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Outer Hebrides road trip: Island hopping in a campervan

Outer Hebrides road trip: Island hopping in a campervan

The Outer Hebrides has been on my bucket list for years. The Hebridean islands have beaches that are comparable to the Caribbean, with glistening white sands and clear turquoise waters. If you want to avoid the crowds of the North coast 500 then take a road trip to the Outer Hebrides. The Outer Hebrides, Scotland are so incredibly remote and quiet, and that is the beauty of visiting… you feel like you have the place all to yourself. Take your time to enjoy island hopping the Hebridean way. This is the ultimate guide to taking an Outer Hebrides road trip in a campervan, motorhome or car.

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Where are the Outer Hebrides?

The Outer Hebrides, is also known as the Western Isles, and sit off the West Coast of Scotland. Each island is unique, with white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, diverse wildlife and vibrant culture. They are made up of more than 70 islands, with only 15 inhabited.

How to get to the Outer Hebrides? 

Getting to the Outer Hebrides is easier than you imagine. But be warned, you need to plan ahead. If you are not taking a campervan you can fly from central Scotland.

CalMac offer the ferry service to and around the Outer Hebrides. I advise booking your ferries before you take your road trip to the Outer Hebrides.

There are so many options for Outer Hebrides routes but we took the main ferry from the mainland port of Oban to Barra. The sailing is just short of five hours. We then sailed from Barra to Eriskay and travelled over the Eriskay Causeway to South Uist. 

We travelled up to Oban and booked a campsite near to Oban to break up our journey. We stayed at North Ledaig campsite for one night and this ensured that we were only a few minutes drive to the ferry terminal for our calmac crossing to Barra the next morning.

(Click here for our North Ledaig Campsite review)

There is also a direct sailing to North Uist from Uig ( Isle of Skye) and this crossing takes 1hr 45 mins. 

visiting Outer Hebrides – island hopping in a camper van

Okay so we roughly planned our 1 week itinerary to the Outer Hebrides a few weeks before we left as I was keen to make sure we have the Calmac ferries booked as it was May half term. You can see from the Outer Hebrides map our basic route for the Hebrides island road trip. We had to change our plans last minute due to the Calmac ferry disruptions, and couldn’t make our way over to Lewis and Harris, but instead took a detour over to the Isle of Skye. So here is a ten day Itinerary for exploring the Outer Hebrides in a campervan. What a road trip!

Click here for our outer Hebrides Road trip map

Day 1 driving to Oban

e Wdrove from our home in Staffordshire directly to Oban with roughly two stops along the way. We stopped by at Tebay Services for breakfast. Having visited before and managing to spend about £50 on food, I made sure we were organised and took a takeaway breakfast picnic. There are plenty of benches to sit and have a break, and a dog walking area too.

Our first stop for the night – North Ledaig Caravan site. It is a lovely campsite near to Oban ferry terminal, and this campsite in Scotland has direct access to a shingle beach, great for paddle boarding. (You know how much we love a campsite with a sea view or a campsite with direct access to water!) There is a lovely walk from the campsite, and also a kids play area too.

campsite near to Oban Ferry terminal for an Outer Hebrides road trip

Read our North Ledaig Campsite review

Day 2 – travelling from Oban to Castlebay (Barra)

We had planned our Outer Hebrides road trip to ensure we spent a good amount of time on each island. We really wanted to make sure that we had an opportunity to explore each of the islands in the Outer Hebrides. With three kids and a dog, it is so important to allow for rest days on a road trip.

We took the main Calmac ferry from the mainland port of Oban to Barra. The sailing is just short of five hours and the crossing was great. We booked our dog onto the ferry when we booked our ferry tickets, (pets travel free of charge). Pets are welcome on the outside deck and there are also dog friendly areas on the ferry too.

We arrived at our campsite – Croft no 2, Barra in the evening. We were greeted by the owners and allocated a lovely spacious pitch with an incredible sea view.

What a treat.

We stayed here for three nights to allow us to explore Barra and Vatersay.

staying at The Croft no 2 campsite, Barra - Outer Hebrides road trip

Day 3 -4 Exploring Vatersay and Barra

Driving around Barra is an absolute joy. There are so many gorgeous beaches and places to stop and take it all in. The beach opposite the campsite is only a short stroll and you can take over your paddle boards or enjoy a swim.

The Croft Kitchen Honesty box on the Isle of Barra offers fresh eggs and home baking, and is only a short drive from the campsite (You will see the signs as you drive down from the campsite).

The Croft kitchen honesty box in Barra

Stop by at Barra airport on the North part of the island (Traigh Mhor beach) where you may spot a plane landing if you are lucky!

If you take the causeway over to Vatersay you will find the most incredible beach

Vatersay is the most southerly inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides and is now linked to Barra by a causeway.  Here you will find the most stunning beach – You can check out my stories over on instagram but this beach is perfect for paddle boarding too.

You can also pay to camp here for £10 charge a night. There is a watertap and one disabled toilet.

Vatersay Hall cafe is a great place to stop for a bite to eat, coffee or cake. I can say that the cakes are absolutely gorgeous and huge slices too!

  • Stay. – Vatersay Community Campsite, Vatersay, Isle of Barra, Outer Hebrides, HS9 5YW
Outer Hebrides road trip and a stop off at Vatersay

Day 5 Ferry from Barra to Eriskay

We were up early for our early morning ferry from Barra to Eriskay. We arrived really early but we hadn’t needed to arrive quite as early as we did, but never mind!

We visited Ardmore Coffee (Ardmhor, Isle of Barra, Outer Hebrides, HS9 5YB) for the most incredible milkshakes and a coffee of course. A nice start to the morning.

The ferry from Barra to Eriskay crossing takes about 50 minutes and is a pleasant journey.

The beach on Eriskay is incredibly breathtaking. With powder white sand and crystal clear water. We had the beach to ourselves and it is breathtaking.

Outer Hebrides road trip and a stop off at Eriskay to enjoy the beach

You can stop in at the Am Politician (it opened at midday) and we all had lunch overlooking the beach. You can sit outside and inside and it is dog friendly.

Am Politican -Eriskay, Isle Of South Uist, Outer Hebrides, HS8 5JL

We then made our way to South Uist to Long Island Retreats for our next stop.

Day 6 -7 North and South Uist

Long Island Retreats ( Tigh Na Breacain, Lochskipport, Isle of South Uist, Outer Hebrides, HS8 5NS)

Here you will find Lindsay and DJ who live in the stunning surrounds of Loch Skipport, South Uist. I have been following Lindsay for some time on instagram and couldn’t come all the way to Outer Hebrides in our campervan without visiting their crofts. Here we stayed totally off grid, and had the opportunity to meet their ponies and feed the baby lambs and just enjoy some peace and tranquility on the island.

Outer Hebrides road trip and a stay at Long Island retreats in Uist

Crofter DJ and Lindsay are just incredible people, and they run quite a few tours and Lindsay offered so much advice for where to go and what to see. I only wish we had longer to stay here.

There is plenty to see and do in Uist;

  • Benbecula beaches
  • Uist Distillery
  • Eriskay
  • Eat lunch at the Wee Cottage kitchen
  • Grimsy
  • Berneray
Outer Hebrides road trip stop off at Bencecula on the gorgeous beaches

Day 8/9 ferry from Lochmoddy to Isle of Skye

As I mentioned our ferry from Lochboisdale was cancelled so we had to leave Uist a day early to secure a ferry to the Isle of Skye and back onto mainland Scotland to get us back home in time for work and school.

This did mean that we had an unexpected stop over on the Isle of Skye and a full day exploring.

We managed to book a campsite last minute and we stayed on Kinloch Campsite – a friendly family-run campsite on the shores of Loch Dunvegan. At £57 a night I thought this was very pricey though, but it was a nice campsite with access to Loch Dunvegan. Dog friendly too.

The village of Dunvegan is a five minute walk from the campsite where you will find a good range of shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants. Dunvegan Castle is only a short drive away too.  

We stopped to look for Hectors Highland cows and found a lovely little spot for more coffee and cake (can you see a pattern here) I can highly recommend a visit here for some lovely sponge cake with a view.

Here we took the Ferry from Skye to Mallaig for our last stop before our drive home

  • Stay Kinloch Campsite

Day 10 Arisaig

We have stayed in Arisaig before for our first ever Scotland road trip – and fell in love with it. This time we stayed at Camusdarach campsite and what a stunning campsite it is.

Read our Camusdarach campsite review

We headed straight into mallaig for some pizza to take back to the campsite

I can highly recommend The Bakehouse and Crannog for delicious takeaway pizza, and only a five minute drive from our campsite!

Camusdarach campsite is a lovely campsite, both family friendly and dog friendly. It sits between Arisaig and Mallaig and has direct access via a footpath to 3 beautiful sandy beaches. Perfect to watch the sunset and paddleaboard

There is also self catering accommodation here too.

Cost of the Outer Hebrides road trip

This is what we spent on ferries for the Outer Hebrides road trip, and this is for a family of five and a dog.

  • Oban to Castlebay = £129.95
  • Eriskay to Barra = £23.40
  • Lochboisdale to Mallaig £102.60

Our Lochboisdale ferry to Mallaig was cancelled and we had to take an alternative ferry from Lochmaady to Uig. and then an extra ferry from Armadale to Mallaig.

  • Armadale to Mallaig – £ 21.85

We really wanted to visit Lewis and Harris but the ferries and time was not on our side. We will be back to the Outer Hebrides and I hope you found our Outer Hebrides road trip helpful to plan your route.

Top tips for an Outer Hebrides road trip

– The Hebridean islands have great roads that are really well kept. We found other motorists and cyclists to be extremely respectful and it was a pleasure to drive on the islands.

– There are passing places along the one track roads to allow you to pullover and pass other vehicles.  

– Keep an eye on your fuel as there are minimal places to top up. We filled the tank in Oban.

– Phone reception can be no existent and I actually had no phone reception at all in Barra. So make sure you download any documents you need and have an idea of restaurants/supermarkets and places to visit prior to your trip. I recommend purchasing a good map to take with you

– Enjoy the honesty boxes and local restaurants along the way – so many amazing cakes and goodies!!

The Outer Hebrides is very open and can be really windy, make sure you take plenty of suncream and warm clothes!

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