The camper van’s maiden voyage
With my 8-Ball camper all set and completed, I was eager to embark on its first adventure. While I had been to the Hebrides a few times for work, I was excited to take the van on a true exploration.
Embarking on a camper van journey through the Hebrides promises a breathtaking experience, winding through rugged landscapes and the serene beauty of the Scottish islands. From the southernmost tip on Vatersay to the northernmost point at the Butt of Lewis, this road trip offers an immersive journey into the heart of the Hebrides. Let me take you on a whirlwind tour of the trip and share some recommendations for places to visit and stay.
The adventure kicked off on the Isle of Vatersay, with its stunning white sand beaches revealing panoramic vistas of turquoise seas, heather-clad hills, and skies that seem to stretch into eternity. There are fantastic stealth camping spots here, allowing you to stay right on the beach and enjoy a bracing morning dip in the crystal-clear waters. The first night in the Austops deluxe bed was brilliant—super comfy, and I could hear the waves on the beach, ensuring a great night’s sleep!
The following day, I ventured over the causeway to Barra, where a fantastic gin distillery sits opposite the Coop. I grabbed a bottle to enjoy in the upcoming nights. A stand-up paddleboarding session around Castle Bay, with the option to paddle to Kisimul Castle, provided picturesque views. Pro tip: visit the Ardmhor food truck at the ferry terminal for a delightful meal and grab a dirty chai from the tiny coffee shop there a personal favourite.
For those considering a longer stay on Barra, Scurrival campsite is a good, reasonably priced option. Watching planes land on Barra airport, (the run way is a beach so go during low tide), is a spectacle worth catching.
The ferry to Eriskay takes about 30 minutes, offering great views. Despite being a small island, Eriskay boasts the Politician, a pub with an interesting history, delicious food, and if you ask to see the ‘top shelf’ you will be shown hidden artefacts behind the bar.
The causeway connecting Eriskay and South Uist is a highlight. I popped the top of the van at a little stealth spot just before the causeway, enjoyed a gin and tonic, and watched the sun dip below the horizon. Having a fridge and freezer in the van was a game-changer for storing cold tonics and ice.
The next morning, I explored South Uist’s pretty landscapes and long beaches, keeping an eye out for the local sea otter population. Kildonan beach is an excellent spot for otter watching. Afterward, a visit to the Hebridean Smokehouse on North Uist for lunch is a must. Energised, I hiked the highest peak on Benbecula, enjoying a breathtaking view of South Uist’s scattered lochs. My campsite for the third night was on East Beach on Berneray, a wonderful spot for a peaceful night’s sleep.
After another refreshing night and morning dip, I caught the early ferry to Harris and Lewis, my favourite island in the Hebrides. The Harris side, with its epic scenery and Nisabost beach, offers a mesmerising experience. Horgabost Campsite on the east of the island is a great place to stay. The west, with cragged rock formations dropping into the sea, feels otherworldly. A trip through Tarbet with stops at the distillery and the Harris Tweed shop is recommended. Hotel Hebrides is a good spot for a couple of beers; I slept that night in the car park opposite. Opting for the Rib bed this time, I found it easy to set up and exceptionally comfy.
The next day, my journey led me to the Butt of Lewis lighthouse. Taking the east road provided stunning views and beaches, with the Calanais standing stones being an essential stop. Finding a stealth spot about a kilometre from the lighthouse, I popped the top, made a quick coffee, and savoured the majestic views of the crashing waves and cliffs. It was a perfect place to reflect on the road trip.
My final night’s sleep was back in the deluxe pop-top, listening to the waves and the wind outside. It was a fantastic trip, and I highly recommend exploring the Hebrides. September, with its quieter atmosphere, fewer midges, and often decent weather, is an ideal time. Of course, weather in the Hebrides is never guaranteed!
Driving a camper through the Hebrides is a unique experience, offering a blend of history, nature, and tranquility. My new van provided a comfortable base for exploring these remarkable islands. So, grab your van, pack your sense of adventure, bring a camera for the stunning landscapes, and let the Hebridean winds guide you on this unforgettable journey. It’s a perfect trip in a perfect van.