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Hiking tour?

I'm planning a trip to Scotland - third times a charm? Hopefully I didn't just jinx it. The original 2020 plan was a hiking tour with REI that went through Ullapool, Skye, and Gairloch. Covid killed their international tours so I'm looking for a replacement since I am not at all interested in learning to drive on the left. Nothing similar exists so I'm looking at tours in just Skye, or Skye and the Outer Hebrides. Are Harris/Lewis worth giving up a couple/few days in Skye for? I've looked at pics online but they all have a suspicious lack of rain and clouds, so I'm wondering if the outer isles are still as good on a normal Scottish day or if I'd be better off sticking with Skye.

Posted by
12568 posts

Have you seen this hiking tour with MT Sobek?

https://www.mtsobek.com/trips/europe/scotland/scotland-western-isles-hiking/

They include hiking in Cairngorms National Park, the Isle of Skye, and the Outer Hebrides, (including Lewis and Harris).

We have done hiking tours with both MT Sobek (Patagonia and Japan) and REI Adventures (Pyrenees in Spain, Slovenia, and Tour de Mont Blanc) and they are very similar in style and content. Indeed, our TMB itinerary was identical to the trip done by MT Sobek, but started on a different day. And our TMB guide worked for both companies.

I was sorry to see REI drop their international trips, but their domestic trips did OK during covid, especially Alaska. I think they just decided that North American travel is a better fit with their values and their membership.

Posted by
775 posts

Hi -

Are you suggesting that COVID has put paid to REI overseas trips for good? If so, that’s a shame. You might try looking at other companies, some U.K. based (at least nominally) such as KE Adventures, Explore, Macs Adventures, etc., etc. Typing ‘Scottish Walking holidays’ into the search engine of my choice gave me quite a few options. Most will organise your connecting flights - at a price - but you may well be better off obtaining your own as it may be more economic, and you may have better ‘local knowledge’.

Personally, if I was hiking on Skye for a week, and the weather was good, then I wouldn’t take time out to visit Harris and Lewis, because the hiking on Skye is so good. The Black Cuillin is where the good stuff is and it is phenomenal in there, nowhere else like it in all the U.K., but as I wrote on another thread the other day it is rough and tough and you would be better with a guide (or group leader) just to have somebody who know the routes and what’s do-able and what might not be. I have seen one trip (it was one of the Explore trips) that takes in Assynt, climbing Cul Mor and Stac Pollaidh amongst other things and then heads for Skye where they climb Bruach Na Frithe, all rugged peaks and I would respectfully suggest not for the inexperienced, but only you can make that particular call.

Harris and Lewis are worthy of a trip in their own right, but the distances covered are large there and there’s no way of getting round it on your own without a car. Even then, from my personal experience, there was a lot of travelling wherever we went. On our visit a few years back we climbed Clisham, but the route was pathless or sketchy at best for the most part and very wet underfoot. My feeling is there’s more, more manageable stuff to go at on Skye.

Weather? No way of predicting, but I think you’ll get at least a couple of days in a week that are good, and frankly I’ve been on Skye where we had wall to wall sunshine for the majority of the time. Prepare always for a worst case scenario and adapt based on what you get given!

Hope you can fix something up. It really is a magnificent part of the world on that west coast.

Ian

Posted by
775 posts

Hi Lola -

Thanks for the link and advising of the situation. At least it seems to be a considered move and not one forced on them by the economic decline caused by the pandemic, which is what I was worried about.

Ian

Posted by
255 posts

Harris and Lewis definitely repay a visit. Actually I prefer them to Skye!

Posted by
572 posts

A few years ago, we hiked the West Highland Way with all bookings and luggage transport through Contours (https://www.contours.co.uk). They are based in the UK, so Scotland is a known location to them. I don't know if they have a tour that fits your needs, but they may also customize something for you. Definitely check them out.

Posted by
3 posts

Check out backroads.com. We hiked with them in the Basque Country last October and they were fabulous. We’re booked with them to hike in the Highlands and Isle of Skye in May.

Posted by
5581 posts

You want to search on "walking tours" or "walking holidays" not hiking. I you search on walking you will find other companies that offer lots of different options. Check out Wilderness Scotland for example.

There should be lots of options.

PAm

Posted by
267 posts

To update, I did pick a tour- Walkabout Scotland to Skye. Wilderness Scotland was fully booked for the times I wanted to go and I liked that Walkabout left from Edinburgh. It works better for the new plans. That MT Sobek and Backroads both sounded great but a little more than I was comfortable spending right now. They are saved as bookmarks for when I feel like spending more money, and I have no doubt Scotland will require a return trip. So now I just have to keep fingers crossed that the Walkabout tour works out. Thanks, All, for your help.