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Special interest holidays
|Price range||From £435|
|Travel partner||Brightwater Holidays|
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The Isle of Barra
The Isle of Barra is the most southerly of the Outer Hebrides and has long been famed for its beauty, boasting beaches and hills, machair and moorland, all in a small island. As we sail into Castlebay on the ferry from Oban we pass the sentinel-like Kisimul Castle, the 12th century stronghold of the Clan MacNeil, which provides a stirring and romantic welcome to the island. From our base here we will explore the wild hills and secluded bays of the island, including the famous Cockleshell Beach which, when the tide is out, serves as the island?s airstrip, and the neighbouring island of Vatersay with its brilliant white sandy beaches. We will also take the opportunity to cross by ferry to the neighbouring island of Eriskay and then by causeway to South Uist, with its constantly changing mountain scenery and colourful, flowery machair, which is home to wildfowl, corncrakes and waders. In the evenings it?s a case of relaxing after a fine dinner, enjoying a glass of peaty island whisky and watching the sun sink into the Atlantic Ocean.
- 3 nights bed and full breakfast at the comfortable Isle of Barra Hotel, Tangasdale Beach; two dinners and a late supper on arrival. All rooms have private facilities
- Visit to Kisimul Castle and excursions as described
- All coaching and ferry transfers
- Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager
We depart from our designated pick up points and head for the Western Highlands, stopping en route for refreshments. On arrival in Oban we will board the early afternoon ferry for Castlebay (via Lochboisdale on South Uist) and the Isle of Barra, where we will arrive in the early evening. Our base is the Isle of Barra Hotel, superbly located on Tangasdale Beach with stunning ocean views. A buffet supper is served on arrival.
After breakfast we will take the ferry to the small island of Eriskay, just 3 miles long and 2 miles wide, with a great sandy beach known as Prince Charlie?s Bay ? Bonnie Prince Charlie having landed here in July 1745. We continue by causeway to South Uist, the second largest island in the Western Isles and a stronghold of Gaelic culture and traditions. The western machair is carpeted in a profusion of wild flowers and is also a haven for birds, with the rare corncrake regularly sighted, along with waders and other waterfowl. Shimmering white sandy beaches, ancient standing stones and countless little freshwater lochs complete the South Uist experience. We return to our hotel via the causeway and the ferry from Eriskay and dinner is served in the evening.
After our full Scottish breakfast we will depart for a tour of the island, including a visit by boat to Kisimul Castle, the only surviving medieval castle in the Western Isles and the seat of the Clan MacNeil. The castle features a great hall, kitchen, chapel, dungeon and 60-foot tower, together with a shop. We will also visit Cockleshell Beach, the unique runway whose use is governed by the tides. On approaching the airport keep an eye out to the left for the much loved former home of Sir Compton Mackenzie, the author of ‘Whisky Galore’, which is forever associated with the island. In fact, it was on the neighbouring island of Vatersay, which we will visit by means of the causeway linking the two islands, that the classic film adaptation was made. In the course of our tour today we also hope to see some of the 1000 species of wild flowers that grow on the island, particularly on the machair, the fertile, grassy pastures that lie between the moorland and the sea. Dinner is served in the evening.
This morning we will catch the morning ferry back to Oban (via Lochboisdale on South Uist). Breakfast will be served on board. On arrival in Oban in the afternoon we continue our homeward journey, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.
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