I knew it would be tricky to get vegan-friendly cooked meals on the Isles (if there was even the option of eating out), I brought a lot of food with me.

Trekking food for dinner on the Hebridean Way.

Breakfast

I carried a week’s worth of porridge with dried fruit, seeds and nuts through it, which I stocked up with oats in Leverburgh. I mixed this with coconut milk powder so that I could prepare it with water without losing the creaminess of a milky porridge.

Lunch

Local shops, especially the Co-ops, always have a “free from” section. I had no issues whatsoever finding vegan-friendly bread, hummus and Trek bars or other vegan-friendly sweeties in any shop. Fresh, packaging-free fruit and veg were always available. I usually carried lunch and snacks for 2 days before restocking at the next shop.

Be aware that most shops and restaurants are closed on Sundays, or have very limited open hours, which means you should stock up before then.

There are shops in Castlebay (Co-op), Dalabrog (Co-op), Lovats, Creagorry (Co-op), Lochmaddy, Berneray, Leverburgh, Tarbert and Stornoway (Co-op, Tesco).

Dinner

I also carried a week’s worth of trekking dinners with me and sent myself another week’s worth to my half-way point on Berneray to re-stock. That meant, I only had to worry about buying lunches on the Isles.

Snacks & drinks

I also brought a small stash of emergency chocolates as well as instant coffee and a few tea bags. In retrospect, I think I could have cut the coffee, as I only had it a few times, and the instant stuff is not satisfying either way.

Eating out

As I said, the local menu primarily consists of seafood and meat, and I found that many vegetarian options contain egg or dairy. However, there are a few things you can usually order, like beans on toast in cafes or cheese-less pizza in hotel restaurants.

Here are some of my favourite eateries from the Hebridean Way:

  • Kilbride Cafe on South Uist,  Stage 2
  • Langass Lodge on North Uist, Stage 6
  • Berneray Bistro & Shop on Berneray, Stage 7
  • Lacklee Community Centre Cafe on Harris, Stage 9
  • Tarbert Community Centre Cafe on Harris, Stage 10
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Travelling Scotland as a vegan

 

And what about water?

I had brought my water filter to be able to fill up my water supplies from local streams without hesitation, but since it had been incredibly warm and dry for months before my trip, there was not much running water I could access.

Instead, I filled my water supply on campsites and at shops along the Way. I did not use my water filter until I reached Harris, and even there it was more to try it, rather than because I needed it.

I had a water system with me which allowed me to carry 4 litres of water, but I never had more than 2.5 L on my back – enough to carry if you ask me. When I could not find a shop or cafe, I also asked locals who were out in their gardens, if it was possible to fill up my water and was never turned away.

The view from the top of Ruaval on Benbecula.

Hebridean Way Packing List

When it comes to packing for long-distance hiking I stick to me well-tested and constantly optimised packing list. Here is a quick overview of what I packed โ€“ for more detail, concrete product recommendations and the contents of my toiletry & first aid kit, consider my full LD packing list!

65L + 10L hiking backpack
1-2 person tent (Vaude Hogen SUL 1-2P)
sleeping system (2-season sleeping bag & a self-inflatable mat by Vaude)

1L bottle of water
3L drinking system
camping stove + 1 gas canister + matches
food & snacks (breakfast & dinner – 1 week; lunch – 2 days)

pair of sturdy hiking boots
3 tops (2 hiking, 1 base layer)
2 bottoms (1 hiking, 1 base layer)
1 fleece cardigan
1 light-weight jacket

waterproofs (jacket and trousers)
1 bathing suit + travel towel
buffs
5x underwear + 2 sport bras 
4 pairs of socks (2 hiking, 1 normal, 1 sleeping)
light-weight trainers

toiletries
first aid kit
sun lotion
sunglasses
small, sharp knife
midge spray & midge net

toilet paper + matches
small cup
whisky flask

Hebridean Way guidebook + pen
Outer Hebrides maps
a book for reading

camera + charger + battery pack

I tried to reduce my pack as much as I could. Every gram counted, especially since I was carrying supplies for a week and a considerable amount of maps. I left my hiking poles at home, and had only one or two occasions where I wished I would have had them on the trail – I’d say it was worth it.

I also reduced my cooking gear down to one gas canister, since it would have been easy enough to refill on the Isles. It turns out, I didn’t even finish the one!

I took out my heavy woollen hat and replaced it with a second light-weight buff for colder days. I didn’t actually need it for my head but used it as a pillow at night (stuffed with my warm jacket and bathing suit for optimal comfort).

I could have saved some more weight, by leaving my book or my swimsuit, but both came in handy, and I was happy I had them!

Enjoying mountain views on Harris in my new colourful base layers.

My solo adventure on the Hebridean Way was a fantastic experience and I am certain that the Hebridean Way will become a very popular long-distance trail in Scotland over time.

It might be a little harder to organise everything in lack of the kind of infrastructure you would find along the West Highland Way, but the unique scenery and the feeling of being away from it all are absolutely worth the effort!

If you have any more questions about hiking the Hebridean Way – alone, with a friend or in a group, let me know in the comments!

***

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This complete Hebridean Way hiking guide contains everything you need to know about hiking in the Western Isles in Scotland: what to pack, where to stay & how to plan your route!

 

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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.

46 thoughts on “The Complete Hebridean Way Hiking Guide

  1. lindsey says:

    Hi again Kathi ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am wondering if you had any tips on learning basic level navigation skills?
    Never used OS maps or a compass before and feel a bit daunted at the thought.
    thanks
    Lindsey

  2. lindsey stirling says:

    Thank you Kathi,
    I read all you have to share on the Heb Way and feel grateful to have found your accounts as I am heading to Scotland end of May and for the first time planning to do a walking trip. I will head to Edinburgh first and spend time reconnecting with family (23 yrs since last been there). I was born there and then emigrated with my family to Australia. Anyway – after Edinburgh I want to get a train to Mallaig then across to the Knoydart Peninsula – Inverie / where then I would like to hike Kinloch Hourn – from there I would like to then get across to the Outer Hebrides (I was thinking of Isle of Skye but has been mentioned it is so over packed with tourists in the high season so thought to leave that to another trip ) and then take a couple of weeks to walk the Heb Way.
    I don’t know if I am being too adventurous – I am 52 years old – but a young 52 fit and healthy. I plan to wild camp, stay in a bothy or two and also hostel and BnB. I would prefer to not have to pre-book everything as if I decide to stay longer in one place don’t want to feel pressured or lose deposits etc…but also aware that it will be early to mid June so not sure. At least I will have a tent! From there it will likely be across to Ullapool – although I would also love to go Mull and Iona as well – not sure about the logistics of that part. Eventually will be heading to Somerset and across to Wales to the Gower region for more fun and walking. Now I leave Australia on the 21May and am booked to fly home on the 5 July. I am sensing I have plenty of time – do you think I am being overambitious?
    Thanks again
    Lindsey

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Lindsey, thanks for your questions!

      I think it this should all work out in 6.5 weeks! Not sure how much time you are spending in Wales of course, but if you plan around 1 week for Edinburgh 1-1.5 weeks for Knoydart and Mull (incl. travel days as trains and ferries will take up some time), 2-2.5 weeks for the Outer Hebrides, that still gives you enough time to spend in Wales!

      I’ve never hiked in Knoydart, but as far as I know, it is important to be able to navigate with map & compass there because it is very remote & there are not always clear trails. From Kinloch Hourn, I’d say, hike back to Inverie and make your way via ferries & boats from Mallaig to Oban.

      From Oban, you can take the ferry to Mull to spend time there and visit nearby islands; and then you can go from Oban to Barra to start the Hebridean Way. Then Ullapool to Inverness to Edinburgh or Glasgow by public transport.

      In terms of booking ahead of time: I recommend bookings trains and longer bus journeys (i.e. Ullapool-Inverness) ahead of time. I did not book the bus from Ullapool to Inverness and almost did not make it on, because it was fully booked. Luckily someone didn’t show up and I could have their seat. For accommodation, definitely book ahead what you can (Edinburgh, potential nights in Mallaig, Inverness, Oban etc). but for hiking trails, if you are happy to camp and have your tent with you, it shouldn’t be necessary. When I hiked the Heb Way, I booked a few things ahead – my first night in the hostel, a night on Harris at a B&B and 2 nights in Stornoway at the end of the walk. I found that very useful!

      Have a fab time planning your trip!

  3. Axel Becker says:

    Hi Kathi,
    Thanks for your great report about the hebridean way. Going to walk it next summer.
    One question. As we’d fly directly into Barra, it’s going to get hard to bring our own fuel for the camping stove (primus gas stove, similliar to the one you’re using). Do you happen to know if there was a store in Castlebay where we could buy gas cartridges?
    Kindest regards,
    Axel

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Axel, there is a Co-op supermarket as well as a well-stocked independent village shop and I’d imagine that either one of them has fuel for a camping stove! Have a fantastic hike in the Hebrides – would love to hear how it went! ๐Ÿ™‚ All the best, Kathi

  4. Sarah says:

    Hi Kathi,

    Iโ€™m so happy I came across your post! Iโ€™d been feeling the โ€˜lure of the wildโ€™ and wanting to spend some time by myself in the Scottish highlands but wasnโ€™t sure where to start! Iโ€™d also considered cycling the Hebridean way and walking it seems like a perfect combination! Whilst not a regular hiker Iโ€™ve done lots here and there and am also very comfortable with camping in campsites. However Iโ€™ve never hiked or camped solo, not have I wild camped before. Are there any short wild camping routes you could recommend to โ€˜break me inโ€™ as it were. And anything youโ€™d recommend me reading/looking into before heading out for the first time?

    I saw your link to the hiking retreat in October which sounds great, however I find myself with time on my hands in September and so am keen to start ASAP!

    Thanks again for some fantastic posts, youโ€™ve really given me the confidence/ kick I needed to actually go out and do it rather than just fantasise/ get caught up in the worries of solo female long distance hiking! Thank you!
    Cheers
    Sarah

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks a lot for your comment and kind words! Before the Heb Way I only solo hike + wild camped once – I did the West Island Way on Bute and it was a wonderful experience. I still very much learnt the ropes as I was going on the Hebrides. Arran is also a great place to get to for a quick hiking trip and wild-camp test; and so are the Arrochar Alps (as long as you respect the camping restrictions there during the summer – national park bylaws). Hope you can join one of my future retreats! Have a great time ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Matt says:

    Hi !
    Really great post and very usefull ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was wondering if I’m going to meet a lot of sheep dogs or other animals which could be annoying while walking on september ?

    Thank you so much !

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Matt, I walked the way in July, so can only base my experience on that time of the year. I had no annoying or distressing animal encounters on the way – apart from flies and midges ๐Ÿ˜‰ The way hardly crosses any enclosed farmland, but in many areas sheep roam freely, so you might see some. I did not come across any sheep dogs! I hope you have a great hike!

  6. Ross says:

    Myself and my OH are going to the Western Isles in August, we’re super excited about it and I’ve really enjoyed reading your experience.

    Out of curiosity, how did you arrange sending your second half of your good supplies out?

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Ross, I pretty much just asked the hostel & B&B if I could send myself a parcel. Then sent it by regular mail and they kept it for me until I arrived! I’d imagine most accommodation owners would be happy to help ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a fantastic trip!!

  7. Patrick says:

    Hi Kathi
    Great account of the trip.Well done indeed.
    WE’re thinking of the first two weeks in October…..Do you think rain would make homeports difficult / impossible?
    cheers Patrick

    • Kathi says:

      I think the weather is always unpredictable, but it will certainly be colder in October, especially if you camp! It’s probably a good idea to alternate camping with hostels or B&Bs so you don’t have to stay out if the weather turns. Have a great hike!!

  8. Beatrix says:

    Is the trail walkable with dog? I walk with tend, so no need for accomodation. But how is the fence situation? Lot’s of fences to climb?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Beatrix, I don’t have any experience personally of walking with a dog, so I don’t know what would make the walk not dog-friendly. There are not really fences to climb, mostly there are gates. There is a bit of road walking, so making sure to have the dog on a lead and safe from traffic is important. There are many sheep on the islands as well as birds, so your dog needs to be well behaved. Also, make sure you comply with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code for dog walking: https://www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot/practical-guide-all/dog-walking Hope this helps!

      • Beatrix says:

        Thanks for the answer. No (barbed) wire fences is what I wanted to hear. For the rest, behaviour and lead, I am already experienced in scotland. Sounds like this will be my next trail when I make it to get more then 2 weeks holidays. Time will be the biggest problem.

        • Kathi says:

          Yeah, no barbed wire as far as I can remember! I hope you have a great trip ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d love to hear from you afterwards and see how it went! Stay in touch!

          • Beatrix says:

            Well, I alredy did the JoG Trail this year, and the Hebridian Way is on my plan for next year. You know, when you come back from a Trail, one needs to find the next challenge to fill the empty part (-:

          • Kathi says:

            Ha ha you speak my truth! I always have another trail to look forward to ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy the Heb Way when the time comes!!

          • Beatrix says:

            Hi Kathi, again me. It seems that the only time I can get more then 2 weeks holidays is in July/August. Guess that this may be the worst midget time. As you did the trail in July, what is your experience? I will walk with my dog, so he might get all the midgets in his fur and into the tend. Am I right?

          • Kathi says:

            Hi Beatrix! I barely had any midges to be honest – only the last night camping on Lewis because I was just by a small loch. It’s important to note though that I hiked the Heb Way in July after a very hot summer – 7 weeks of 25+ degrees – so there were few midges all over the country; horseflies/cleggs were much worse that year because they don’t mind the heat like midges.

            Midges only really come out in the morning and evening, when it’s not too hot and not too windy. You can avoid the worst by not camping near standing water, camping somewhere a bit more exposed (within reason) so that you get a breeze; beaches can be great for that.

            Get a midge net, midge spray like Smidge and maybe let your dog sleep inside the tent, so he doesn’t get bothered by them. I don’t have a dog, so I don’t know whether midges go after them…

            I don’t think midges should hold you back from hiking in Scotland as they are not out all the time and maybe you’re lucky and it’s another hot, dry summer ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great time prepping your hike!

  9. Lina says:

    Hu, thank you so much for your tips! I want to do the Hebridean Way this summer, but as an unexperienced hiker, I only have ca 10 days to complete the walk. Which sections were your favorite ones? Which would you rather have skipped (hard question, I know)?
    Thank you so much in advance!!

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Lina! Hm, that is difficult indeed! My favourite bits were Barra on day 1, my days on Uist on the Machair Way and across the moor to Our Lade of the Isles, and the days I spent on Harris (until I got to the B&B). I wasn’t a huge fan of crossing Benbecula because there was a lot of road walking and I had bad weather on North Uist, so I didn’t find it too exciting. The last two days on Lewis were also not mind-blowing, especially the 9 miles of road walking at the end… Hope this helps and you have a great time on the Hebridean Way! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. James Forbes says:

    Hi There,
    Planning to walk the “way” in summer this year. All accommodation and transport to Barra booked but we are in an age group who would benefit from luggage transfer. I noted your earlier comment about B&Bs. We are mostly staying at hotels for ease of evening meals etc. Do you think the various taxi services are reliable and would be up for a moving the luggage? For a fee obviously, as they do on some of the other Scottish long distance routes. We’ve completed 3 so far but looking forward to this one the most.

    James

    • Kathi says:

      Hi James, good for you – it’s a fantastic walk! I’m not sure – you would certainly have to get in touch with at least 3 taxi companies as they are unlikely to operate across ferries. If there’s a few of you it might not even be so expensive, but it might still be a slightly unusual request. That said as the Hebridean Way grows in popularity, I think taxi companies would lose out on a great opportunity if they turn you away! Another option of course would be to hike the walk in day sections and at the end of each day get a taxi or bus back to accommodation where you stay for a few nights. I met a man on the trail last summer who hiked the sections from South Uist to Berneray and he stayed at hotels in Lochboisdale and Lochmaddy – every day at the end he would return to these for the night! He didn’t have to worry about his luggage whatsoever ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope this helps! Kathi

  11. Lee Breeze says:

    Hi Kathi, thank you for all this. My husband and I plan to walk/bus this this summer once he retires. He’s recently had an operation, so we are interested in the idea of carrying a small rucksack each and arranging baggage transfer. How does that work? Would we need to contact individual b and b’s to see if they would help? thank you

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Lee, as far as I know there is no baggage transfer service along the Heb Way like you would get at the West Highland Way. I could imagine though that you might be able to arrange individual transfers with B&Bs! People are very helpful! Or you could have a home base and get to the beginning or end point of sections by public transport each day. I met a man on the trail who did that! He was based in Lochboisdale for a few days and then in Lochmaddy and took the bus to and from the hotels! He only hiked the southern part of the trail but it imagine you could achieve the same by basing yourself in Leverburgh, Tarbert and Stornoway for the northern section. Maybe easier to organise! Hope this helps in planning your trip ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Andrew Cannon says:

    Hi, nice account, found via Twitter. I walked the trail in May, my journal is at oldieoutdoors.com
    Whether the Polly is open depends on what time you go past it! I found it completely straightforward buying ferry tickets on the boats, not sure why you’d need some fancy advance ticket -?
    Your list of the most important discrepancies in the Cicerone book is spot on, all those fooled me! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I wasn’t that lucky with the weather but it’s a great walk, pleased to see your detailed account, all good wishes A

    • Kathi says:

      Heya Andrew, thanks for your comment – I’ll go check out your journal! It’s always nice to see/hear/read someone else’s experience on this trail. I’m a planner, so I preferred having my tickets booked and organised in advance – it’s not necessary and I think it’s the same price, but I somehow felt more organised that way. It’s such a great walk – an experience of a lifetime! Cheers, Kathi

  13. jody says:

    Great account of your trip! What month did you hike it in? Thanks so much! Iโ€™m going to get the guidebook & start planning !!!

    • Kathi says:

      I walked in the last two weeks of July 2018! I’m so happy I could inspire you to walk it too – let me know how you get on and if you plan to document your hike in any way publicly (like an Instagram I can follow)! x

  14. Journeys2Scotland says:

    Absolutely inspiring account of your trip! You write so clearly and full of wonderful details. I am a little overwhelmed by the length of the trail but I am encouraged by your advice. First class post on what to expect and what to do and bring. ~ Alison

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Alison, thanks for your comment and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! The good thing about the Heb Way is, that’s it’s very easy to walk it in stages. It meets the main road frequently and from there you can just catch the bus. I recommend the section across Harris – all from Leverburgh to Achnamore (on Lewis)!

  15. Ioanna says:

    What a great trail! Thank you, Kathi, for the detailed description! I was thinking about hiking the islands, but back two years ago when I was planning my Scottish adventure, there wasn’t enough info on it. I want to see the Hebrideans and maybe I could go next year!

    Happy hiking,
    Ioanna
    A Woman Afoot

    • Kathi says:

      I feel you! I felt quite underprepared, despite the guidebook – I wanted more personal experience reports, but could not find much. I hope this will help others like you too ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a fantastic walk with its own challenges, but so worth the effort! I hope you get to do it and enjoy it as much as me!!

  16. helen Jamieson says:

    Nice trip to read about- thank you!! I’m about to do the same path on my own – SO looking forward to wild camping again!
    Thanks for the tips – I didn’t know about the ‘4 ferry’ ticket!

    • Kathi says:

      Hi Helen, amazing – you’ll love it, have an amazing time! The ferry ticket is really handy – just make sure you keep the individual tickets dry during your walk! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Maggie says:

    This looks like such a fantastic trek! I’ve always wanted to visit the Hebrides, and this looks like the absolute perfect way to explore them. Thank you for this extremely thorough and helpful guide!

    • Kathi says:

      It was my first time there and I’m so happy I decided to walk rather than road trip! I felt really in touch with the landscape – quite at its mercy to be honest ๐Ÿ˜€ I hope you get to go one day!

  18. Lauren says:

    Your posts always inspire me to get outdoors more as wild camping is my absolute favourite! You capture Scotland’s natural beauty so well and make me so shameful I’ve not seen more of my home country!

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