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Travel: Search out the islands of your dreams in the Scottish Isles

© SYSTEMLower Killeyan is a hamlet on the Isle of Islay.
Lower Killeyan is a hamlet on the Isle of Islay.

Scotland has almost 800 islands and just 130 are inhabited, some with just a handful of people. The islands can be enjoyed at any time so there is plenty of reason to return throughout the year.

Arran

Adventure seekers should make their way to Arran Outdoor Centre for kayaking, mountain biking, gorge walking or a forest safari with Mogabout. While those who want to slow down can enjoy a stroll around the beautiful Brodick Castle, Garden & Country Park, a walk to The Preaching Cave or explore the legendary King’s Cave where it is believed Robert the Bruce once sheltered.

© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
Glen Rosa is a glen near Goatfell on the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde

If you’d like to know more about Arran’s history head to The Isle of Arran Heritage Museum. Foodies can sample the finest locally produced food and drink with a visit to Taste of Arran, dine in at The Lighthouse, or see what the catch of the day is with a visit to Mara Fish Bar & Deli.

Mull & Iona

The colourful houses of Tobermory are just one of the picture-perfect scenes that await you on the beautiful island of Mull. The town is also home to several independent businesses that will help you discover some excellent local producers. Sample more of the island’s delectable dishes on the Mull and Iona Food Trail, a collection of the islands’ best eateries and culinary experiences.

Wildlife lovers will enjoy catching a glimpse of white-tailed sea eagles, golden eagles, otters, seals, minke whales and basking sharks as part of a tour by companies such as Mull Charters.

To the west of Mull, you’ll find the peaceful Isle of Iona. For many centuries, the island has held a special significance for Christians. St Oran’s Chapel and Reilig Odhram is reputed to be the burial place of several kings of Scotland, including Macbeth.

Islay & Jura

Whisky is just one of the many things to discover on Islay – there are nine distilleries on the island. Islay Sea Adventures offer tours focusing on wildlife, fishing, food and drink and for thriller seekers, an opportunity to get up close to The Corryvreckan Whirlpool. On dry land hire a bike from Islay E-wheels and enjoy the island’s many cycle routes.

© SYSTEM
Portnahaven (Scottish Gaelic: Port na h-Abhainne, meaning river port) is a village on Islay in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland.

To view the island in a completely different way book a bespoke tour with Islay Tuk Tuk, this special taxi takes visitors to some of the islands most popular spots. A short distance from Islay you’ll find Jura, one of the wildest places in Scotland. Today, it is home to just 200 people and around 7,000 deer. Gin lovers must visit Lussa Gin on the north of the island.

Lewis & Harris

The islands are the epicentre of Gaelic culture. Stornoway is the largest town on Lewis. Immerse yourself in Gaelic culture starting with a visit to Museum nan Eilean. Found in the restored Lews Castle, it looks at the stories of the islands and the people who live here. An Lanntair brings the best in arts, music, cinema and entertainment and is home to up to six local and international exhibitions every year. For those who want a more authentic look at island life then head to Gearrannan Blackhouse village.

© SYSTEM
Tobermory (Tobar Mhoire – Well of Mary), capital of Mull, is one of the prettiest ports in Scotland, thanks to the colourful houses and a sheltered bay where legend has it one of the Spanish Armada ships sank in 1588 carrying gold bullion

As well as offering cottage accommodation, visitors can step back in time and see how the people here once lived, by watching traditional activities including the weaving of the famous Harris Tweed. Explore the stunning southern islands of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist.

Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful coast in the country, stroll along the Traigh Hornais Clachan Sands, Berneray West Beach, Coileag a’ Phrionnsa or take the water to try kayaking or sailing.

Skye

The Sleat peninsula to the south of the island is home to some wonderful woodland walks, try Coille Dalavil or Kinloch Forest walk, or walk to the Point of Sleat, then enjoy a dram at the visit Torabhaig Distillery.

Trumpan Church is a location that boasts amazing sea views and dramatic history. Slow down and experience the Waternish peninsula loop taking in the picturesque fishing village of Stein, home to the Michelin starred restaurant Loch Bay and Stein Inn, the oldest pub on Skye.

Go for a day of adventures on the Isle of Raasay. Visit the beautifully restored Jacobean mansion Raasay House for tea, walk on the famous Calum’s Road or hike up Dun Caan, Finally, take a trip to the picturesque ruins of Brochel Castle or the Isle of Raasay Distillery.