This book is the perfect anecdote for armchair walkers who love the Hebrides and for active adventurers to escape the British mainland to wild, but hospitable lands that on the edge of our world. Having formed this opinion … I then opened the book!
I was not disappointed and was drawn in by the introduction: ‘the Hebridean Way stretches 247km (155 miles) along the length of the Outer Hebrides…. The route crosses 10 islands linked by six causeways and two ferries – and if these numbers do not appear to add up it is because the so-called ‘Isles’ of Harris (Na Hearadh) and Lewis (Leòdhas) share the same landmass. The route traverses a variety of different terrains, passing over rugged hills, along dazzling white shell beaches and across seemingly empty moorland.’
The Gaelic names hint at another country. This, combined with the romantic charm of the area – from Bonnie Prince Charlie to the production of Harris Tweed – differentiate this route from more pedestrian ones elsewhere. This pocket-size guide in a protective cover matches the quality and content of other long distance guides published recently by Cicerone. Detailed route descriptions and clear Ordnance Survey maps sit alongside well illustrated sections on history, culture, wildlife and the local economy. There is also a good deal of useful information on where to stay and how to get there (Oban is four hours from Penrith, followed by a five hour ferry crossing).
That the Hebrides are remote is their strength and they win hands down when it comes to getting away from people, amongst some of Britain’s most stunning scenery. The author first visited the Outer Hebrides in the 1970s and ran a guesthouse for several years on North Lewis. His local knowledge shines through. If you find that Penrith Today ceases to appear through your letterbox, this is probably because the editor is walking the Hebridean Way!