The Hebridean Way

Long-distance walking route through Scotland's Outer Hebrides

By Richard Barrett

Guidebook to walking the Hebridean Way, a 155 mile (247km) walking route along the length of the Outer Hebrides. From the island of Vatersay to Stornoway on Lewis, the waymarked route can be walked in 8 to 13 days and crosses a variety of terrain including shell beaches, rugged hills and wild moor. Also includes an extension to the Butt of Lewis.



Best walked between April and October, when the days are longer; the weather is at its best and the ground underfoot is likely to be drier.


Starting at Vatersay, the routes crosses Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray, Harris and Lewis to its current end in Stornoway.


The Hebridean Way is mostly a low-level, waymarked route that never ventures far from a road. However it requires careful planning as it crosses stretches of wild moor where there is no clear path and there are limited facilities near the route. As yet there is no baggage transfer provider.
Must See

Must See

247km (155 mile) waymarked trail over rugged hills and along dazzling white shell beaches the length of the Outer Hebrides, from Vatersay in the south to Stornoway in the north, passing through 10 islands linked by causeways and ferries.
10 May 2017
6 Mar 2019
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.2cm
  • Overview

    Launching in 2017, the Hebridean Way offers walkers the opportunity to experience the magic of Scotland's Outer Hebrides in one inspirational journey. The waymarked route stretches 247km (155 miles) from Vatersay to Stornaway, linking ten major islands of the archipelago by means of causeways and two ferry crossings: Vatersay, Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray, Harris and Lewis. Suitable for most walkers with a moderate level of fitness, it can be completed in 8–14 days and is rich in natural, historical and cultural interest.

    This guidebook presents the Hebridean Way in 10 stages of 16–35km (10–22 miles), plus two additional stages to extend the route to the Butt of Lewis in line with future plans. Detailed route description is accompanied by 1:50,000 OS mapping, stunning photography to whet your appetite and a wealth of information about local points of interest. The introduction offers an overview of the islands' geology, history, plants and wildlife as well as comprehensive practical advice for walking the route, such as when to go, how to get there (and back) and what to take. Accommodation listings can be found in the appendices.

    The route is a celebration of the diverse landscapes of the Hebrides, from dazzling white shell beaches to wild moorland and flower-strewn machair. It visits Neolithic and Bronze Age remains, ruined forts and castles and monuments commemorating Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highland Land Struggle. The islands are also a great location to spot seabirds, raptors and a number of migratory species. Informative and inspiring, Richard Barrett's guidebook is an ideal companion to discovering this captivating route.

  • Contents

    How the Hebridean Way came into being
    Planning your trip
    Selecting a schedule
    When to walk
    Getting there
    First and last nights
    Money matters
    Baggage transfer
    What to take
    Planning day by day
    Using this guide
    Weather forecasts
    Phones and Wi-Fi
    All about the Outer Hebrides
    Plants and flowers
    The history of the Outer Hebrides
    The Hebridean Way
    Stage 1 Vatersay to Ardmhor
    Stage 2 Eriskay to Howmore
    Stage 3 Howmore to Baile nan Cailleach
    Stage 4 Baile nan Cailleach to Lochmaddy
    Stage 5 Lochmaddy to Berneray
    Stage 6 Leverburgh to Horgabost Township
    Stage 7 Horgabost Township to Tarbert
    Stage 8 Tarbert to Aline
    Stage 9 Aline to Laxay
    Stage 10 Laxay to Stornoway
    Additional stages to the Butt of Lewis
    Stage 11 Stornoway to New Tolsta
    Stage 12 New Tolsta to the Butt of Lewis

    Appendix A Useful contacts
    Appendix B Accommodation
    Appendix C Common Gaelic and Norse name elements
    Appendix D Further reading

  • Updates
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    June 19

    Page 143; Line 4 - "Go through the gate and up the muddy track, eventually leaving the fence to you left and crossing a footbridge to meet the days first stretch of raised turf path."

    Page 148 Description "From Laxay, regain the route by turning immediately after the public toilets and walking up the track with Loch Ulapuil, Laxay Community Woodland and Loch na Criadha (the clay loch) on your left," I've redrawn the map which in available through the downloads.

    May 2019

    The Heb Hostel in Stornoway allows walkers and cyclists to arrive any time during the day, drop off luggage and /or bikes and help themselves to tea and coffee. The hostel also has laundry facilities, a drying room and a bike shed.

    Jan 2018

    Re Leverburgh to Seilebost –

    Map p108 - Between about NG 999922 and 008930 the route has been signed towards the dunes behind Scarasta Bheag as an alternative to walking along the road.
    The two small sections of boardwalk behind Scarasta (p110) are pretty deadly when wet and urgently require some wire netting on them. Until such time as this is done, they are better avoided, even if it does mean wet feet.
    P111 - Approaching Gleann Horgabost the signed route is higher up the hillside than is shown as it rounds the spur of Bulabhall – more like at 100m asl. It doesn’t go near the pass.

    Re Seilebost to at least Urgha –

    The marker posts have a blue ring – none of the yellow topped ones seem to exist anymore - P120

    Typo on p110 / line 5 – ‘solder’ should be soldier

    Nov 2017

    Vatersay –
    There is no obvious sign to show where to leave the road to go up round Beinn Tangabhal at NL642 977. It might worth mentioning that it is just before a stream that is ~250m along past the quarry.

    Barra –
    Signs peter out at around NF 701 046 with no obvious way to deal with the barbed wire fence by the roadside. Again there is no roadside sign to assist those going the other way.

    South Uist –
    The turn off at West Kilbride is not clearly signed, and people would be best advised follow the coast round to the left shortly after the café at the camp site.
    At Loch Carnan community wind farm NF 820 421, the description is fine for going north. But for folk going south they need to know that the path across the moor is near the most easterly turbine.
    Descending down the windfarm track to the road to turn left; the quarry is ~100m along not 250m. On turning right past the quarry, there are no signs between there and the next road; the track mentioned swings right to a lochan but walkers need to go straight ahead at that bend. This section is particularly soggy / boggy. Towards the end, on approaching an obvious house, it is important that people swing left to find a gate about 50m along, otherwise they will end up going through someone’s garden.

    Benbecula –
    At Lionacleit the sign to the left is immediately after the Dark Island Hotel.
    From the top of Rueval there are no waymarkers at the moment. In misty conditions people should follow a compass bearing of 350° which will take them towards the east end of Loch Olabhat, to pick up a rough track leading to a gate and onto the road. This is where the road-side sign is (NF 821 555) and not at the traditional thatched cottage.

    North Uist –
    On approaching Carinish, there is a road-side sign at ~NF 832 601, pointing right into a small wooded area. A signed path goes from there to intercept the other towards the NW end of the woodland shown on the map (but not yet all there in reality). So those folk who don’t need to go to Carinish can reduce the road walking by taking this option. At Carinish, there is no road-side sign pointing to the route described and once the route is found (by following the description) the signage is disintegrating.
    At Balthaisbhal water treatment plant there are currently some works going on in the immediate surrounds of the plant. The high security fence prevents people easily accessing the signed route from there. If this is a temporary blockage, perhaps on your web updates, people could be advised to follow the high fence round to the left, carefully cross over the new fence that abuts it, and continue following the high fence until the waymarkers can be spotted. Signage from here across the moorland isn’t great and would be difficult to rely on in misty conditions. If it is very misty people could follow the road.

    Thank for the updates from Margaret Porter at C-N-Do Scotland -

  • Reviews
    The Hebridean Way will become one of the classic long distance paths of Britain. This guide provides an excellent basis for planning and enjoying a walk along this new route.

    The Hebridean Way is a 155 mile waymarked route which opened in 2017 after several years of planning and £1.4m investment. The waymarked route, which utilises both older and specially laid tracks, runs the length of the Outer Hebrides, from Vatersay in the south to Stornoway in Lewis in the north, with six causeways and two ferries joining the nine islands. The route is never far from the sea and generally keeps to lower ground, but nevertheless encompasses an extraordinary variety of scenery: the silver beaches of Barra, the mountains of south Harris, the myriad of tiny lochans of Benbecula, peat and heather moorland, rocky hill sides and farmland.

    Richard Barrett's comprehensive guide, in the usual Cicerone format and with colour pictures on every page, will both enthuse the reader to visit these remote and peaceful islands and provide the information needed to facilitate a trek along all or part of the route. lmportantly. the book provides information on how to get there (normally by boat, though a more exciting approach is to fly to Barra Airport and land on the beach which serves as the runway) and on accommodation, with suggested 8 and 14 day itineraries for those walking the entire distance. There is a detailed route description as well as 1:50000 OS map sections covering the
    route itself, although further mapping will be needed for a wider overview or if venturing away from the trail.

    The book has sections on the islands' geology, a result of complex interactions of volcanic activity and glaciation, on the wildlife, from puffins to eagles, and on the local history, from the romantic to the violent. Even so, a few pages cannot hope to do justice to the origins and natural history of this rich and varied environment; rather the book will inspire readers to go and explore it for themselves.

    The Hebridean Way will become one of the classic long distance paths of Britain. This guide provides an excellent basis for planning and enjoying a walk along this new route.

    Ken Falconer, Strider

    A tempting guide to the latest long-distance route in Scotland

    This is a tempting guide to the latest long-distance route in Scotland: the 155-mile Hebridean Way, which runs the length of the Outer Hebrides from Vatersay on the southernmost tip of Barra, through the Uists to Stornoway, in the north of Lewis.

    Purists will undoubtedly want to add the dramatic extra sixteen miles to the Stevenson lighthouse at the northernmost Butt of Lewis which, because of lack of funding, is still not officially part of the Hebridean Way. Further future options might include routes running up both the east and west coasts of Lewis.

    The route owes much to the pioneering work of Dr Peter Clarke, whose 2006 book The Outer Hebrides: The Timeless Way was the inspiration for the creation of the new Way. It was not until 2012 that Clarke's idea received official financial support, and work began on improving and waymarking the Route.

    Highlights along the route include retracing parts of Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight from Government forces after the Battle of Culloden in 1746; the magnificent, flower-filled machair meadows and dazzling white sand beaches of South Uist, and, just off route, the imposing standing stones of Callanish on the west coast of Lewis.

    Roly Smith, Outdoor Focus

    This should be on your UK bucket list

    The Hebridean Way is one of Scotland's newest long-distance walking routes, and despite its young age, it's one that should be on your UK bucket list. The 155-mile trail runs across 10 spectacular islands of the Outer Hebrides from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis, and offers nothing short of stunning landscapes, fascinating wildlife, ruggedly wild moors and beautiful white shell beaches.

    This handy little pocket book will guide you through the full two-week route in 10 stages plus two additional stages between Stornoway and the Butt of Lewis. Clear some space in your calendar because this is one you simply can't miss.

    Adventure Travel magazine

    This book is essential reading for anyone contemplating walking the Hebridean Way

    "The Hebridean Way: Long-Distance Walking Route Through Scotland's Outer Hebrides" by Richard Barrett is a superb pocket-sized guide to the walk. Most walkers will be familiar with the approach that publishers Cicerone take to guides like this, and it's probably sufficient for those familiar with their output for us to say that this book lives up to the extremely high standards we have come to expect from them. For those who have somehow missed Cicerone's extensive range of excellent guides, what you get is just about everything you need to walk the Hebridean Way in one small package.

    The contents include an introduction, a stage planner, sections on practicalities and planning, and background about the Outer Hebrides. The bulk of the book comprises descriptions of the walk broken down into twelve stages. The first ten cover the current "official" route, which ends (assuming you are heading from south to north) in Stornoway. Anyone who knows the Western Isles will feel this is an odd ending point, as the Isle of Lewis extends considerably further north. This oddity is addressed by the inclusion of two additional stages in the guide that extend the route to a much more satisfying conclusion, the Butt of Lewis, which marks the true northern end of the archipelago. The result is to give the reader the option of a true "end-to-end" walk. The section about each stage includes a series of full colour extracts from Ordnance Survey 1:50K maps showing the route, plus colour photographs, a detailed route description and boxed sections on points of interest, ranging from places visited to flora and fauna. Appendixes cover useful contacts and accommodation. The whole thing comes in a waterproof slip-on jacket. This book is essential reading for anyone contemplating walking the Hebridean Way: and an essential companion for anyone actually doing so.

    Undiscovered Scotland

    This book is a must for those intent on planning [to walk the Hebridean Way] or those who want a guide in hand.

    Scottish Islands Explorer

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Richard Barrett

Richard Barrett spent his working life as a professional marketer, but still found time for climbing, winter mountaineering and sea kayaking. He first visited the Harris hills as a teenager and became a regular visitor. He lived in North Harris for a number of years, where he and his wife ran a guest house and, although now a city-dweller, he still makes frequent forays to the Hebrides, reconnecting with the wilderness and catching up with old friends.

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