Just because you’ve had a baby doesn’t mean you become boring. (Well that’s what I tell myself, my mates probably have a different view). With this mind, we decided to head to the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. Before we had kids my wife and I used to visit Scotland on a regular basis, we even lived there for a while. Scotland is a beautiful part of the world. There are mountains, rivers, amazing coastline and a lovely friendly atmosphere. These islands are often referred to as The Western Isles and stretch for roughly 210km from north to south.
We decided to avoid a long (its 450 miles, or at least 8hrs in the car from Poole to Glasgow) and potential horrendous journey with kids from Dorset to Scotland by booking a flight to Glasgow International Airport from Southampton. We picked up our Toyota camper van and after a night staying in the beautiful town of Oban, we departed to South Uist.
The weather was exactly as we expected; grey, wet and pretty cold for the late spring. The great thing about The Hebrides is that you can pretty much find the most outstanding beach within a few minutes drive. Although we live in Poole and always go to the beach, it’s completely different up there; the beaches are full of life, shells and tasty seafood.
Now it wouldn’t be a family adventure trip without dad trying to show his son how to fish. Not being a fisherman by any stretch of the imagination, it came with apprehension that I would mess it up and lose all my fishing tackle on the first cast in front of the boy. Luckily I managed to get the hook in the water and to my surprise 3 mackerel came out with the first cast. So not only is the place beautiful but it’s guaranteed to make you look like a great dad.
Our journey took us northwards, firstly from South to North Uist and then across the Harris. Harris is probably the most spectacular of the islands with Luskentyre Beach being our highlight. The sand and water clarity was simply amazing and one day we hope to return. We accidentally came across a shop called Croft 36. This was without doubt one of the highlights of the trip. The whole experience was based on an honesty box and they simply had the most amazing food – bread, mussels, pastries and more.
We choose to do this trip in a camper van as opposed to a motorhome as we didn’t want something too big to drive around on the island’s roads. While space was tight and we had to be organised, this was fine for a family of 4 with two young children. At first we decided that we would pop up the roof and put the kids ‘upstairs’ but it quickly became apparent that the Isle of Harris is quite a windy place and we had to sleep cosily in the main bed together. Whilst our back probably didn’t appreciate and you consider it an adventure, it was absolutely fine.
As we reached Lewis, we knew the trip was beginning to come to an end. We were a little sad but then came a visit to the North West of the Island. This area, called Uig, really came as a surprise to us. We had not read about the area and the sunsets were simply amazing. Being this far north and visiting the islands in May meant the sun wasn’t setting until 11ish (not the best thing for getting kids to sleep, but well worth it!).
We finally boarded the ferry at Stornaway and sailed back to Ullapool sad and exhausting, but full of so many memories. Here’s to the next family adventure.
Where to hire a camper van?
There are a number of suppliers who are in proximity to Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports.
We used Atlas Campervan and Hire
How to get there?
You’ll find many of the low cost airlines fly to Edinburgh or Glasgow. Glasgow is closer but if you have to fly to Edinburgh it wouldn’t add a great deal of driving to the journey.
Ferries can be booked with Calmac.
Where to stay?
Wild camping laws in Scotland are some of the most liberal in the world. You’re allowed to wild camp in many areas as long as you act responsibly.
More information is available here.
You’ll also find numerous campsites if you fancy a shower.
5 family friendly things to do and see…
Build Sandcastles on Luskentyre Sands
Spot a Golden Eagle on Harris
Eat amazing food at Croft 36
Buy mussels and scallops and cook them fresh.
Watch the sunset on Uig beaches in North West Lewis.
How much did it cost?
Flights – £200
Campervan – £800
Ferries – £400
Spending – £400
Total – £1800 for a 8 night break.
07 January 2019 by Rosie Tanner