The Outer Hebrides – The Islands of Strangers

The term hav bred ey, meaning the islands at the edge of the sea, was used by the Vikings to describe what is now known as the Hebrides. While the Inner Hebrides are visible from the Scottish mainland, the Outer Hebrides are located far out in the Atlantic Ocean and are a barren and austere paradise.

The two main islands of Lewis and Harris are in fact part of the same land mass and are connected by a narrow isthmus. Lewis is home to the main town of Stornoway, that has a population of around 9,000, while Harris has a landscape of contrasts with sea cliffs reaching up to 700 metres (2300 feet) high and sea the colour of the Caribbean. Further south in the archipelago are North Uist,  South Uist and Barra, home to the world famous airport on the beach.

The Outer Hebrides archipelago comprises over 200 islands to the west of northern Scotland. It extends from around 200 kilometres from the Butt of Lewis in the north to Barra Head in the south. The islands are between 50 kilometres and 100 kilometres from the Scottish mainland and cover over 3,070 square kilometres.

The islands were referred to by the Scottish Gaels as Innse Gall, meaning Islands of Strangers, referring to the Norsemen who dominated the islands for nearly 500 years. Today the Scottish Gaelic language is strong, however the Norse heritage remains very evident in many place-names.

1 week camper van road-trip with Hebridean Campervan Holidays


  • Marco Polo Scotland
  • The Outer Hebrides Guide Book
  • Information signs in the Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides – The Islands of Strangers

by Uncover Travel time to read: 1 min
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