when you consider that a 2()()km chain of ll‘) Atlantic islands surrounds you.

l)ay three: the locals embrace the alco-pop culture. Barra may be the smallest of the islands but it's certainly one of the feistiest. liyen a hard—drinking (ilasgow townie (namely myself) wilts by comparison. The rigorous might fancy a wander up lleayal. which comes in at a none-to-sloppy 383 metres. The less

sprightly can enjoy the port of (‘astlebay. with its selection of

hotels and ceilidh nights. After eating the finest saltnon cakes eycr ((‘astlebay llotel. ()l87l 810223) we head to our nearest local. only to discover some Barra boys balancing llVC upturned bottles of cranberry Bacardi Bree/ers into a pint glass. replete with straw. The trick is to drink the stuff quickly as it pours. not letting the glass overflow. As we stumble down the road back to the hotel. the sun rises postcard-style oyer beautiful Kismul Castle. and day four. the final day of this whistlestop tour. begins.

A small circular island etched with white sandy beaches and rigorous sea Views. Barra is famed as the place where you can watch or ride the puddle-jumper-style IS-seater plane to various points in the Hebrides or back to Iidinburgh or (ilasgow. As we take llight the following day from the idyllic ~ if somewhat windswept ~ beach. the scene in 200/: A Space ()(ly's‘xcy‘. in which the lunar landscape of Jupiter is realised. springs to mind. Considering the east coast of Harris was used in pan (alongside some fine sttidio work) to recreate the scene. this is no casual coincidence.

The beauty of the Hebrides lies in its unfettered ability to present a beautifully articulated attack on the churlish townie mentality. (‘all Alchies Anonymous: I‘m running away.


x: ' i 1 s ' ° ' Whether it's flexing your sea muscles or taking in the impressive collection of beaches on offer, the Hebrides has something for everyone.

The Hebrides has an impressive throng of people. clubs and Organisations to make life easier and to help you make the most of the actiVities on otter. Albannach Tours (01851 830433) organise trips all over the Hebrides. Further south you can explore the untouched beaches and deserted hills of the Isle of Barra wrth Crann Tara Tours (01 870 620342). Alternatively. Check out the Stomoway Trust Countryside Ranger (01851 706916) which provides a range of guided walks in Stornoway's wooded castle grounds. For a complete walking holiday package give C-N-Do Scotland (01 786 445703) a call as it has a solid reputation for outdoor activities throughout the islands and St Kilda. Alternatively. backpackers and independent travellers might want to try Wild in Scotland Tours (0131 478 6500).

Or if you fancy trying your sea legs. see www.0utdoorhebrides. com for comprehensive listings. including Island Cruising (01851 672381 ), which is tailored to accommodate four to six-day cruises anywhere in the Hebrides. including St Kilda. F0r something a little more hands-on try Uist Outdoor Centre (01876 500 480) which provides diving and wildlife charters on its 5.5m powerboat to sheltered sea locations around the Minch or oceanic waters in the west.

I For full listings see www. W's/(Hebrides. com.

‘i, 7.5”. THE LIST 111