Exploring the Inner Hebrides of Scotland
With restrictions in the UK easing and coming out the other side of COVID-19 we decided a camping trip to the Inner Hebrides of Scotland was well overdue. With a weekend to explore, camp gear packed and a few vans we set off north ready to delve into any adventure.
Just off the West Coast of Scotland, the Inner Hebrides are made up of 35 inhabited islands and 44 uninhabited islands. Known for their rugged landscapes, stunning hikes and picturesque castles, we chose to explore around the islands of Skye and Raasay.
Route: Drive up to Fort William and meet to head North to find a camp spot
Accommodation: Camping on the shores of Loch Duich
Since we were all coming from different places, we decided it was easiest to meet in Fort William, since it was on the way over to the Inner Hebrides. The drive from Glasgow up to Fort William goes through Glencoe, known for waterfalls and stunning peaks to climb, the drive will have you constantly looking out your window.
With enough supplies for the weekend, and plenty of firewood we set out to find a place to camp for the night. As some people were finishing work late then heading up, we planned to wild camp just before Skye so they wouldn’t be arriving too late. In Scotland, there is the ‘right to roam’ which means you have the freedom to move around, hike, and camp anywhere, as long as you do so respectfully.
After having a look around Loch Duich for a camp spot we found a big open area on the shores not far from Kintail Lodge and set up camp for the evening.
Route: Loch Duich to Skye then ferry to Raasay
Accommodation: Wild camping on Raasay
We woke up ready for coffee and eager to pack up and explore. A few people jumped in the loch for a morning swim then we packed up camp and headed off the mainland to the Hebrides.
The road from Loch Duich to the Skye bridge goes past Eilean Donan Castle. The castle is a beautiful picturesque castle situated on a small tidal island close to the shore of the loch. If you have time I would recommend at least making a stop to take in the surroundings and the beauty of the castle.
Skye is Scotland's largest island and gives off this enchanting, dreamy aura, with stunning waterfalls and majestic peaks, it's not hard to see why it is so breathtaking. Skye is full of adventurous things to keep you busy but since we were heading to Raasay later that afternoon we choose a few of our favourite places to visit.
The Quiraing, on the north of Skye, is part of the Trotternish area and is one of the most peculiar landscapes, created through slipping cliffs over thousands of years and an ice age, the Quiraing consists of jagged pinnacles, rocky mountains and sunken lakes. There are lots of areas to hike around and explore.
The Old Man of Storr is one of the most popular walks and can be the busiest on the island. Created by an ancient landslide it is one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. There is a car park and from there it is a 3.8km hike to the top which takes around an hour to complete. Since we were short on time we just stopped for a few pictures and headed back on the road to get the ferry to Raasay.
The ferry leaves from Sconser and runs from 08:25 till 18:45 on weekdays and until 21:00 on weekends. It takes roughly 30 minutes. Have a look here for additional information on ferry times, prices, etc. Please note due to COVID-19 they are only accepting card payments and you are asked to remain in your vehicle for the duration of the journey.
Raasay is one of the most geographically diverse landmasses in the world. From rolling hills to native forests and secluded beaches, explore any part of the island and the views you will enjoy are breathtaking. The roads on Raasay are single track bumpy roads, with many potholes and cattle grids, but the views are outstanding.
We headed to the north of the island to a part called Arnish, to find a swimming spot for the afternoon before setting up camp. We found a perfect little spot and jumped in for a refreshing afternoon dip.
After drying off in the afternoon sun, we headed back towards the ferry port and found a camp spot on the west of the island in between Balachuirn and Glame. We set up camp for the night on top of a hill, with a slight breeze to keep those pesky midges away. There is something so special about wild camping, and something I often find myself taking for granted. Growing up in Scotland I'm in awe that you can't wild camp anywhere. To keep the magic alive of wild camping, make sure to be respectful, always take your litter with you and leave no trace, make sure you camp away from buildings, roads and historic structures and camp in small numbers.
Today was a good day, we swam, we laughed, we walked, we shot some pictures and we talked around the fire until long after the sun went down.
Route: Ferry from Raasay back to Skye, drive back to Glasgow through Glencoe
Today was our last day to explore Raasay. We woke up early eager to make the most of the day, fuelled up on coffee and headed to the South East of the island to North Fearns, Point 8 on the map below, to hike to Hallaig. The hike takes around 2 hours and is 6.5km in total. The walk is along a superb old grassy footpath with views up to Dun Caan, Raasay's highest peak, and down to the sea.
After exploring the east coast and Halliag we headed back to the ferry port and set our eyes on heading south. We decided to stop on Skye for some lunch and stopped at a place called Deli Gasta in Broadford, just off the road back to the mainland. After our caffeine fix and some food, we made a plan to head south and pop our heads into the Falls of Falloch, just off the A82, after Glencoe and before Loch Lomond.
The Falls of Falloch is a 30ft waterfall on the River Falloch accessible by a short walk in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. In peak times the car park can fill up quickly but since it was later in the afternoon/ early evening we managed to find a spot and jumped off from the edge of the falls for a quick dip before heading back south to start another week.
I used to think that going on an adventure meant getting on a plane, flying somewhere far away and doing something I’ve never done before. I often struggled with the process of finding adventure, but now I know that it can as simple as exploring, rediscovering and connecting with the places that are in my own backyard. As much as I complain about wanting to 'get out' of the UK it is a pretty good place for micro-adventures. I encourage everyone to get out and roam home, explore what your own backyard has to offer. I promise you won't be disappointed.