Known as one of the world’s last great wildernesses, the Outer Hebrides offer mile after mile of pristine white sandy beaches surrounded by a crystal-clear turquoise shoreline making it a must see destination for anyone looking to take a road trip around Scotland. So, if you’re planning on an Outer Hebrides campervan road trip and looking for some inspiration and local knowledge, read on!
The south Hebridean islands of Barra and Vatersay are easily reached by car ferry making them the perfect starting point for your Campervan road trip around the Outer Hebrides. Barra’s spectacular beach runway with its tidal timetable is a well-known route into Barra but a trip on the ferry from Oban offers equal appeal. On our recent campervan road trip to Barra, we had the thrill of sighting a pod of Porpoise, an Otter off the Isle of Mull and most exciting of all, a gigantic basking shark enjoying the ocean’s bounty in the wake of our ferry. The ferry may not have the thrill factor of a beach landing but what it lacks in excitement it more than makes up for in curb appeal. As your ferry pulls into port in the aptly named Castlebay harbour, the sight of Kisimul Castle is a truly unforgettable sight!
So where to begin your Outer Hebrides campervan road trip? If you’ve been doing your research, you will have noted the mixed comments about how locals view wild camping in motorhomes and campervans on Scotland’s islands. The plethora of crofters on the island means that most of Barra is fenced off from the road (to keep the livestock in) and offers very few places to pull of the road and camp up for the night. There are however a handful of lovely small campsites which are very reasonably priced, and I would recommend making use of these to not only keep the locals happy but also to contribute to the local economy.
Scurrival campsite, in the very far north east of the island past the airport, offers stunning views across one of the islands most beautiful beaches that skirts around the Eilogary Peninsular. The campsite has a homely feel with a small cottage housing facilities for campers.
An ideal spot for cycling and walking, there is a great walk from the Eoligarry jetty to Cille Bharra, an ancient MacNeil burial ground and Dun Scurrival, a ruined fort over 2000 years old. The old chapel at Cille Bharra has been used since early christian times and is associated with St Finnbarr, a 6th Century bishop. Beside the chapel lies lies the cast of a stone dating back to Norse times. The walk offers amazing views across the Sound of Barra to the mountains of South Uist.
A short drive or cycle from here, you will come across Barra Atlantic, the local fish factory. Be sure to make a visit to the shop and buy some fresh langoustines and scallops from the days catch to put on the BBQ . You wont find fresher seafood and they’re not only delicious, they are also amazing value!
Continue back round the islands orbital road into Castlebay and stop at the surprising large co-operative supermarket to buy some Stornoway black pudding to serve with the scallops or choose from the great selection of local produce including cakes from Macleans Bakery on nearby Benbecula island.
If you’re not feeling like cooking, Barra doesn’t offer too many options but the Kisimul Café overlooking its namesake castle is a must. The menu offers a mixture of Indian, Italian and Scottish fare to suit every taste and highly recommended are the delicious scallop pakoras, fish curries or a more traditional Scottish dish of Cullen Skink!
Scotland has become increasingly well known as one of the worlds remaining accessible wildernesses an Outer Hebrides campervan road trip is the perfect way to experience it. The remote island of Vatersay, Scotland’s most southerly and westerly inhabited island epitomises island isolation yet is only a short ten-minute drive from the neighbouring island of Barra. Nestling at the south end of the Outer Hebridean island archipelago and with less than one hundred residents, Vatersay is easily reached via the stone causeway to Barra and provides peace and tranquility to the locals and holiday makers that seek it out to embrace its stunningly beautiful white sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
Like the dot at the bottom of an exclamation mark, this small Scottish island, measuring only 3.5 miles in area, made its voice heard at the beginning of the 20th century when, out of desperation to survive, the Vatersay Raiders made their claim to croft on the uninhabited land on the island of Vatersay. The ensuing trial not only provoked huge support for the crofters across Scotland but it also left its mark on how Scottish land regulations were reformed and set the precedent for the rights of non-landowners to have access to land which has consequently resulted in Scotland’s ‘rights to roam’ land laws that are so popular with walkers, cyclists and tourists alike.
The recent opening of the Vatersay Community Centre is a fitting legacy to the fore bearers of this friendly community and offers showers and toilet facilities to ‘wild campers’ for a small fee for the use of the showers and the suggestion of a donation towards the upkeep of this facility and the surrounding sandy dunes nearby.
Despite it’s remoteness, the islands of Barra and Vatersay emit a real sense of warmth and community and for anyone looking for fresh sea air, stunning scenery and tranquility away from their busy lives, I would highly recommend starting your Outer Hebrides campervan road trip here. Taking a road trip to the Outer Hebrides is the perfect way to escape the crowds and be at one with nature. However, a note of warning….in order to ensure that these precious islands retain their beauty, there are a number of recommendations to observe if you are planning on taking a campervan.